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vegetarian-friendly places (sf/peninsula)


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!


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  1. 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

      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

        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

      2. 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. 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. 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. 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. Firefly has great options.

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

                1. 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. 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. 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. 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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                              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

                                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

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


                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    +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. Barbacco and Incanto have great vegetarian dishes.

                                Galette 88 kicks all other crêpe places to the curb.

                                4 Replies
                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    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

                                      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

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