San Francisco is known for sourdough bread and strong opinions on how people should eat their burritos. So it’s understandable if you think it might be hard to find good vegan food here. But that really isn’t the case. We have a lot of great vegan-friendly restaurants serving everything from healthy and unprocessed options to not-so-healthy comfort food. Here are the best places to eat those things (and other vegan dishes of all kinds) across the city.
There aren’t many vegan sushi places in the city. But this casual Mission spot stands out for its creative plant-based specialty rolls bursting with so many textures. The excellent Prime Suspect has creamy gochujang aioli, crunchy sweet potato crisps, and slabs of soft marinated eggplant draped over it. Tiny rice crackers and vegan caviar dot the top of the Surprise Ending (where one piece is secretly spiked with habanero aioli). And we never leave without ordering the Boddy and Soul, a lightly-fried roll decorated with spicy aioli and shichimi togarashi for an added kick. And vegan or not, eating dinner in a spot that looks like the inside of a Swedish sauna is always fun.
Vegan Hood Chefs is a roving food truck with a mission—to create access to 100% vegan meals for local disenfranchised communities. And these meals are nothing short of game-changing. The menu constantly rotates, but you’ll see things like shrimp tacos, crispy grit cakes, “poke” fries, po’boys, jerk chicken and waffles, and other battered, fried, and coconut-marinated foods. Many dishes are brightened with pineapple slaws and tangy chipotle sauces and aiolis. Their locations vary, so you’ll have to put in some work if you want to track them down (read: stay glued to their Instagram feed, where they announce pop-up spots). We’ve recently seen them at Spark Social SF, Harmonic Brewing in the Dogpatch, and Line 51 Brewing in Oakland.
Wildseed in Cow Hollow often has wait times upwards of 90 minutes. But don’t let that deter you from some of the best vegetarian and plant-based meals in the city. Each of their seven menus has options that are familiar, but with a 100 percent vegan twist. The menu changes often, but you'll find things like beet poke, rigatoni bolognese, and a range of salads, pizzas, shareable plates, and sandwiches. For late-night sweets, order their Meyer lemon agave cheesecake, served with whipped coconut cream and coconut shavings.
Now with two locations, Burma Love has been serving some of the city’s best Burmese food for nearly 30 years. Whether you’re looking for a lovely lunch or a last-minute dinner sans reservation, this place has you covered with an extensive menu including everything from handmade yellow bean tofu to the Shan noodles—rice noodles cooked in a Burmese tomato sauce with pickled mustard greens, cilantro, peanuts, and sauteed tofu. Many dishes can be made vegan, so don’t hesitate to ask.
VeganBurg has been a staple in SF’s plant-based burger scene since 2015—and we still return on a regular basis for their delicious burgers. The fast-casual spot in the Haight is decked out with mirrors and benches lined with astroturf, which marginally gives the effect of eating outside. The nine burgers on the menu star patties made from soy, plant protein, or imitation fish and crab, and each one has a well-balanced mix of toppings like pineapple and teriyaki or pico de gallo. Our go-to is the one loaded with creamy mushrooms, which is filling but still light enough that we never need to nap immediately afterward. Get a side of the house sriracha aioli for an added kick.
This Nepali spot in the Mission serves up vegetarian and vegan options, all while under the gaze of a painting of a big red yak. Start with the momos, filled with a combination of mixed vegetables with chives and homemade masala, before digging into the baigun tarkari, a hearty minced eggplant cooked with onion, garlic, and spices including cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Keep in mind: you can request all house specialties and curries as vegetarian or vegan, so this is a great spot to try as many dishes as possible.
Nourish aims to serve food that not only tastes good, but is also good for you. All their ingredient plans are listed online, with mentions of dates in their baked goods and oil-free salad dressings to get you excited from behind your standing desk. To hype you up for the rest of your workday, order the Warrior Bowl with spinach, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, sprouted beans, and avocado as the base for a quinoa-and-black-bean Nourish burger patty, with red pepper almond dressing. Or go for the “Tuna” sandwich: a mixture of sunflower seeds, celery, almonds, onions, tahini, kelp flakes, and mustard, with cashew mayo, lettuce, tomato, and sprouts.
It’s brunch time and you can’t decide what to eat. Your partner wants a warm bowl filled with vegetables, your roommates are invested in getting pancakes and french toast, and you’re shooting for a scrambled tofu dish. This is when you should remember that Ananda Fuara has you covered. Aside from having delicious brunch options like veggie burgers and vegan chilaquiles verde, this place has a varied menu for lunch, dinner, and even dessert. Many of their other dishes can be made vegan upon request too.
Thai Idea Vegetarian Restaurant
This Tenderloin Thai spot serves it all, both during the lunch rush and even after you get back from the bar. On top of that, the entire expansive menu has plenty of vegan options, including plenty for vegan meat alternatives. Just remember to specify any accommodations when you order. We recommend ordering the pad kee mow noodles—pan-fried noodles with chili, garlic, onions, bell pepper, bamboo shoot, tomatoes, and basil—all washed down with a soy Thai iced tea.
Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese Restaurant
The next time you spend the day in the sunshine at Dolores Park—enjoying a drink or two, playing with some doggos, or throwing around a frisbee with friends—stop by Cha-Ya to refuel for the rest of the afternoon or evening. The small vegetarian/vegan Japanese spot offers dine-in on a first-come, first-served basis. Once seated with your friends, friends of friends, and strangers-who-are-now-friends, get the signature Cha-Ya roll, which includes avocado, yam, asparagus, and carrot, along with the vege-tofu curry.
Dim sum is as much a part of living in the city as walking up and down hills, and many Chinatown restaurants offer up some vegetarian dishes. Yet, if you want to ensure you get the full dim sum experience as a vegan, check out Enjoy Vegetarian. With over 100 dishes, this place aims to provide a full breadth of options for the meat-free crowd, including everything from soy chicken and tofu lettuce wraps to curry pumpkin tofu. You’ll likely need more than just one trip to try everything here, but we recommend starting with the Golden Basket (including four pieces each of deep-fried vegetable tempura, veggie nuggets, crispy soy chicken, and wontons) and the sweet and sour soy chicken with bell peppers and pineapple. There's a second location of Enjoy Vegetarian Thai in the Sunset.