From technology to gastronomy, the Bay Area has never shied away from leading the way. Luckily for vegans that means countless eateries with menus full of plant-based burgers, meat-free Mexican, Asian cuisines and dairy-free desserts. Here's our list of best vegan restaurants around the San Francisco Bay Area.
As the name suggests, Nourish Cafe focuses on good food that fuels you – without using any animal products in the process. Their two locations in San Francisco - Richmond and Nob Hill – have menus with items like smoothie bowls, egg and dairy-free waffles and of course, avocado toast. When it comes to drinks, Nourish Cafe offers juices that pack a nutritious punch and are filled with spinach, apple, parsley, celery, ginger and lemon.
The Butcher’s Son
It’s impossible to talk about great vegan food in the Bay Area without looking at what the East Bay has to offer. The Butcher’s Son, opened by a brother-sister duo in 2016, is a favorite among Cal students and Berkeley residents.
This fully plant-based restaurant located in the heart of Berkeley dishes up classic sandwiches with a vegan twist. Whether you go for the buffalo bacon ranch fried chicken sandwich, the BBQ pulled pork sandwich with yuba (tofu skin) or maybe a tuna salad utilizing jackfruit, you won’t be disappointed.
As recently as a few years ago, your options for vegan cuisine were limited. Today, across the Bay Area it’s a different story. Take Souley Vegan, located in downtown Oakland (near Jack London Square) and specializes in Creole dishes and flavors – all made with 100% plant-based ingredients.
Dig into okra gumbo or seitan-based ‘chicken’ and waffles or ‘shrimp’ and grits, each paired with their $20 bottomless mimosas for brunch, and you’ll be surprised when you leave and aren’t right in the heart of the French Quarter.
No matter how long you’ve been vegan, sometimes you just crave a burger – and in the brave new world of substitutes – that’s not a problem anymore.
VeganBurg is the place to go when those cravings hit. They have locations in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, as well as Singapore if you find yourself on the other side of the Pacific. Since they opened in 2010 as the ‘world’s first 100% plant-based burger joints’, the VeganBurg menu has grown to eight incredible burger options. Bestsellers include the avocado beetroot, haight n’ salsa and creamy shrooms, along with plenty of animal-free toppings, and sides like jalapeño aioli fries and sizzlin’ broccoli.
Golden Era Vegan
Golden Era Vegan in Mid-Market provides vegan alternatives to popular Asian dishes. Whether you’re a fan of popular Thai dishes like pad thai, Vietnamese food like pho or Chinese sweet and sour dishes, you can find them all at Golden Era with tofu and soy protein substitute.
As one of the longer-standing vegan restaurants on this list, Golden Era has been a fixture in the Bay Area since 1999 when the first dot-com boom helped set San Francisco on its path as one of the world’s preeminent tech cities. Like many restaurants in fast-developing San Francisco, Golden Era Vegan has relocated near San Francisco City Hall, putting them in a great spot for visitors too.
The Mission is known for its California-sized burritos stuffed full of rice, beans, salsa and meat, which can be disappointing if you’re trying to eat meat-free and enjoy a Mission-style burrito at its source.
Named to say ‘Thank You, Mother Earth,’ Gracias Madre may not help solve your burrito shortage, but their menu of meat-free Mexican food includes other highlights like chilaquiles with cashew crema and avocado, or a chimichanga with tempeh chorizo and cashew chipotle aioli. Located in the heart of the Mission, Gracias Madre is a favorite for both vegans and vegetarians – and you can expect the same kind of lines for vegetarian cuisine as for any taqueria in the neighborhood.
Vegan Donut Gelato
For those with a sweet tooth, head to Vegan Donut Gelato in Oakland. Opt for a classic jelly donut or perhaps a scoop of chocolate gelato, but the real magic happens when you combine the two. Order a gelato sandwich made with two donuts and a healthy dose of gelato between them. You might feel guilty about the calories, but you won’t feel guilty about any animal-based ingredients.
Vegan Donut Gelato is located on the far side of Lake Merritt from downtown, but it’s worth the trek. Rent a scooter and enjoy a quick zip along the lakefront to reach the East 18th Street spot.