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20 Essential East Bay Vegan Restaurants

The salad days are never over here

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For those who have slogged through meals at restaurants that had only one token vegan dish, the East Bay is a veritable promised land of conscientious, meat-free culinary endeavors. It's not hard to find Indian and Ethiopian restaurants that are vegan friendly, but these 20 vegan restaurants make the deliberate decision to offer an inclusive dining experience for all.

To make the list, restaurants had to do more than eat their vegetables, and an exclusively vegan menu took priority over having a number of hearty veg-friendly options.

If we missed a spot and you think the kale salad is greener on the other side, do let us know in the comments. And please note that this list is ranked geographically.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Potala Vegan Restaurant

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Where some vegan restaurants try to keep up with appearances, Potala's one of those that wants you to know you're eating vegetables, and a lot of them. Every meal in the changed-daily menu includes includes soup, rice, legumes, greens, mixed vegetables, and salad. $14 for a large lunch plate, and $15 for a large dinner, buys you a bountiful veggie spread — whereas an omnivore restaurant might only provide a small side of salad with meals at that price point.

The Butcher's Son and Market

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A name suggesting a tragic folk song belies a robust menu of deli regulars — macaroni salad, cold-cut hoagies, and high-quality housemade faux meat sold by the pound. The place gets pretty packed for brunch, but good things come to those who wait, which in this case includes vegan buffalo bacon fried chicken ranch sandwiches and a fairly exceptional East Coast–style grinder. Recently moved into a larger space, the Butcher’s Son now includes a robust market for takeaway items.

Cinnaholic

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Come here for giant, sticky, glazed cinnamon buns that are also completely vegan. A single bun is big enough for two to split — but you probably won't want to.

Located in a Moraga strip mall, this fast-casual spot specializes in Indian-inspired burgers. While healthfulness is the theme — the burger patties are made with either chana beans (aka chickpeas) or mung beans — the kitchen doesn’t skimp on the spices, so the burgers are still plenty flavorful. Plenty of gluten-free options are available here.

Flacos Tacos

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Some say there's nothing more Californian than getting tacos with friends. Flacos offers that quintessential experience to vegans and then goes above and beyond the novelty of a “vegan taco," offering vegan pozole, banana-leaf tamales, and fresh-made agua frescas as well.

Millennium

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If you need a break from vegan variations of fried comfort food, Millennium — one of the Bay Area’s early vegan fine-dining innovators, dating back to the days of its original SF location — offers more of an upscale wine bar feel. It’s the kind of place that takes plating very seriously, and that serves hearty, ambitious dishes like arborio-crusted mushrooms and parsnip okonomiyaki.

Shangri-La Vegan

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Nestled on an unassuming street corner in the Longfellow neighborhood, homely Shangri-La is easy to miss. Wise up, though, because the dynamic, ever-changing menu offers unabashed and unapologetic macrobiotic vegan fare — no "this burger tastes the same with black beans and tofu" dishes here. There’s also a Temescal location at 4905 Telegraph Avenue.

Timeless Coffee

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Vegan students and worker bees descend upon Timeless Coffee for its dairy-free cheesecakes, danishes, and custom cakes paired with small-batch coffee deftly poured into oat milk lattes. Its proximity to other cafes means that, while often busy, it’s not packed or flooded with people all jockeying for the one outlet that still works. The cafe also has a cozy location at 2965 College Avenue in Berkeley.

Cafe Dareye

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Ethiopian restaurants are usually solid choices for vegan diners, but Cafe Dareye is the rare 100-percent vegan and gluten-free spot. The $11.99 combo is loaded with lentils, split peas, collard greens, and stuffed jalapeños.

Vegan Mob

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Oakland’s newest vegan hotspot offers up hearty and flavorful vegan takes on soul food dishes a few steps away from Lake Merritt, in the iconic former Kwik-Way location. If you’re under the impression that vegan food is dainty or timid, get a load of chef Toriano Gordon’s highly Instagram-friendly takes on gumbo (made with faux shrimp) and French fry–stuffed “California Barbrquitos.”

Toriano Gordon in front of his new permanent location of Vegan Mob Vegan Mob

Gay 4 U

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This downtown Oakland permanent pop-up at Garden House comes from the former proprietor of Hella Vegan Eats, who promises a truly inclusive space — and even offers a free meal to any trans person of color. The food offerings are bold and playful, running the gamut from braised kale quinoa bowls to fried “chicken” waffle burgers. Check Instagram for the pop-ups hours.

Core Kitchen

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Core Kitchen's menu is entirely vegetable-based, with noodles made of zucchini and collard green wraps. A kale salad at a vegan place comes as no surprise, but Core Kitchen's tahini-marinated kale is worth a shot if you've been skeptical of the leafy green, or have been in a long-term relationship with it and need to reignite that spark.

Core Kitchen

Nature Vegetarian Restaurant

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The sprawling menu gives vegans an abundance of Chinese options, many of which are prepared with the restaurant’s uncommonly tasty housemade mock meats. Never thought you’d get a craving for gluten-based vegan sesame chicken? You’ll want to give this one a try. Even better, almost everything on the menu costs less than 10 bucks.

Bare Knuckle Pizza

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Vegan pizza isn’t too hard to find these days, but Bare Knuckle Pizza commits to the craft, not only sourcing vegan mozz (from the Butcher’s Son) but also vegan blue cheese, vegan bacon, vegan pepperoni, and more for its wood-fired, Neapolitan pies.

The Veg Hub

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Huge, flavor-packed sandwiches and soul food plates piled high with fried faux-chicken and vegan mac ‘n’ cheese are on the menu at this all-vegan restaurant. All the fake meats and cheeses are made in house, and the Philly Cheeze Steak — an umami bomb of the highest order — might be the most satisfying vegan sandwich in the East Bay.

Vegan Donut Gelato

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Vegan Donut Gelato serves ... vegan doughnuts and vegan gelato. The doughnuts are particularly impressive, with an airy quality difficult to find in other dairy-less iterations. The goal here is not to be fancy or trendy in the slightest. Instead, it feels like an old-school donut shop with its cases crammed full of classic glazed raised and rainbow sprinkle–topped cake doughnuts.

Souley Vegan

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Some consider Souley Vegan to be the epitome of vegan food in Oakland — yet the Jack London neighborhood mainstay defies expectations whenever possible. The cayenne lemonade, fried okra, and Southern-fried tofu bring even the staunchest omnivores to the yard — which happens to be a lovely space of sprawling picnic tables serenaded with lively jazz and R&B.

Eternal

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Donut Farm’s new Oakland location — dubbed Eternal — offers a full slate of the Bay Area’s best-known vegan doughnuts. Beyond that, though, it offers a full breakfast/brunch menu. Come here, then, for your vegan breakfast burrito, tofu omelette, and country fried Chik’n needs.

Two Mammas' Vegan Kitchen

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Having a brunch menu without eggs benedict is like releasing a country album without a single song about being dumped or getting your truck towed. Two Mammas rights this wrong with tofu benedicts, florentines, and scrambles, in addition to breakfast sandwiches and waffles. The Fruitvale cafe also serves a rosemary soy chicken salad sandwich that’s the kind of thing you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Veggie Lee

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This vegetarian Chinese spot is helmed by a former Daimo chef with serious Cantonese cooking chops, so all the usual mock-meat preparations are a cut above. Dishes like the eggplant with vegan fish steak, the salt-and-pepper pumpkin, and the pan-fried tofu skin are as good as anything you’ll find at any of the area’s omnivore-oriented Chinese restaurants. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, and most of it is vegan — just ask to be certain.

Potala Vegan Restaurant

Where some vegan restaurants try to keep up with appearances, Potala's one of those that wants you to know you're eating vegetables, and a lot of them. Every meal in the changed-daily menu includes includes soup, rice, legumes, greens, mixed vegetables, and salad. $14 for a large lunch plate, and $15 for a large dinner, buys you a bountiful veggie spread — whereas an omnivore restaurant might only provide a small side of salad with meals at that price point.

The Butcher's Son and Market

A name suggesting a tragic folk song belies a robust menu of deli regulars — macaroni salad, cold-cut hoagies, and high-quality housemade faux meat sold by the pound. The place gets pretty packed for brunch, but good things come to those who wait, which in this case includes vegan buffalo bacon fried chicken ranch sandwiches and a fairly exceptional East Coast–style grinder. Recently moved into a larger space, the Butcher’s Son now includes a robust market for takeaway items.

Cinnaholic

Come here for giant, sticky, glazed cinnamon buns that are also completely vegan. A single bun is big enough for two to split — but you probably won't want to.

Baagan

Located in a Moraga strip mall, this fast-casual spot specializes in Indian-inspired burgers. While healthfulness is the theme — the burger patties are made with either chana beans (aka chickpeas) or mung beans — the kitchen doesn’t skimp on the spices, so the burgers are still plenty flavorful. Plenty of gluten-free options are available here.

Flacos Tacos

Some say there's nothing more Californian than getting tacos with friends. Flacos offers that quintessential experience to vegans and then goes above and beyond the novelty of a “vegan taco," offering vegan pozole, banana-leaf tamales, and fresh-made agua frescas as well.

Millennium

If you need a break from vegan variations of fried comfort food, Millennium — one of the Bay Area’s early vegan fine-dining innovators, dating back to the days of its original SF location — offers more of an upscale wine bar feel. It’s the kind of place that takes plating very seriously, and that serves hearty, ambitious dishes like arborio-crusted mushrooms and parsnip okonomiyaki.

Shangri-La Vegan

Nestled on an unassuming street corner in the Longfellow neighborhood, homely Shangri-La is easy to miss. Wise up, though, because the dynamic, ever-changing menu offers unabashed and unapologetic macrobiotic vegan fare — no "this burger tastes the same with black beans and tofu" dishes here. There’s also a Temescal location at 4905 Telegraph Avenue.

Timeless Coffee

Vegan students and worker bees descend upon Timeless Coffee for its dairy-free cheesecakes, danishes, and custom cakes paired with small-batch coffee deftly poured into oat milk lattes. Its proximity to other cafes means that, while often busy, it’s not packed or flooded with people all jockeying for the one outlet that still works. The cafe also has a cozy location at 2965 College Avenue in Berkeley.

Cafe Dareye

Ethiopian restaurants are usually solid choices for vegan diners, but Cafe Dareye is the rare 100-percent vegan and gluten-free spot. The $11.99 combo is loaded with lentils, split peas, collard greens, and stuffed jalapeños.

Vegan Mob

Toriano Gordon in front of his new permanent location of Vegan Mob Vegan Mob

Oakland’s newest vegan hotspot offers up hearty and flavorful vegan takes on soul food dishes a few steps away from Lake Merritt, in the iconic former Kwik-Way location. If you’re under the impression that vegan food is dainty or timid, get a load of chef Toriano Gordon’s highly Instagram-friendly takes on gumbo (made with faux shrimp) and French fry–stuffed “California Barbrquitos.”

Toriano Gordon in front of his new permanent location of Vegan Mob Vegan Mob

Gay 4 U

This downtown Oakland permanent pop-up at Garden House comes from the former proprietor of Hella Vegan Eats, who promises a truly inclusive space — and even offers a free meal to any trans person of color. The food offerings are bold and playful, running the gamut from braised kale quinoa bowls to fried “chicken” waffle burgers. Check Instagram for the pop-ups hours.

Core Kitchen

Core Kitchen

Core Kitchen's menu is entirely vegetable-based, with noodles made of zucchini and collard green wraps. A kale salad at a vegan place comes as no surprise, but Core Kitchen's tahini-marinated kale is worth a shot if you've been skeptical of the leafy green, or have been in a long-term relationship with it and need to reignite that spark.

Core Kitchen

Nature Vegetarian Restaurant

The sprawling menu gives vegans an abundance of Chinese options, many of which are prepared with the restaurant’s uncommonly tasty housemade mock meats. Never thought you’d get a craving for gluten-based vegan sesame chicken? You’ll want to give this one a try. Even better, almost everything on the menu costs less than 10 bucks.

Bare Knuckle Pizza

Vegan pizza isn’t too hard to find these days, but Bare Knuckle Pizza commits to the craft, not only sourcing vegan mozz (from the Butcher’s Son) but also vegan blue cheese, vegan bacon, vegan pepperoni, and more for its wood-fired, Neapolitan pies.

The Veg Hub

Huge, flavor-packed sandwiches and soul food plates piled high with fried faux-chicken and vegan mac ‘n’ cheese are on the menu at this all-vegan restaurant. All the fake meats and cheeses are made in house, and the Philly Cheeze Steak — an umami bomb of the highest order — might be the most satisfying vegan sandwich in the East Bay.

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Vegan Donut Gelato

Vegan Donut Gelato serves ... vegan doughnuts and vegan gelato. The doughnuts are particularly impressive, with an airy quality difficult to find in other dairy-less iterations. The goal here is not to be fancy or trendy in the slightest. Instead, it feels like an old-school donut shop with its cases crammed full of classic glazed raised and rainbow sprinkle–topped cake doughnuts.

Souley Vegan