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vegetarian-friendly places (sf/peninsula)

atjsfo Jul 20, 2009 11:24 PM


Help! I'm dating a (lacto ovo) vegetarian who is fairly indifferent to food. I'm so much the opposite - I'll drive an hour just to try good pizza or ice cream or ....

To add to that, he's not a big fan of "fancy" places/doesn't think going to a place like greens is worth the expense.

So I'm looking for recommendations for places in the bay area, especially in the city or the peninsula/south bay. Here is the kinds of things I'm looking for:

1. everyday places we can go to that will have good food and at least a couple reasonable non-meat options.

2. special places that do well with non-meat options. I'm thinking Aziza and maybe Nopa, but maybe others have recommendations? Although he doesn't particularly want to go to places that expensive, he'll accompany me if I really want to go.

3. any good veg options? I know all about greens, milennium, ubuntu, cafe gratitude, ananda fuara, and the various south indian places. Any other places that you might recommend? Is herbivore ok?

Thanks for your help chowhounds!


  1. Robert Lauriston Mar 16, 2012 09:29 AM

    Barbacco and Incanto have great vegetarian dishes.

    Galette 88 kicks all other crêpe places to the curb.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      veganfriendly Mar 16, 2012 03:13 PM

      Awesome, will check them out! Thanks

      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        mrsdebdav Mar 16, 2012 10:44 PM

        After reading your suggestions and checking the menu at Barbacco, I immediately booked Barbacco for the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend. Any equally special resto suggestions suitable for vegetarians and omnivores? I will be spending that weekend visiting SF with my (adult) kids, and we do love us some food!
        Thanks, Robert!

        1. re: mrsdebdav
          ceekskat Mar 17, 2012 06:03 PM

          Slanted Door, Kokkari & dim sum at Yank Sing. There's no shortage of Cal-Italian/Italian in SF - in addition to Barbacco, there's A16, Delfina, Locanda, Pizzeria Delfina & Zero Zero. Also, variety of eats at Ferry Building, especially on Saturday.

          1. re: ceekskat
            Robert Lauriston Mar 17, 2012 06:25 PM

            Oh yeah, Yank Sing is vegetarian-friendly. I had a business lunch there with a vegetarian and was surprised at how well we ate.

      2. v
        veganfriendly Mar 15, 2012 05:46 PM

        My favorites, in order, with style in brackets followed by my fave dishes
        1. Garden Fresh, Palo Alto (Chinese Vegan) (Awesome esp the owner) - Black Pepper "chicken"
        2. Garden Fresh, Mountain View (Chinese Vegan) - Orange "Beef"
        3. Green Cafe, Milpitas (Chinese Vegan) - Humble Curry
        4. Lucky Creation, San Francisco (Chinese Vegan) - Taro Fish
        5. Udupi Palace, Sunnyvale (Indian) - Dosa
        6. Ananda Fuara, San Francisco (Indian/European/New Age): Chicory Coffee and check out the videos
        7. Oren's Hummus Shop, Palo Alto (Israeli) - Fava bean hummus -> creamy
        8. Herbivore, San Francisco (ecclectic) - pita pockets

        Give Greens and Millenium a miss, they are overpriced and no "wow" dishes. Give Loving Hut a miss, everything is re-heated. Give French restaurants a miss - they'll give you token stuff at an exhorbitant price. Give Japanese restaurants a miss, unless you like deep fried options (agedashi tofu + veg tempura)

        Italian ones are OK - for a decent, reasonably priced meal try Pasta? in Palo Alto. Mediterranean and Indian restaurants generally always have something interesting for veggies, but watch the oil, especially in the curries.
        Alan K (Vegetarian since 1999)

        8 Replies
        1. re: veganfriendly
          choctastic Mar 15, 2012 09:43 PM

          I dunno. I thought the braised tempeh at Millennium was really awesome, a wow dish for me.
          Loving Hut up here sucks, the ones in SoCal are way better.

          1. re: choctastic
            veganfriendly Mar 16, 2012 03:13 PM

            My experience at Millenium was a little disappointing - vegan version of Mexican food which would have been a lot better in an authentic Mexican :( But I do love tempeh! I guess I was there for the wrong "season"

            1. re: veganfriendly
              choctastic Mar 17, 2012 10:41 AM

              Oh, did you get the black bean torta? Yeah, that seems to be really popular, but I couldn't resist the crispy oyster mushrooms as my app. It was just like the crispy oyster mushrooms I can get at any vegtarian Chinese place, but they didn't have any basil in there. The batter was nice an light though, and the oysters were fresh. Tempeh was my main dish and oh gosh I loved it. They braised it so it was like running your knife through (vegan) butter, and it was bathed in a coconut curry sauce with some Thai basil thrown in. Roasted brussel sprouts and some other roasted vegetable completed it. It was great the next morning as well. :-)

              1. re: veganfriendly
                choctastic Mar 17, 2012 10:44 AM

                Is there anything besides the taro fish at Lucky Creation that you would order? I've had the char siu bao and it was just okay. I've had some tofu/veg/rice dish for lunch that was just okay.

            2. re: veganfriendly
              choctastic Mar 17, 2012 10:45 AM

              I like the roasted banana pancakes at Herbivore. They're not the best vegan pancakes ever but these guys are huge and taste pretty good.

              1. re: veganfriendly
                tjinsf Mar 17, 2012 04:25 PM

                1.Minako in the mission makes excellent Japanese vegan food and far more than tofu and tempura),
                2. Udupi on Valancia is all veg and very affordable
                3.Greens cost as much as it does for the location as the food but the food has always been solid when I have been there but yes it's more a special occasion place.
                4. Golden Era in the Tenderloin, all veg, they do lots of fake meat but it's really well done. love the tamarind beef (fake of course), large menu and even my friend who raise their own meat liked it.
                5. Herbivore has really gone downhill over the years. I use to eat here weekly but the food is really inconsistent in quality and the food is rather boring.

                1. re: tjinsf
                  Robert Lauriston Mar 17, 2012 04:55 PM

                  I like Udupi, it's one of the few vegetarian places I go to.


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    goldangl95 Mar 18, 2012 12:26 AM

                    +1 Udupi is great. DOSA, closeby, has great vegetarian dishes (but is not a vegetarian only) and has more "atmosphere" and is therefore more expensive ...some find the added experience at DOSA worth it.

                    Either way, Udupi has great S. Indian Veg. food. Better priced more hole-in-the-wall.

              2. g
                Growlfood Feb 4, 2012 08:55 AM

                For casual dining, Sprout in Palo Alto is lovely. Chipotle is awesome for both veg and carnists. Skip the sour cream and cheese and the bean burrito/rice bowl is vegan even. Any build your own salad or taco bar makes it easy to accommodate dietary preferences/allergies.

                1. r
                  rahir Jul 24, 2009 02:42 PM

                  I've always been mixed about Herbivore. The service is more hit than miss, and while they offer a huge menu, more times than not the flavors don't quite sing. Firefly,, which has been mentioned, is a great option. Dosa is fun for dates, especially the bar area at the Fillmore location. For special places, Aziza and Nopa, as you mentioned are great. So are Saha and Absinthe. I'm also a huge fan of Pizzetta 211 and Weird Fish, which are smaller and more casual, and Papalote has several great veggie burritos and tacos on their menu for everyday-type eating. For other veg options, I'd add Shangri-la (veg Chinese) and Golden Era (veg Vietnamese) to the list.

                  P.S. I agree that Greens isn't worth the expense...This man's a keeper!

                  Papalote Mexican Grill
                  3409 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  995 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  Golden Era Vegetarian
                  572 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                  Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
                  398 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                  Saha Arabic Fusion Restaurant
                  1075 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

                  Weird Fish
                  2193 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  Pizzetta 211
                  211 23rd Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

                  Papalote Mexican Grill
                  1777 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                  Shangri-La Vegetarian
                  2026 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

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

                  1. b
                    boopa Jul 22, 2009 06:09 PM

                    Try Vegetarian House in San Jose. Not fancy, but good food (even for those of us that are not veggie-inclined).

                    International Vegetarian House
                    520 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

                    1. l
                      LAWoman Jul 22, 2009 03:45 PM

                      Firefly has great options.

                      Firefly Restaurant
                      4288 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                      1. r
                        rednails Jul 21, 2009 09:59 PM

                        For a casual option, I highly recommend Crepevine. 3 locations in SF and one in Burlingame. The website doesn't give much detail, but they really do have a good variety of vegetarian options. Their breakfast items are very generous portions,. I go to the one in Burlingame and they are very, very busy.


                        1. k
                          katya Jul 21, 2009 06:14 PM

                          Cuisines like Ethiopian, Indian (if you do South Indian that's usually only veg), and Thai are good options.

                          Some of my favorite places include Zeni (may be too far south for you), Annapoorna (South Indian), Sai's (Vietnamese; I love their green beans in black bean sauce), and Park Chow or Chow (they have some veggie pasta dishes and I LOVE their seasonal Roma tomatoes appetizer). A vegan friend of mine loves Millennium but I wasn't as enamored.

                          2299 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403

                          Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant
                          1320 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                          Park Chow
                          1238 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

                          215 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                          Millennium Restaurant
                          580 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94102

                          505 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                          1. bbulkow Jul 21, 2009 09:44 AM

                            Greens, in particular, isn't worth the expense.

                            My veg sister's favorite restaurant is Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park - I like it a lot, too. Medium-spendy, good meat and good veg.

                            1. jpancake Jul 21, 2009 09:10 AM

                              Almost every restaurant in the city has a couple reasonable non-meat options, especially if he's 'indifferent' to food. Check menus beforehand if you want to be sure.

                              Also, this question is asked several times a month, so try this search for prior recommendations:


                              For the record, and in my opinion, Herbivore is extremely boring EXCEPT for the soy chicken shwarma(sic?) which is amazingly delicious.

                              1. Cynsa Jul 21, 2009 06:24 AM

                                1. Endless Everyday options: Ala Turka, Tajine, Helmand Restaurant, Lers Ros Thai, Club Waziema, Shanghai Dumpling King, Little Chihuahua, Saffron Grill, Jannah - the list is neverending
                                3. Veg Options: Udupi Palace, Karma

                                A La Turca
                                869 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                Club Waziema
                                543 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                Helmand Palace
                                2424 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                Shanghai Dumpling King
                                3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                Udupi Palace
                                1007 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                200 6th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                Lers Ros Thai
                                730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

                                Tajine (Heights)
                                2080 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Cynsa
                                  Lori SF Jul 23, 2009 04:59 PM

                                  Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese Restaurant. I was just there last week with a group everything was fresh and good tastes. Cash only.

                                  I hear they are opening another location on 9th near Irving might of been where Cafe Gratitude was.

                                  1. re: Cynsa
                                    kristinar27 Jul 24, 2009 04:35 PM

                                    If you are willing to go down to Burlingame, Que SeRaw SeRaw is a great place, also serving vegan food. However, they have very limited hours and there are only two tiny tables to sit at. It is a favorite in the nieghborhood and on yelp.
                                    1160 Capuchino Ave
                                    Burlingame, CA 94010
                                    (650) 400-8590

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