Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jul 18, 2009 02:30 PM

FUN and vegetarian


My boyfriend's birthday is coming up, and we will be in the bay area. He is in Novato, but we are willing to travel, I am thinking Berkeley/San Rafael/ or San Francisco, somewhere around there. I want to find a really fun place to eat that has vegetarian options. By fun place I mean something with a fun ambience, maybe fun music (or live music), and of course, good, flavorful, vegetarian food. I love places that get creative or have fun themes.

Oh yeah, I guess it's also important to note that we do have a budget, about $20 a person (at most, the less the better). I just want a good overall experience.

Also, both of us really enjoy trying new foods, and good beer and good wine, so a brewery with good food could also be fun.

I would really appreciate any suggestions. :) Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Damn. I was getting ready to recommend Aziza, Cal-Morrocan with the right options... then you dropped the budget hammer on that...

    ..i'm gasping for air. $20???

    Maybe Ti Couz?

    7 Replies
    1. re: BernalKC

      I looked up the restaurant - and it does look like a wonderful place! I wish I had a bigger budget... I might be able to work something out, I don't know. Still, thanks for mentioning it, I have been doing a bit of research, and have not come across it. It's good to know the place it out there, I hope I will be able to try it sometime soon!

      1. re: BernalKC

        Balking at $20 seems a little elitist don't you think? There are plenty of great options under $15 a person (even under $10) in the Bay Area.

        1. re: katya

          Yeah, there are many good options at that price. I guess where I was balking was the interest in creative places with enhanced ambiance -- that brings to mind the trendy/spendy part of the spectrum where $20 is limiting.

          For instance Ti Couz has fantastic crepes -- the best -- veggie friendly menu, fits the budget (before adding beer and wine tab).... but music? ambiance? creativity? sort of...

          Another favorite of mine is Puerto Allegre. Plenty of veggie options, budget friendly, and they have a bustling, exciting vibe, good drinks... but creative? music? Good beer & wine? Again, close, maybe closer....

          Udupai Palace is a better fit than Dosa (which would be very hard to escape <$20 w/bar tab). They are %100 veggie. S.Indian is cool and not the standard Indian menu. But ambiance, creativity... Dosa wins hands down.

          So that's where I was balking on the $20 target. Lots of good options. But they might not fit all the OPs criteria.

          1. re: BernalKC

            Sorry to get my panties in a bunch over it. I just remember when I started on Chowhound 8 years ago it seemed like so many of the restaurants being discussed were high end and people were often asking for "a cheap restaurant - under $200 for 2." It was very off putting. So I bristle when I read anything that might push people away from Chowhound.

            That said, I know where you're coming from, BernalKC. $20 is on the low side if you're looking for a place with fun music or live music or a fun theme.

            Back to the question at hand, Ethiopian food is a good option for an interesting ambiance with lots of options for veggie (and meat) eaters. My favorite in the Bay Area is Zeni but that's in San Jose and too far. You could check out Cafe Colucci. Most Ethiopian places serve honey wine which might be a fun experience. There are some good Ethiopian options in SF as well - I just haven't been to any there.

            You could do something like Cha Cha Cha (loud! long wait! maybe they have reseravations) for Cuban tapas. The ambiance is fun. You may want to check the menu to see your veggie options there.

            I can't think of a really "fun" Thai restaurant but there are usually lots of veggie options there. I thought of Sawadee in Richmond which has the cool traditional tables where you sit over a pit and swing your legs down into the middle. I think in the East Bay Ruen Pair has better food though. Khan Toke in SF has them. I've never been there but I used to hear really good things about it.

            Khan Toke tables:

            Cafe Colucci
            6427 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

            Khan Toke Thai House
            5937 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

            Cha Cha Cha
            1801 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

            1. re: katya

              Khan Toke is still charming, but the food is on the bland side and pricey for Thai.

              The food at Cha Cha Cha especially the branch on Mission is best avoided.

              1. re: katya

                And they requested alcohol for their $20.

                1. re: katya

                  Haha, I know, it is a tight budget, I just thought I'd try and see what I can do with that much money - and it does seem that there are quite a few fun options! Thanks for those options too! I can't wait to try them out. Last weekend we wanted to try out Cha Cha Cha, but yeah, the wait was about an hour and a half - next time I guess.

                  Thanks for all of your wonderful suggestions, I will refer back to these posts whenever I am in the bay looking for a good place to eat. :)

          2. Here's creative in the food department, in interesting neighborhoods for other fun activities:

            Cafe Gratitude is raw food, and it's pretty tasty and relentlessly upbeat (like a vegetarian musical). They have a wine and beer license, and you can get out of there for $40 for two. There's a branch in SF and in Berkeley.

            Lots of South Indian vegetarian options in that price range. Udupi Palace on Valencia in the Mission is well located for you to find some inexpensive live music after.

            Ethiopian food is another good cuisine for vegetarians, plus you get to eat with your hands. Axum in the Lower Haight has a veggie combo that's under $10 each, with interesting beers. Plenty of bars with and without music nearby. I'll let others recommend Ethiopian in the East Bay.

            Generally live music, good drinks, good food, and cheap don't go together all in one place. Someone should open a bar with vegetarian appetizers besides fries.

            Do a search on vegetarian on this board and you'll find many other ideas.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Windy

              Cafe Gratitude
              2200 Fourth St.
              San Rafael, CA 94103
              (415) 824-4652

              Om South India Cuisine
              1518 Fourth Street
              San Rafael, CA 94901
              (415) 458-1779

              Ward Street Cafe will make a veggie plate that's not on the menu
              25 Ward St
              Larkspur, CA 94977
              (415) 924-2493

              Avatar's Punjabi burritos
              15 Madrona St
              Mill Valley, CA 94941
              (415) 381-8293

              Club Waziema is a neighborhood bar, serving Ethiopian fare that fits the budget.
              543 Divisadero St
              San Francisco, CA 94117
              (415) 346-6641

              Cafe Gratitude
              2200 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

              1. re: Cynsa

                And re: Waziema, they have a vegetarian all-you-can eat special. Something like $10 for a huge plate that they'll refill until you can't move anymore. Don't expect much ambiance. It's a dark, whole-in-the-wall type place, but the food is tasty and plentiful. For dessert, walk the short distance to Candybar, where you can enjoy a menu full of desserts. Also, Dosa offers South Indian, and is a little more lively and celebratory than Udupi.

                Club Waziema
                543 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                995 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1335 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                Dosa on Fillmore
                1700 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                1. re: rahir

                  Wow, all these places sound so fun. Especially the Ethiopian place, I will have to try it sometime. I love new and interesting places to eat. Thanks a lot for all the suggestions - I really appreciate it.

            2. Oh! Bissap Baobab! Fun, veggie, cheap. Near closing time, the party moves over to Little Baobab with afro-style DJs and dancing.

              Ti Couz doesn't have music or a "theme" but is close to many bars & watering holes.

              I was going to recommend Cancun Taqueria and 12 Galaxies, but 12 galaxies closed. Fun is dying quickly.

              1. Tajine. Vegetarian cous cous, several appetizer options including cumin lentil dip, fun casual atmosphere (sit on pillows around traditional Moroccan metal tables), plus it turns into a bar/lounge after 10pm.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Pei

                  The place sounds familiar - I will have to check them out.

                2. Thanks so much for all your suggestions! I really appreciate them all - and I want to try out all these places soon, I am up in the bay often - so I think I will! We ended up going to Avatar's... and I thought they were OK. I felt like they did rush us a bit, and the food was so-so. But it was fun trying out the new place! Again, thanks!