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Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant in San Francisco

cheftanya Dec 29, 2009 09:20 AM

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 $$ or $$$.

  1. r
    rahir Feb 1, 2010 01:30 PM

    Did you ever try any of the restaurants mentioned in this thread?

    1. v
      vulber Jan 8, 2010 03:40 PM

      If you can communicate your wishes to them, Jai Yun has some excellent vegetarian and vegan dishes, but that's a huge if to them.

      1 Reply
      1. re: vulber
        poot Mar 1, 2010 03:24 PM

        If any vegetarian would like to dine at Jai Yun, I'd be happy to phone for you and communicate your dietary specifics to the staff. Email me at sgilbert524 at yahoo dot com. I had a memorable vegan meal there.

      2. l
        LAWoman Jan 8, 2010 02:51 PM

        Saha is a great choices for veggies and meat eaters.


        1 Reply
        1. re: LAWoman
          omasciarotte Nov 10, 2010 12:05 PM

          Agreed. Had dinner yesterday with a vegetarian business associate. The decor and seating were comfortable, the service was professional, and prices were reasonable. My friend ordered the stuffed avocado as an appetizer and said it was the best avocado dish he'd ever had. As an entrée, he had the veg. “bastilla,” which he said was excellent. I ordered the fried okra, which was nicely done and quite yummy, along with the trad. bastilla. Not the best pigeon pie I’ve had but very good. Washed it all down w/their “arabic” spiced tea w/mint…

          All in all, competent cooking in a pleasant atmosphere made for a two thumbs up dining experience. BTW, the menu has items marked as vegan, gluten–free or both.

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

        2. rworange Jan 7, 2010 09:45 AM

          Anyone tried Gracias Madre, the new vegan Mexican restaurant by the Cafe Gratitude people? From what I'm reading there is no Gratitude attitude there and the food may be good, especially those involving butternut squash. While the dishes are ok-ish price wise, it seems the non-alcoholic drinks are something to keep an eye on ... ginger ale $8.

          Gracias Madre
          2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          1 Reply
          1. re: rworange
            vulber Jan 8, 2010 03:40 PM

            Yes, I went there last night. It's delicious food, but like Cafe Gratitude, it leaves me wondering about how it could be even better with dairy products.

            Would recommend.

          2. b
            BVegan Jan 7, 2010 09:35 AM

            I have tried Loving Hut in San Francisco and it's good. (I like their ocean basket, all veg, thumbs up)
            1365 Stockton Street
            San Francisco, CA 94133
            (415) 362-2199

            Loving Hut
            1365 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA

            2 Replies
            1. re: BVegan
              rahir Jan 8, 2010 02:16 PM

              Loving Hut is all veg, but there are a lot of fried mock meat items on the menu.

              1. re: BVegan
                bbulkow Jan 9, 2010 10:57 PM

                And it should go under chains, since they have 100 locations in 19 countries.

              2. chandran Dec 30, 2009 09:51 PM

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

                221 Powell St., San Francisco, CA 94102

                1. r
                  rebeccajchow Dec 30, 2009 11:20 AM

                  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
                    susancinsf Dec 30, 2009 11:30 AM

                    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
                      JasmineG Dec 30, 2009 11:32 AM

                      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
                        Robert Lauriston Dec 30, 2009 12:44 PM

                        Though unlike Cafe Gratitude it's not all raw.

                      2. re: susancinsf
                        rahir Dec 30, 2009 03:18 PM

                        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. r
                      rahir Dec 29, 2009 03:28 PM

                      "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
                        Robert Lauriston Dec 29, 2009 05:02 PM

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

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          rahir Dec 29, 2009 06:55 PM

                          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
                            Robert Lauriston Dec 30, 2009 07:53 AM

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


                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              rahir Dec 30, 2009 08:46 AM

                              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
                            vulber Dec 29, 2009 09:21 PM

                            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
                            rahir Jan 11, 2010 12:36 PM

                            Adding restaurant links.

                            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. c
                            ceekskat Dec 29, 2009 10:26 AM

                            Perbacco. I've had great pastas (gnocchi) as well as meat/fish dishes.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ceekskat
                              Robert Lauriston Dec 29, 2009 11:19 AM

                              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. Robert Lauriston Dec 29, 2009 09:34 AM

                              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
                                vulber Dec 29, 2009 10:11 AM

                                Really? Cha-Ya is vegan, not vegetarian?

                                1. re: vulber
                                  Robert Lauriston Dec 29, 2009 10:18 AM

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

                                  1. re: vulber
                                    pockyjunkie Jan 11, 2010 12:52 PM

                                    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.

                                    Chaya Brasserie
                                    132 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                    1. re: pockyjunkie
                                      vulber Jan 11, 2010 03:00 PM

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

                                      1. re: vulber
                                        pockyjunkie Jan 11, 2010 09:47 PM

                                        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
                                          Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2010 09:39 AM

                                          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.

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