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Stewed fava beans at Beit Rima.
Stewed fava beans at Beit Rima.
Beit Rima

15 Bountiful Restaurants for Vegetarians in San Francisco

These restaurants make plants the star, not the side

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Stewed fava beans at Beit Rima.
| Beit Rima

As another Bay Area summer begins with terrifying court decisions, outrageous price hikes on gas and groceries, and somehow run-of-the-mill wildfires, eating a dinner without meat can seem like a last priority. Still, an achievable goal like committing to plant-based burgers rather than the heavier alternative, can be an edifying force in times such as these. Plus, the United Nations does say nixing the beef can do a lot for the environment.

In San Francisco there are heaps of ways to enjoy a great meal sans steak. The list is competitive — plenty of restaurant seemed more fitting for our vegan map, for example — and this list is not an exhaustive, ranked, Thunderdome situation. It’s a far-flung selection spanning the city, from waffles near Ocean Beach to jackfruit tacos in Mission Bay. Here are 15 vegetarian-friendly restaurants worth venturing out to try.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Greens Restaurant

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Since 1979, Greens restaurant has been a proving ground for wickedly talented women chefs — starting of course with founding chef Deborah Madison, who’s kitchen family tree also includes Annie Somerville, Denise St. Onge, and current Greens executive chef Katie Reicher. The landmark restaurant has been all vegetarian since day one, and continues to star pristine local produce in spring rolls, salads, and pizzas. This OG San Francisco vegetarian dining room offers stunning views of the bay and Marin Headlands beyond, though you can also dine al fresco if you’d prefer.

Enjoy Vegetarian

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Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant — which is run by a family of devout Buddhists — is also kosher, making the restaurants (one in the Sunset and one in Chinatown) a hit with those of many faiths. Where this Chinese-influenced spot really shines though is its soups, all of which are made with flavorful, hearty broths that put meat-based broths to shame.

Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant
Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant
Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant

Vegan Picnic

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This fully plant-based “vegan comfort food” spot’s Cow Hollow location is still temporarily closed, but its Polk location is open for takeout, delivery, and dine-in.  Its menu offers a bounty of mock meat offerings, like fake tri-tip, counterfeit crab cakes, and faux chicken with gluten-free waffles.

Nourish Cafe SF

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Nourish Cafe has two locations in San Francisco: one in the Inner Richmond, and another at 1030 Hyde Street in Nob Hill. Both locations, which are completely plant-based, serve juice, smoothies, bowls, and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch.

Thai Idea Vegetarian Restaurant

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While most Thai restaurants have plenty of meatless options, this Tenderloin restaurant removed the guesswork, as all its offerings are meat-free — yes, that even means fish and seafood are off the menu. Dishes include classics like papaya salad and pad Thai, and the spot also offers fresh takes on standards like fried rice and faux meat.

The Flying Falafel

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The Flying Falafel’s Middle Eastern menu is all vegan, and much of it is available with gluten-free options, as well. That means “chick’n” shawarma and falafel that’s free from meat cross-contamination. Takeout and delivery are both available here.

Wholesome Bakery

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Wholesome Bakery isn’t just vegan; it’s also free of gluten, soy, and trans fats. At the Divisadero Street cafe you can find a solid selection of sandwiches, bowls, and salads, but Wholesome’s real strength are its baked goods, including indulgence-worthy brownies, cookies, and cakes. The bakery now converts into a restaurant Thursday through Saturday, with pizza slices starting at 11 a.m.

Beit Rima

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Beit Rima serves its exceptional hummus, falafel, and mezze to many Bay Area fans from its Castro and Cole Valley locations. It has a vegetarian-friendly menu, with the majority of items inherently free of meat. Must-orders include the ful (smashed fava bean spread with lemon relish, with a highly recommended optional soft boiled egg), shakshuka, and delicata squash with brown butter lebneh and pine nut dukkah.

Mezze sampler at Beit Rima Beit Rima

Craving tofuna? Shizen’s vegan sushi bar and izakaya boasts a menu of rolls filled with creamy tofu and topped with imitation fish eggs (made of tapioca), as well as tempura-fried veggies, bean curd skewers, and miso ramen.

Savor Cafe

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Mohamed Aboghanem’s newest outfit in the Inner Sunset is just getting started, and the unsuspecting shop already shows promise. The former owner of Saha in Berkeley, Aboghanem has been cooking vegetarian and vegan food for well over a decade. Bread pudding, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, baklava, and almond bear tortes are all on deck.

Almond bear torte at Savor.
Almond bear torte at Savor.
Savor

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese Restaurant

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Cha-Ya serves some of the tastiest — and prettiest — vegan Japanese fare you can find in the city, including delicate salads, hearty noodle dishes, and inventive sushi rolls. They’re back to indoor dining, takeout, and delivery five days of the week, Wednesday through Sunday.

Judahlicious

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Owner Michael Petite doles out vegan breakfast and lunch items at this Judah Avenue raw cafe. Waffles, smoothies, and bowls are staple fare. Petite recently opened Beach’n, another vegan shop, just a few blocks toward the water, to bring more of the vegan flock to the avenues.

Udupi Palace

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Udupi Palace has faced some controversy over labor issues in the past, but promises in 2015 to turn over a new leaf suggest vegetarians are free to enjoy the South Indian restaurant’s giant dosas, spicy curries, and sweet chutneys free of guilt over human or animal exploitation. Entree prices top out at around $14, even for dinner, so they’ll also fill you up without breaking the bank.

Udupi Palace

3rd Cousin

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This Bernal Heights restaurant is not exclusively vegetarian, nor need it be. Chef-owner Greg Lutes’ Michelin Guide New Discoveries 2021 restaurant has an expansive patio, a YOLO (you only live once) wine pairing, and, thankfully, vegetarian items for the high end diners such as potato leek soup, casarecce (available gluten-free, too), and porcini mushroom and black truffle ravioli “francese.”

The Vegan Hood Chefs

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Rheema Calloway and Ronnishia Johnson, the talented chefs behind this pop-up turned mainstay at Speakeasy in Bayview, can not be praised enough. They cater, host classes online, and are big brunch advocates — plus their mac n’ cheese, a coconut milk-based riff, entirely changed the vegan game in San Francisco.

Greens Restaurant

Since 1979, Greens restaurant has been a proving ground for wickedly talented women chefs — starting of course with founding chef Deborah Madison, who’s kitchen family tree also includes Annie Somerville, Denise St. Onge, and current Greens executive chef Katie Reicher. The landmark restaurant has been all vegetarian since day one, and continues to star pristine local produce in spring rolls, salads, and pizzas. This OG San Francisco vegetarian dining room offers stunning views of the bay and Marin Headlands beyond, though you can also dine al fresco if you’d prefer.

Enjoy Vegetarian

Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant — which is run by a family of devout Buddhists — is also kosher, making the restaurants (one in the Sunset and one in Chinatown) a hit with those of many faiths. Where this Chinese-influenced spot really shines though is its soups, all of which are made with flavorful, hearty broths that put meat-based broths to shame.

Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant
Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant
Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant

Vegan Picnic

This fully plant-based “vegan comfort food” spot’s Cow Hollow location is still temporarily closed, but its Polk location is open for takeout, delivery, and dine-in.  Its menu offers a bounty of mock meat offerings, like fake tri-tip, counterfeit crab cakes, and faux chicken with gluten-free waffles.

Nourish Cafe SF

Nourish Cafe has two locations in San Francisco: one in the Inner Richmond, and another at 1030 Hyde Street in Nob Hill. Both locations, which are completely plant-based, serve juice, smoothies, bowls, and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch.

Thai Idea Vegetarian Restaurant

While most Thai restaurants have plenty of meatless options, this Tenderloin restaurant removed the guesswork, as all its offerings are meat-free — yes, that even means fish and seafood are off the menu. Dishes include classics like papaya salad and pad Thai, and the spot also offers fresh takes on standards like fried rice and faux meat.

The Flying Falafel

The Flying Falafel’s Middle Eastern menu is all vegan, and much of it is available with gluten-free options, as well. That means “chick’n” shawarma and falafel that’s free from meat cross-contamination. Takeout and delivery are both available here.

Wholesome Bakery

Wholesome Bakery isn’t just vegan; it’s also free of gluten, soy, and trans fats. At the Divisadero Street cafe you can find a solid selection of sandwiches, bowls, and salads, but Wholesome’s real strength are its baked goods, including indulgence-worthy brownies, cookies, and cakes. The bakery now converts into a restaurant Thursday through Saturday, with pizza slices starting at 11 a.m.

Beit Rima

Beit Rima serves its exceptional hummus, falafel, and mezze to many Bay Area fans from its Castro and Cole Valley locations. It has a vegetarian-friendly menu, with the majority of items inherently free of meat. Must-orders include the ful (smashed fava bean spread with lemon relish, with a highly recommended optional soft boiled egg), shakshuka, and delicata squash with brown butter lebneh and pine nut dukkah.

Mezze sampler at Beit Rima Beit Rima

Shizen

Craving tofuna? Shizen’s vegan sushi bar and izakaya boasts a menu of rolls filled with creamy tofu and topped with imitation fish eggs (made of tapioca), as well as tempura-fried veggies, bean curd skewers, and miso ramen.

Savor Cafe

Mohamed Aboghanem’s newest outfit in the Inner Sunset is just getting started, and the unsuspecting shop already shows promise. The former owner of Saha in Berkeley, Aboghanem has been cooking vegetarian and vegan food for well over a decade. Bread pudding, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, baklava, and almond bear tortes are all on deck.

Almond bear torte at Savor.
Almond bear torte at Savor.
Savor

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese Restaurant

Cha-Ya serves some of the tastiest — and prettiest — vegan Japanese fare you can find in the city, including delicate salads, hearty noodle dishes, and inventive sushi rolls. They’re back to indoor dining, takeout, and delivery five days of the week, Wednesday through Sunday.

Judahlicious

Owner Michael Petite doles out vegan breakfast and lunch items at this Judah Avenue raw cafe. Waffles, smoothies, and bowls are staple fare. Petite recently opened Beach’n, another vegan shop, just a few blocks toward the water, to bring more of the vegan flock to the avenues.

Udupi Palace

Udupi Palace has faced some controversy over labor issues in the past, but promises in 2015 to turn over a new leaf suggest vegetarians are free to enjoy the South Indian restaurant’s giant dosas, spicy curries, and sweet chutneys free of guilt over human or animal exploitation. Entree prices top out at around $14, even for dinner, so they’ll also fill you up without breaking the bank.

Udupi Palace

3rd Cousin

This Bernal Heights restaurant is not exclusively vegetarian, nor need it be. Chef-owner Greg Lutes’ Michelin Guide New Discoveries 2021 restaurant has an expansive patio, a YOLO (you only live once) wine pairing, and, thankfully, vegetarian items for the high end diners such as potato leek soup, casarecce (available gluten-free, too), and porcini mushroom and black truffle ravioli “francese.”

The Vegan Hood Chefs

Rheema Calloway and Ronnishia Johnson, the talented chefs behind this pop-up turned mainstay at Speakeasy in Bayview, can not be praised enough. They cater, host classes online, and are big brunch advocates — plus their mac n’ cheese, a coconut milk-based riff, entirely changed the vegan game in San Francisco.

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