Food & Drink

The Best San Diego Restaurants for Vegetarians

Published On 09/16/2015 Published On 09/16/2015
Sara Norris/Thrillist
Sara Norris/Thrillist
Courtesy of Civico 1845
Courtesy of Puesto
Courtesy of Urban Solace
Viva Pops
Blind Lady Ale House
Courtesy of Café Gratitude
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1. Sol Cal 910 J Street, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

This vegan restaurant and juicery draws a health-conscious, yoga-pant-clad crowd, but even if your favorite meal is burgers with a side of burgers, you have to try the acai parfait. The fluffy, mousse-like mounds of house-made coconut yogurt with acai purée, fresh berries, and granola make this bright bowl of healthy goodness a great choice for breakfast or lunch, whether you’re a strict vegan or um, not.

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2. Nomad Donuts 4504 30th St, San Diego, CA 92116 (North Park)

This is probably about as healthy as donuts get (although you’d never think it) -- Nomad has an entire menu section dedicated to vegan options alongside its list of specialty donuts that changes daily. We recommend the Ube Taro Coconut donut (vegan and otherwise) which has a purplish tint from taro, a root vegetable with a nutty flavor. Combined with coconut, this donut is unexpected and original.

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3. Civico 1845 1845 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy)

This place serves up Italian favorites but adds a modern edge with its vegan and gluten-free menu. Don't skimp on the vino as the wine list is extensive.

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4. Puesto 789 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

The vibrantly decorated Puesto pays homage to all kinds of Mexican street food, with a heavy emphasis on tacos. You'll find a mix of familiar fillings (chicken al pastor and filet mignon) alongside refreshing combinations like lobster with black beans and crispy onions, and zucchini with sweet corn and cactus. The house-made corn tortillas here prove to be so much more than a vessel for the meat and cheese fillings, and you'll find yourself savoring their earthy taste -- or spreading them with guacamole when the chips run low. Speaking of guac, you can stick with cilantro and onion classic or have yours loaded with Brussels sprouts and crispy bacon.

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5. Pokez Mexican Restaurant 947 E St, San Diego, CA 92101

Hipsters flock to this Downtown joint for its organic Mexican fare and trendy ambience (think all-wooden interiors, fliers for local shows posted upon every surface, and skateboards mounted upon the walls). Succulent carne asada tacos and chicken rancheros remain staples, but the biggest influx of Pokez’s regulars come for its robust vegetarian options -- grilled tofu à la fajitas and mushroom burritos, and lettuce wrap tacos. Whatever your diet dictates, just make sure to try Pokez’s house-made sangria.

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6. Urban Solace 3823 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

You can always rely on filling, farm-fresh food at this North Park eatery. Instead of brunch, Urban Solace serves "blunch" (on weekdays and Saturdays) where egg-centric breakfast dishes, hot & cold sandwiches, and soups & salads will leave anyone with functioning tastebuds happy. The Sunday Bluegrass Brunch draws crowds for standouts like the cinnamon roll with butter pecan sauce, braised pork belly Benedicts, and the grilled four-cheese sandwich served with fries and creamy tomato-fennel soup.

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7. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens 1999 Citracado Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92029 (Escondido)

A one-acre beer garden and serene koi ponds make the cold beers all the more enjoyable at Stone Brewing's Escondido location. Stone Brewing's brews are known for their bold and hoppy flavor, while its food stand outs for its local and organic ingredients. Items like tiger shrimp ceviche, rice noodles with spicy lamb and chile oil, and slow-braised duck tinga tacos exemplify the global tone of the bistro.

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8. Viva Pops 3330 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116 (Normal Heights)

What was once a little ice cream cart is now a one-stop popsicle shop offering up gourmet, organic, all-natural treats. And don't be confused, these are not your childhood popsicles and flavors range from spicy mango chili and lavender lemonade, to mojito, and goat cheese cherry cheesecake.

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9. OB Noodle House 2218 Cable St, San Diego, CA 92107 (Ocean Beach)

With 19 kinds of pho, a ton of appetizers, vermicelli bowls, and crispy egg noodles, OB Noodle House has everything you could possibly ask of one noodle house. But they've gone above and beyond with the Pho 20 Challenge ($24.20, we see what you did there) -- if you can finish the one and a half pounds of noodles, one pound of meat, and a pint of a Stone beer (in under 42 minutes), you get yourself a T-shirt, a place on the Pho king champion (we see what you did there again!) hall of fame, and the meal is free.

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10. Blind Lady Ale House 3416 Adams Ave, Normal Heights, CA 92116 (Normal Heights)

Sometimes known as BLAH, this Normal Heights beer bar and pizza-centric restaurant is anything but. It’s a fine go-to for vegetarians, neighborhood locals with kids, and anyone who appreciates a great thin-crust pie. Pizza varieties run the gamut from margherita and four-cheese to the heavy-loaded egg & bacon, decked out with Swiss chard, caramelized onion, and truffle oil. Pizza and beer, works every time.

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11. Eclipse Chocolate 2145 Fern St, San Diego, CA 92104

Whether you're in the mood for a dozen (or three) bacon maple caramels or guilty comfort foods—blackberry and cream French toast and garlic parmesan biscuits—this place has all the bases covered.

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12. Café Gratitude 1980 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101

This completely plant-based chain offers healthy alternatives to not-so-heathy favorites, like their black bean double cheeseburger, Mexican torta, eggplant parm, and pizza (einkorn and kamut flatbread). Café Gratitude also offers vitamin-enriching "shots," meal plans, and detox programs.