18 Great Vegetarian Restaurants In San Francisco guide image


18 Great Vegetarian Restaurants In San Francisco

Where to eat when you want more vegetarian options than "seasonal market sides."

You don’t need us to tell you that San Francisco is serious about its pasta and sushi—but it’s also a city with a ton of vegetarian options, and these 18 restaurants are proof. Some, but not all, of these places are strictly vegetarian or plant-based. Others just happen to serve a lot of really great vegetarian dishes. But what they’re definitely not are merely restaurants with larger-than-average salad sections or any place with a little patch of wheat grass on the counter. These are restaurants where the best things to eat truly are meatless.



This Dogpatch restaurant serves up excellent Gujarati dishes inside the industrial Minnesota Street Project building. In 2021, chef Heena Patel revamped the meat-heavy menu, making it entirely vegetarian and opting to serve everything tapas-style. Which is a great thing for us: it’s now easier than ever to mix and match plates from each of the menu’s four sections (divided by cities within Gujarat)—and to order a lot. Watch as your table becomes brimming with everything from blue cheese-stuffed paratha and spicy charred eggplant stew to the ceramic carafe of herby lemon-tamarind water you pour inside small pani puri puffs. Don’t forget the house-made chutneys and pickles.

The Arab restaurant for comforting dishes like whole fried branzino and beef kabob plates also has a lengthy vegetarian-friendly mezze section. And the mezze section just so happens to be a big reason we keep coming back. Get the mezze sampler with Beit Rima’s all-stars: creamy lebna, muhammara, baba ganoush, hummus. It also comes with crispy falafels. Other vegetarian options at this casual spot (you order at the counter, and servers bring everything to the table) include baked halloumi, hearty ful, and shakshuka.

Greens is a Marina institution that's been serving up entirely vegetarian dishes since 1979. The waterfront dining room in Fort Mason has tons of natural light, huge windows, and colossal wood sculptures, all of which create a beautiful setting for long, leisurely meals consisting of vegan spring rolls, pizza on cornmeal crusts, and fancy imported teas. The food at the groundbreaking restaurant won't blow your mind, but it doesn't need to—a meal at Greens will always be an experience to try at least once.

Next time you get hungry while you and your puppy are strutting down the street on a morning walk, stop by Nourish Cafe. The vegan cafe has locations in both the Richmond and Nob Hill, both of which have a couple of small-ish tables out on the sidewalk. Grab an acai bowl or a smoothie and enjoy it while you contemplate putting the dog on a plant-based diet, too.

This Mission spot serves up meaty, 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.

Dim sum is as much a part of living in the city as walking up and down hills and debating if you should move to Oakland, 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.

Aside from Northern Indian staples like chicken tikka masala and saag paneer, this Haight spot offers up a ton of plant-focused dishes, with 24 vegetarian options alongside the meat-focused ones. Start with the three pakoras—mixed vegetable, eggplant, and spinach—which are always a crowd-pleaser, regardless of your dietary habits. From there, pick either the baigan bharta (eggplant roasted in a clay oven with green peas and spices, in an onion and tomato gravy) or the paneer korma with homemade cottage cheese cooked in a creamy sauce, with almonds, nuts, and raisins. And soak up all the last bits on your plate with some naan or paratha.

Baia’s goal is to “satisfy your craving for elevated plant food,” which may come off as a bit pretentious—and it is—but the food at this Italian spot in Hayes Valley is actually superb. Come here to split a variety of appetizers, including the classic garlic knots and the Impossible meat-based meatballs, served over soft polenta. Pair a few savory dishes with the sweetness of a Golden Ticket, made with añejo rum, pineapple rum, turmeric, and passionfruit.

This Mediterranean restaurant in the Fillmore always makes us feel like we’re sunning in Santorini while feasting on feta tomato puffs, whipped hummus, and wood-fired pita. The menu changes weekly, but there are always vegetarian options available, like savory baked eggplant and burrata, and sweeter things like the Turkish coffee fudge brownie.

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 vegetarian samosa soup to Shan noodles—rice noodles cooked in a Burmese tomato sauce with pickled mustard greens, cilantro, peanuts, and sauteed tofu. Many dishes can be modified for vegan diners too, so don’t hesitate to ask.

It can be hard to find good paella without meat or seafood, but Bellota in Mission Bay has the option for half-and-half orders, so you can dig into the Verano (with white corn, romano and wax bean, snap pea, radish, and pickled red onion) right alongside your less vegetable-focused friends. Try some pintxos and tapas as well, including the manchego, pear, and apple salad and a delightful tortilla Española with potato, onion, spinach, piquillo puré, and lemon aioli.

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 is filled high with vegetarian options. 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. For vegan diners, remember to specify any accommodations you need, and enjoy the wide array of vegan meat alternatives too.

Great for an after-work hang, this Nob Hill spot has everything we want after six hours of virtual meetings—or any other time we just really need pizza. Sitting near the wood-fired oven will have you debating which of their vegetarian pies to try as they come out hot and blistered, but our favorites include the roasted maitake mushroom with spinach, garlic, and cacio e pepe, and the Bianca (mozzarella, ricotta, basil, and garlic). If you and your coworkers are particularly hungry, share some appetizers too, specifically the roasted summer squash with tomatillo, ricotta salata, and pepita dukkah.

Udupi Palace is where you go when you want to show up in sweats, catch up with a friend for an hour, and eat some of the best dosas in the Mission. The ones at this South Indian vegetarian spot are perfectly crispy, filled with well-spiced potatoes, and, depending on the kind you get (like the mysore) are roughly the size and shape of a small briefcase. This small spot also does a saag paneer that’s heavier on the spinach, ultra puffy poori, fried samosas that get a boost of flavor from an array of chutneys, and a big curry section. And if getting dressed in sweats and casually popping in for a meal is still too much for you to handle, don’t stress. Udupi Palace also runs a solid takeout operation. 

Tartine Manufactory is an ice cream shop, bakery, coffee bar, and actual bar, all in one. And this Mission spot sends out everything from avocado toast and yogurt bowls to a bunch of dips perfect for slathering on their freshly baked bread. But if you’re looking for a morning pick-me-up, there’s nothing better than the loaded breakfast sandwich, with a fried egg, sharp cheddar, and arugula on a soft brioche bun.

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.

The next time you spend the day in the sunshine at Dolores Park—enjoying a beer 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 and 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.

Whenever we want to keep things healthy-ish (or just really feel like starting off a morning with a damn good fruit smoothie), we go to Judahlicious. This place specializes in vegan and raw foods—from gigantic acai bowls to the “No Shirt, No Shoes,” a burrito bowl with black beans and rice, grilled vegetables, sesame tomato sauce, sliced avocado, cashew crème, and tomatillo sauce. It’s a good spot to come hang out for a long casual breakfast or lunch.

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photo credit: Susie Lacocque

18 Great Vegetarian Restaurants In San Francisco guide image