California has long been a proponent of clean eating, sustainable farming, and locally sourced cuisine. And the city of San Francisco has plenty to offer for vegetarian visitors. Here’s our pick of the best meatless meals in the city
Hoss Zaré’s The Fly Trap offers a little something for everyone. His modern, fresh takes on Persian dishes are layered in flavour, with extravagant use of spices and herbs. Many a vegetarian swears by his varied menu, and his ‘Hoss-pitality’ is legendary. The warm and stylish dining room and excellent wine list are a bonus.
606 Folsom St
Mexican food can be challenging for vegetarian and vegan diners, but Gracias Madre is here to save the day. The Mission restaurant offers all vegan dishes, using regional Mexican recipes and local, seasonal produce. Creative use of cashew, coconut and legumes yields delicious results. They even manage to create desserts that don’t disappoint (particularly the flan).
2211 Mission St
Between North Beach and the Financial District is Cotogna, the casual little sister to high-end, adjoining Quince. It’s been one of the hottest restaurants in San Francisco for years. Chef Michael Tusk prepares excellent pasta in house, along with pizza, salads and seasonal takes on rustic Italian cuisine. Their sformato is always vegetarian. Don’t miss their vegetable side dishes, like the famed carrots, which are substantial enough for everyone at your table. Reservations are advised, but the bar and communal table are great for walk-ins.
490 Pacific Ave
Fans of Indian food should try Udupi Palace in the Mission. The food is entirely meat-free, so vegetarians can order with abandon. Vegans will also find plenty to love. The rich spices keep everything flavourful and the thalis are excellent value.
1007 Valencia St
Burmese food—infused with the flavours of India, China, and Thailand—can be hard to find, but San Francisco has an abundance of it. Burma Superstar is famous for long lines and intimate quarters. Burma Love has a full bar and a bit more space. Either one is worth the wait. The tea leaf salad is rightfully famous and the vegetarian curries pack a delicious punch.
309 Clement St (Burma Love at 211 Valencia St)
For a true San Francisco institution dedicated to vegetarian cuisine, look no further than the legendary Greens Restaurant, overlooking the bay in historic Fort Mason. It was opened in 1979 by the San Francisco Zen Center and has been making vegetarians happy ever since. Their chefs have produced some of the most respected vegetarian cookbooks around, the views are spectacular, and the service refined. Plus, in a classically Northern California twist, they were one of the first places in San Francisco to partner with their own farm, located on the Zen Center’s retreat at Green Gulch in nearby Marin County. The menu changes with the season, but the dishes are always on point.
Building A, Fort Mason Center
Thai is often a safe bet for vegetarians and vegans, and Kin Khao is a stylish and truly authentic place. Owner Pim Techamuavivit is well known for her food blog, Chez Pim, and her restaurant features many dishes rarely found outside of Thailand. Kin Khao offers a fun atmosphere, with cocktails and a wine list well-designed to pair with the bright flavours on the menu. Come prepared for an adventure, have fun and order the black rice pudding for dessert.
55 Cyril Magnin St
It can be hard for a vegetarian to survive in a Chinese restaurant, but local mini-chain Enjoy Vegetarian is a popular destination for vegetarians and vegans. If it’s meat substitutes you seek, this is the spot for you. Three locations around town make it a convenient stop, too. They also deliver.
839 Kearny St, 754 Kirkham St, and 5344 Geary Blvd
This upscale restaurant between Union Square and Nob Hill has a private farm that supplies the produce and ingredients used in their recipes. Sons & Daughters offers a vegetarian pre-fixe menu worth every penny. Call in advance for a reservation or book online.
708 Bush St
You might think that a vegan restaurant wouldn’t have much to offer in the way of burgers. You’d be wrong. Veganburg in Haight-Ashbury offers no fewer than 10 different kinds of meatless burgers. They also have killer French fries that are GMO-free.
1466 Haight St
Along the busy dining corridor that is Valencia Street in the Mission, you’ll find Cha-Ya, a Japanese restaurant that specialises in tasty vegan and vegetarian dishes. Standouts include the vegetarian pot stickers and the Starlight roll: seasoned brown sushi rice, eryngii mushrooms, spinach, and asparagus rolled in thinly sliced avocado.
762 Valencia St
Nourish Café is completely plant-based and uses organic, whole foods and non-GMO ingredients to create delicious, wholesome and healthy foods. They use only natural sweeteners and minimal oils in their recipes. Menus and hours differ between their two locations, so plan wisely in order to taste it all!
189 6th Ave and 1030 Hyde St
Located right in the hustle and bustle of Civic Center is this popular vegetarian restaurant, which serves some dishes so decadent it’s hard to believe they’re good for you! We’re talking specifically about their Orange Blossom Berry French Toast (French bread dipped in orange batter with caramelised bananas, fresh berries, and glazed walnuts, served with pure maple syrup) and their Wild Mushroom Benedict (two poached eggs and spinach, wild mushrooms, caramelised onions, white truffle oil, and Hollandaise sauce on an English muffin).
1298 Market St