Best Spots in San Diego to Have a Meatless Meal
The San Diego vegan scene has had tremendous growth over the past few years, and not only have several new plant-based restaurants and food stands opened, but many non-vegetarian restaurants have started offering vegan options, as well. Whether you are a full-time vegan, or trying to cut back on meat for health and environmental reasons, it’s easy to find something delicious and plant-based to eat in San Diego.
Blind Lady Alehouse (or BLAH, if you want to go by their misleading acronym) is best known for their beer, but they host a “Meatless Monday” party each week featuring vegan specials in addition to their regular menu. Try their vegan pesto pizza, or get the margarita and make it vegan by substituting their almond-milk ricotta for the mozzarella. BLAH gives a percentage of their profits to a local charity each month, so you can have a delicious meatless meal and help make a positive impact on the local community at the same time.
Plant Power Fast Food opened their first location in 2016 in Ocean Beach, and it’s successful launch allowed them to expand into Encinitas, the campus at San Diego State University, Redlands, and Long Beach. Their vision is a plant-based take on fast food—you’ll find the kind of delicious burgers, fries, creamy shakes, and chicken strips you would expect from a fast food chain, just without any animal protein included. Not sure where to start? Try the Big Zac, a take-off on a certain fast food chain’s burger of a similar name.
The menu at Grains offers vegan fare with Thai, American, and Italian-influences, so there’s something for whatever food mood you are in! While some vegan restaurants rely on mock meat, Grains stands out by getting creative with vegetables. Cauliflower is the star of their popcorn chicken and buffalo wings, while mushrooms are used in their takes on calamari and salt & pepper chicken, and are the centerpiece of their mushroom philly cheese sandwich. They also serve vegetable-rich Thai dishes like larb salad, noodle stir-fries, and curry,
Looking for a spot for a vegan date night? Take a seat on the patio at Donna Jean, where you’ll be treated to a meal featuring seasonal, sustainable ingredients. Chef Roy Elam’s goal was to introduce the kind of plant-based cuisine that even the most stubborn meat eaters can appreciate. He’s done that with his menu of handmade pastas, creative pizzas, and fresh salads. When it comes to appetizers, the popular Hot Shrooms feature Nashville-style breaded oyster mushrooms served with pickles, house-made hot sauce, and white bread. Meanwhile, the cast iron mac & cheese is so rich and satisfying, you may not believe it’s vegan!
Sister Rays is definitely not “health food”, but it’s a great place for both vegans and meat-eaters to indulge a burger craving. Substitute an Impossible Burger patty or Field Roast hot dog and enjoy a meat-free version of your favorite diner classic like chili dogs and flat top burgers. Add a side of fried pickles and french fries if you really want to do it right!
With the rise of innovative vegan cuisine served at places like those listed above, you’ll be able to reduce your intake of animal products and never feel deprived. It’s easy to find plenty of incredible plant-based options in San Diego, and when in doubt, ask your server for ways the chef may be able to accommodate you.
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