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Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant in San Francisco

I recently converted to eating vegetarian and I am looking for a really good vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the city. I was planning to take bart because I will be meeting people in Union Square, but I could drive if the restaurant is located in another area. I'm not interested in eating pressed tofu made to look like chicken or beef. I'd like to find a restaurant that seves local/seasonal vegetables prepared with some creativity with whole grains and not a lot gooey cheese products. Also, since I'm the only vegetarian in the group, a non-vege restaurant would be fine as well, as long as they have a good selection of vegetarian dishes. Price Range $$ or $$$.

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  1. Millennium and Greens are the two upscale / nicer vegetarian places in SF.

    Slanted Door is quite vegetarian-friendly. So is Dosa.

    Cha-Ya (vegan Japanese) and Udupi Palace (vegetarian South Indian).

    6 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Really? Cha-Ya is vegan, not vegetarian?

      1. re: vulber

        Definitely. "Vegan Japanese food inspired by Zen cooking."

        1. re: vulber

          vulber, are you confusing it with Chaya (no hyphen) on Embarcadero? That's French/"Asian", not necessarily veg.

          I don't see the SF Cha-Ya locations listed on CH yet, but there's one on Valencia and one in the Sunset.

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          Chaya Brasserie
          132 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

          1. re: pockyjunkie

            no, i meant cha-ya, i was just confused because they always advertise themselves as vegetarian

            1. re: vulber

              I suppose the answer would be in their dashi (and i'm not a vegan so I admit I've not questioned) - if it's got fish or if it's purely veg based. They do call out a few things as 'vegan' on the menu that would possibly be made with egg or dairy elsewhere (like cake), but many of the items not specifically designated vegan are actually vegan, like their chawan-mushi.

              1. re: vulber

                If you make a traditional Japanese dish vegetarian, 99% of the time you've made it vegan, since they rarely use dairy products, eggs, or honey.

          1. re: ceekskat

            Oh yeah, I had lunch at Perbacco with a vegetarian and there were lots of options. Though my favorites there are the salumi and braised meats.

            Ironically, given its famous focus on offal, Incanto always has great seasonal vegetable dishes, mostly among the appetizers. There's always at least one vegetarian pasta and one entree, though those can sometimes be disappointing--I presume the kitchen has to make them even if there's nothing in the day's haul that's particularly inspiring.

          2. "I'd like to find a restaurant that seves local/seasonal vegetables prepared with some creativity with whole grains and not a lot gooey cheese products."

            For these, I'd pass on Cha-Ya and Udupi. Neither really shows a lot of local/seasonal items. The whole grains part is a little tough to nail down, too (as pasta doesn't really fit the bill). Taking the local/seasonal vegetables into consideration, I recommend Absinthe (Hayes Valley), Millennium, Nopa (Alamo Square/Divis corridor), and/or Firefly (Noe Valley).

            I've also recommended Saha (at the edges of the Tenderloin/Nob Hill line) several times on the board; it offers a lot of veggie and vegan dishes in addition to meat options.

            6 Replies
            1. re: rahir

              The menus at Absinthe and Nopa don't seem very vegetarian-friendly to me.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I'm vegetarian (have been for 8 years; no meat, no fish, no meat/fish broth, etc. Also am lactose-intolerant), and never have any problem finding veg options at Absinthe and Nopa.

                1. re: rahir

                  They may be accommodating, but Absinthe's current sample menu has four hot vegetarian dishes: fried chickpeas, french fries, mushroom soup, and mushroom pasta.

                  http://www.absinthe.com/pdf/menu/dinn...

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    That soup sounds delicious: CHESTNUT & MUSHROOM SOUP walnut oil, crispy crimini mushrooms, micro celery

                    As does the poached quince salad: POACHED QUINCE escarole, cinnamon-toast croutons, pear vinaigrette, fresh goat cheese, quince saba

                    There's also a brussells sprouts dish that I've had there before, minus the bacon vinaigrette.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  There's definitely a very limited selection of vegetarian items on the NOPA menu, but the baked goat cheese and vegetable tagine are out of this world and better than most of the meat offerings (which are also stellar)

                3. re: rahir

                  Adding restaurant links.

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                  Nopa
                  560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

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

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

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

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

                4. You might be interested in this brand new restaurant in the MIssion, just a couple of blocks from the 16th St BART station: http://www.gracias-madre.com/web/ They have their own farm where they get most of their produce. I haven't been there.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: rebeccajchow

                    always interested to hear of new Mexican options...but I found the website you linked to be just plain confusing. It states that "Our food is 100% Organic and Vegan" but many of the menu items list "cheese". Sometimes the menu states "cashew cheese" but sometimes not. I am guessing that one can presume that all of the 'cheese' is actually vegan?

                    I must admit that I remain skeptical about the concept of vegan enchiladas suizas...

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      It is another restaurant by the Cafe Gratitude people, so yes, I think that all of the "cheese" is some sort of nut cheese.

                      1. re: JasmineG

                        Though unlike Cafe Gratitude it's not all raw.

                      2. re: susancinsf

                        Yep, all of the cheese is nut cheese, not dairy based. GM was closed yesterday, awaiting inspectors. No word on if they are open today.

                    2. Have you tried Kuleto's? It looks expensive but its not too bad and they always have great veg options.

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                      Kuleto's
                      221 Powell St., San Francisco, CA 94102