You - or whomever you’re eating with - has cut meat out of their day-to-day. So when you choose a restaurant, you don’t want to go somewhere where one of you will feel stuck eating cashew cream and tempeh. The 16 places on this guide all have great vegetarian food, but none of them are fully vegetarian restaurants. That means we’re not judging them on how well they put radishes on a plate, or shape a burger out of lentils - we only care if they make good food. That way, there’s something to eat for everyone.
This Mediterranean spot on Fillmore is where to go if you want to feel like you’re in an oceanside villa as you drink cocktails and eat your way through their menu of dips, from hummus to spicy muhammara. They have larger plates, too, and while most include meats like lamb, the Turkish flatbread with kale and cheese is something you don’t want to miss.
By the time you’re done eating at State Bird Provisions, more trays of food will have passed you than people on Hinge. While many of those trays have stuff like clam broth and pork ribs, there are still plenty of vegetarian options like tofu caprese and incredible spring rolls with Buddha’s hand. This is one of the best special occasion restaurants in the city where you can skip the meat and leave not feeling like you’ve missed something.
Most of the pasta options at Barzotto are vegetarian. So even if you come here with a bunch of carnivore friends, odds are, you’ll probably be able to steal bites from their largely-portioned plates. No matter what, though, make sure someone gets the lumache with marinara, ricotta, and lemon zest.
Al’s Place is the only restaurant we’ve been to where meat dishes are considered sides. And while we love the idea of a place that gives you a side of duck with your rabbit, vegetables are actually the focus here. The baby lettuces with herbed avocado is one of our favorite salads in the city, and the brined french fries with apple sauce will wreck all other fries for you for at least a week. Pretty much everything will inspire you to make your next reservation before you leave.
We regularly drop into this Nepali restaurant for momos, and the best part is that the vegetable version is just as good as the chicken. Aside from the momos, everything from the samosas to curries you can get with paneer or tofu and vegetables is incredible. You could come here 50 times without running out of new things to order.
Unless you don’t eat gluten, there’s no reason to feel left behind at this Italian place in the Mission. Nearly every single pasta that’s slid out in front of us - meat-based or not - becomes our new favorite. And if everyone at your table wants to do the pasta tasting menu, Flour + Water has a separate vegetarian one, so you won’t get stuck skipping courses.
The busy dining room at Beit Rima can sometimes make you feel like you’ve flung yourself into some sort of controlled chaos - complete with banquettes topped with fez hats, and pop-art prints of the Mona Lisa wearing a burqa. But their Middle Eastern comfort food - like Noosh’s - is fantastic, and the portions are huge. The mezze sampler is big enough to feed two people, but ordering it shouldn’t stop you from ordering a few extra falafel or some fava bean ful.
Despite being named after a type of lettuce, Little Gem is not a fully vegetarian restaurant. This kind-of-healthy spot does have a lot of vegetarian options from mushroom broth and green juices to bibimbap bowls, though. There are meat options, too, like brisket tacos and fried chicken - but you’re coming here to hopefully live longer, so you might as well stick to ordering what comes from the ground.
The entire menu at Cala is nearly all vegetarian and seafood, but that’s something most people wouldn’t realize until after they’ve paid the check. Our favorite thing at this Mexican restaurant in Hayes Valley is the charred sweet potato tacos. They come with a side of bone marrow salsa negra, but it’s not on anything. Just pass it along to your friend sitting across from you and forget it was ever an option, like your ex they’re now engaged to. The black bean sopes are also fantastic, as are the trout tostadas - if you occasionally eat fish.
Fiorella in the Richmond makes some of our favorite SF pizza, and the vegetable-heavy pies are way better than the meaty ones. The margherita is light and delicious, the funghi pie is drowning in mushrooms (in a good way), and the Magic Zone, a white pizza with spinach, will make you want to add it to your speed dial after trying it for the first time.
You can get the paellas at Bellota in half-and-half pans, so while your friends eat the one with squid or chicken, you can get the squash and mushroom version that’s equally fantastic. And because they’re so laser-focused on the other, maybe they’ll leave the majority of the vegetarian half to you. Even if they don’t, you’re still going to order pan con tomate or patatas bravas to start, so it’s no big deal.
It’s always a good sign when a place has an entire section of its menu dedicated to vegetables and tofu, and Burma Love is one of our go-tos in this category. It’s easy to order a massive meal here and not even notice the lack of meat on the table. Start with the tea leaf salad, then get whatever sounds good to you and you’ll probably leave happy.
The wood-fired pizzas at Del Popolo have one of our favorite crusts in the city. The non-meat plates are excellent, and make a very good meal on their own. This place works for any occasion, and the lower Nob Hill/Union Square-ish location makes it most ideal for after work.
This all-day Mission cafe has amazing vegetarian options for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner. During the day, try the egg sandwich, squash soup, and grilled cheese - all of which are phenomenal. At dinner, they serve smorrebrod rye sandwiches and vegetable plates that are hearty and better than the meat entrees. But even the soft serve is reason enough to come here.
If you often find yourself around Civic Center, you should definitely stop into August 1 Five. This Indian restaurant is a good place to come after work or before a concert, and the food is great. Aside from lamb and pork ribs, they have naan with cheese and potato, paneer, and crunchy palak chaat that are incredible.
Made-to-order tofu isn’t something you come across every day. And when you do, you should get involved, whether you’re a vegetarian or not. Eiji is a tiny Japanese spot on the edge of the Castro that does excellent tofu and non-seafood plates, in addition to sushi (to keep the fish-eaters occupied). Get the mochi-covered strawberries for dessert and you’re good to go.