Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.
San Francisco is a vegan mecca. Before editing, I had over 60 photos just of vegan food that we ate while in The City By The Bay. It was absolutely glorious. Granted, we are pretty spoiled here in the NYC area when it comes to vegan fare, but its always fun and exciting to explore unfamiliar territory.
Our first venture was to the Ferry Building Marketplace where we were searching for Peeples Vegan Donuts. I tried the chocolate frosted donut and Melissa had the coffee flavored donut. They were the cake style donuts, and were deliciously moist and satisfying.
Next up was Gracias Madre (Mission), organic & vegan Mexican cuisine. It was a difficult decision as every single menu item made my mouth water, and it had been ages since I’ve been out for Mexican food! However, once I saw that they had enchiladas on the menu, I was sold. I left the choosing of the appetizer up to Melissa, and she smartly chose the corn gorditas. The gorditas were bursting with bright flavors, as I was to soon learn the rest of our food was as well. They serve a cashew cream with their dishes that is so creamy and delicious. While their sautéed greens were a little too spicy (and I like spicy!) I still managed to enjoy them. All entrees came with their refried black beans, which I had never had before. I have had black beans, and your typical refried beans, but never refried black beans. They were fantastic!
Later that night, we had dinner with friends who are not vegan. Luckily, Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria (Marina) offers Daiya cheese to make a vegan pizza! Score! We dined on a scrumptious vegan veggie pizza while my friends could still have their dairy cheese pie. Win/win.
We had been to Herbivore (Haight) for brunch before, but find it incredibly worthy for a second visit. I enjoyed a tofu scramble breakfast platter that included a pancake and home fries and Melissa had blueberry pancakes. We shared an order of their sausage biscuit & gravy. Topped it all off with a mimosa and fresh carrot & ginger juice!
Underdog (Sunset) is billed as “The Organic Sausage Joint” but they also boast an entirely vegan section in their offerings. We went for the regular vegan dog and enjoyed it with all the trimmings – onion, sauerkraut, relish and ketchup. Just make sure you are specific when ordering — we were accidentally served real meat dogs! Thankfully, we noticed and quickly let them know of their error, to which they whole-heartedly apologized and promptly remedied their error.
Cha Ya (Mission) serves strictly Vegetarian Japanese food and was heaven on earth. While they don’t have a restaurant website, they do have a Yelp page boasting over 700 reviews and a 4-star rating. And boy do I understand why! We were blown away so much by how delicious their food is that we went two nights in a row. I am such a sucker for dumpling anything, so once I saw they had vegan gyoza on the menu, I was sold. If you read the reviews on the linked Yelp page, you will see that even declared meat-eaters loved this place. I can attest to that, because the same non-vegan friend that joined us for Amici’s pizza joined us again and for BOTH nights at this place. He is what you might call a “proud” carnivore and absolutely loved his food here. I think that speaks for itself. They are cash only, but do have an ATM on the premises.
Dinosaurs in the Castro district serves up traditional banh-mi, Vietnamese sandwiches. And they offer a vegan tofu version! And it was YUMMY. We love the banh-mi at Banh Mi Zon here in Manhattan, and this was just as delicious. Typically I would get it spicy, but after a bad run in with another banh-mi joint and jalapeno seeds on it, I stayed away from the spicy this time. Yes, the sandwich was as delicious as it looks. Plus, it was cheap. Can’t beat it.
Love & Haight (Lower Haight) offers vegetarian & vegan sandwiches. Last time we were in SF we hit up this joint, and it was also deemed good enough for a second visit. We stopped in before heading down to Santa Cruz to pick up sandwiches for the ride. I recommend the vegan chicken sandwich. I only wish they’d offer veganaise (offer a selection of mustards for vegans).
Once in Santa Cruz, we hit up one of my all-time favorite restaurants – Cafe Gratitude. They mainly focus on raw food, but also offer cooked dishes as well. I simply die for their nori wrap – called I am Transparent – and dream about it quite often. All of their dishes are titled after affirmations – “I am _____ ” – which is how you order the item. When the server brings you your food, they say it back to you “You are _____ “. I find it incredibly heart-warming, though some might find it hokey. They also ask a question of the day, and practice what they call “Sacred Commerce” which you can read more about on their website. All of that aside, their food really is something to behold. Raw or cooked, I’ve yet to have something I didn’t like there after my total of four visits, and neither has Melissa. Their desserts are also a-ma-zing! I am a fiend for their “I am Nurtured” ice cream sundae. Melissa loves their “I am Devoted” coconut cream pie. Our friend gifted us with their cookbook this time around, proclaiming “this is a cookbook you two need to have!” – I couldn’t agree more. I’m excited to share our experience and journey through this cookbook with you all!
We used Happy Cow one day for lunch to see if we couldn’t find a taco joint. Success! Salsa’s Taco Bar (formerly Leo’s) offers an ENTIRE vegan menu! We gobbled down some vegan crunchy tacos, flautas, and enchiladas. Yum.
I also included some photographs of our home-cooked vegan meals while visiting our friend in Santa Cruz. Tofu scramble, vegan sandwiches and a delicious vegan BBQ night.
I am now so inspired to make this a tradition – this being traveling for vegan food! I think it would be super fun to travel to awesome cities around the USA that I haven’t been to in search of the best vegan food. Kind of like how Anthony Bordain does, except without all the crazy slaughter and meat that he often will feature.