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Vet my vegan List for SF?

I am in SF for work for a few days and I was wondering if the vegans out there could vet my list, or suggest others. I will be working the Embarcadero area and don't really have the time on this trip to get out to the outer limits of the city, the way I would like to.

1. Loving Hut (of course), Westfield Mall and possibly the Irving location
2. Plant Cafe Organic
3. Thai Idea Vegetarian
4. Millennium
5. Marinara pizza at Tony's Pizza Napoletano
6. Enjoy Vegetarian
7. Gracias Madre (desserts only) if I have time

I've been to Lucky Creation, Golden Era, Herbivore and Ananda Fuera, so I am not interested in those three. Also, not interested in Indian restaurants. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Not sure if you'll be in need for a snack, but you could check out the Ferry Building. Acme Bread doesn't list egg glaze on their bread ingredients. Scream Sorbet is open Thus 10-2 and Hodo Soy Beanery has a Kiosk in the Ferry Building everyday:

    2 Replies
    1. re: hyperbowler

      Hodo also sells yuba and tofu at Whole Foods and many natural foods stores in the city now.

      1. re: hyperbowler

        Oh yeah, I forgot about that kiosk. It's right next to the doorway and I always pass it by. I'll have to make a note to try it this time.

      2. I'd add Minako (organic Japanese, dinner only, near 16th St BART, lots of vegan sushi as well as cooked dishes)

        I don't like Millennium or Enjoy. I'm also not a vegan or vegetarian.

        For future reference, I loved Flaco's Tacos near Ashby BART in Berkeley.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Windy

          Thanks. I was thinking about Minako, but I was scared away because I hate Cha-Ya. I might give it a try.

          1. re: choctastic

            Minako is much much better than Cha-ya if rather quirky. it's a mother/daughter operation. Judy (the daughter) is awesome. rolls are big and it's a tiny place. She's tell you if have ordered too much and they grow most of the produce themselves.

            1. re: choctastic

              It's nothing like Chaya. And despite the many sushi options, I especially recommend the cooked dishes.

          2. Millennium is a must, although it's only open for dinner. If you're working in the Embarcadero area, the Irving branch of Loving Hut is too far for a lunch trip - you'll be spending the better part of an hour on or waiting for Muni. It's a chain, so the menus are pretty much the same. If you're in that part of the city, though, there's also Cafe Gratitude on 9th near Irving and a deli, Daily Health, on 9th between Irving and the park.

            5 Replies
            1. re: tardigrade

              Cafe Gratitude hasn't been at 9th and Irving for a couple of years. I agree, MUNI takes forever to get out there for lunch.

              1. re: tardigrade

                I'm sold. I've heard conflicting reports about Millennium, but since my budget is pretty high, might as well give it a whirl this time. thanks

                1. re: choctastic

                  Millennium is pretty much the only high-end vegan restaurant. Gather in Berkeley might be the best vegan food these days, the BART ride from Embarcadero is a little over 20 minutes.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I was looking at Gather, actually. 20 mins, not including the schlep to the station and the wait for the ride. Still, good call; I may have to just suck it up and cross water for this.

                    1. re: choctastic

                      It's really good. If you go, don't miss the vegan "charcuterie."

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  galette 88 is NOT vegan friendly, they use dairy is all the crepes.

                  1. re: tjinsf

                    Galette 88's galette batter is just buckwheat flour, water, and salt, the only dairy comes from the butter they put on the griddle. For the vegan galette they use oil instead.

                    The crêpes (dessert) are made with milk and eggs.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      funny that's not what they said when we asked if they could make a vegan galette.

                      1. re: tjinsf

                        When were you there? The "Like a Vegan" galette was on the menu when I was there and I find a couple of reports about it online, one just a week ago.

                        If you asked for a vegan crêpe, I imagine they can't do that.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Pizza Orgaasmica sounds pretty cool, but for those prices, i'd rather eat UPN (or TPN, I guess), or Delfina's marinara. I loved Motorino, want something like that.

                    1. re: choctastic

                      Pizza Orgasmica has slices for $3-4, at least the one in Embarcadero Center 2 does. Probably not as good as Tony's Slice House, but not a mile away, either. That location also has all-you-can-eat slices and $3 pints at happy hour.


                      UPN is open only for dinner, you might have to wait in line for an hour, and if you don't get there early they might run out before you get seated. Their $20 12-inch marinara is in a class by itself as far as price goes. Tony's is $13.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        not relevant for vegans, but tony's margherita is $19, compared with still $20 at UPN. I'd consider the one at UPN to be far superior. for value, i'd recommend the marinara at a16 over either of these.

                        1. re: Dustin_E

                          To me, UPN vs. Tony's STG was a toss-up, but traditional Neapolitan is not my favorite style of pizza so they all suffer a bit compared with the popular local NY-Naples style.

                  3. what about
                    1.Greens for vegan with a view (fort mason)
                    2.Minako for homey vegan japanese with punk music (mission)
                    3.Chaya- another vegan japanese place with decent noodles (mission)

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: tjinsf

                      I will try Minako, but I'm not a fan of Cha-Ya, and I work too late to enjoy the view at Greens, though the food is good.

                      1. re: tjinsf

                        I know everyone loves Greens, but I went once a long time ago with some vegans and we had literally every dish on the menu, and NONE of it was good. It was exactly the sort of vegan meal that closed-minded omnivores ridicule: a bowl of beans, a bland soup, a plate of vegetables, and so on. It was outrageously expensive too.

                        I mean it's been quite some years since I've been there, so I don't want to put too much weight on my experience, but I should at least mention it, since the place is so expensive.

                        1. re: dunstable

                          I had the same reaction when I went to Ananda Fuara. I had a very large, bland veggie burger and a brownie. I'll never forget when I turned the brownie over and saw streaks of white fat of unknown (presumably vegetable) origin coating the bottom. I probably should give them a second chance, since they were very nice.

                          1. re: choctastic

                            That's perfectly normal, just means the pan was buttered / oiled and floured (helps keep the brownies from sticking to the pan) a little more heavily than necessary.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Oh, I know it's normal. I've made many brownies myself. It was just offputting, as I would personally use oil instead of solid fat to avoid the problem. Maybe I'm being overly harsh though.

                              1. re: choctastic

                                The white was probably from the flour rather than whatever oil they used.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  I'm goin to go and get another brownie just to make sure, but I could swear it was a solid white congealed fat, not fat/flour mixture, that I saw on the bottom of those things.

                                  1. re: choctastic

                                    If you overgrease a pan typically the fat gets absorbed and you end up with a crunchy bottom and edges. Although I suppose if they're vegan they might not behave the way that the usual butter and egg batter does.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      It behaves similarly with vegan baked goods. However, when you flour and "butter" the pan, you get a telltale residue of flour that shows up on the bottom of the baked good, and you can also feel the slight grit of the flour on your hands. If I recall correctly, these had slick fat all over the bottom of the brownie. Again, my memory may be faulty and I tend to be harsher on my fellow vegetarians than on non-vegetarians.

                      2. spicy tofu and green onion pancake at z&y are really good and vegan.

                        you _might_ be able to call and ask for a vegan menu at jai yun, as half their normal tasting menu is vegan, and i think their vegan dishes are really excellent.

                        1. Just some feedback from my work trip:

                          Well, I had to stick to some of the restaurants on the original list since I had already marked them. I'll be back next week, so I'm definitely trying the rest of the restaurants AND I'll be going to Berkeley this time.

                          The tempeh at Millennium. Best I've ever had. That stuff is so sexy I want to bathe in the sauce. Great service, nice wine pairing, very nice chocolate dessert, though the carrot cake dessert was meh in my opinion since I like a ton of fruity junk in my carrot cake, as opposed to smooth carrot cake goodness.

                          I certainly enjoyed Enjoy Vegetarian even if others didn't. It looked more inviting than Lucky Creation. Their lunch specials aren't bad at all. I'll be back on my next trip...next week!

                          Gracias Madre: had the sweet potato enchiladas and the chocolate cake and almond milk horchata. Eh, lots of food, but I shouldn't have eaten at Millennium the night before, because nothing really enticed me. Oh well.

                          I also had the vegan soup at the SF soup company for lunch once and that wasn't bad at all.

                          Finally, I made a quick jaunt to the Ferry Building and was going to get bread, but got stopped by chocolate. I found out that the chocolate covered orange peel was vegan, so I bought some of that. Chocolate covered cherries might be vegan too. I forget. I also went to Chinatown to Red Blossom Tea Co, for about 5 bags of tea. Yeah, this trip wasn't cheap...

                          I wanted to try Pizza Orgasmica, but didn't make it. I'll have to try that next time.

                          Thanks guys! :-)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: choctastic

                            Thanks for the report! It's much appreciated when people reply back.

                            1. re: choctastic

                              Now that I've had time to think about it, I will say I have no interest in ever darkening the doorway of Gracias Madre again. Overpriced crap food, imho.

                            2. Another update, had another quick work trip:

                              I tried the Loving Hut in Chinatown (near Little Italy) and was BLOWN AWAY by the cakes. I had the chocolate cake. I had the carrot cake. I had the german chocolate cake. They were all good, not the usual dry, stodgy crap that I have to suffer through. I like the desserts better here than at Millennium, especially the carrot cake. I am so sick of tasting coconut oil in the frostings of everything and Millennium's carrot cake was pretty tasteless. I also had the banana split and they use ice cream from Double Rainbow (soy cherry chip, mocha fudge, and vanilla). Didn't get it served with vegan whipped cream, like they used to do at Maggie Moos, but it ok because I liked the ice cream part. Where the hell is my hot fudge though, that's what I really want.

                              I went to the Loving Hut on Irving as well, and they had the same cakes. You can order by the slice for $3.50 each. They said that the chain gets their cakes from some bakery in Santa Cruz.. As usual for this chain, I really liked my dinners here. Loving Hut is a solid bet.

                              Went to Thai Idea as well. I really liked the food, but noticed that they're not very good at mentioning that it's NOT a vegan restaurant and their prices are not the same as on the menu. I have absolutely no problem being charged a fair price, but I think they're going to get in trouble if they don't update their menus to reflect the price they actually charge.

                              Went to Plant Cafe Organic for lunch with the boss. Really liked the Plant Burger, which has beets in it to make it bloody red. Very busy place. Kind of expensive, but for a downtown lunch joint, I couldn't really complain. Liked the salad that came with my burger. This is not a vegan restaurant, so vegans can bring their meat-eating friends here. There's a frozen yogurt shop next door. For breakfast, I often go to the Noah's Bagels that is not far from here (a block). If there's a better bagel shop in the area, I'm all ears.

                              I was also at Herbivore for breakfast. Their combo plate with tofu scramble, banana pancake and hash browns, with a side of freshly squeezed apple juice was as good as I I remember.

                              Also had a lunch at Golden Era, and while not the best Viet vegan food I've had (I live in SoCal where vegan Viet places are all over), it was a solid lunch. Had the vermicelli with crunchy egg rolls on top with greens, and where you pour the sauce all over.

                              Thanks again, Chowhounders.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: choctastic

                                Oh yeah and had lunch at someplace called Cafe Venue. Had this hummus sandwich that was not bad at all.

                                Also went to the SF Soup Company a couple of times. They always have some kind of vegan option, but nothing very thrilling so far. Just some watery soup and a piece of bread. Nothing like the solid lunches i've been getting at Enjoy Vegetarian and places like that.

                                I've been to Lucky Creation a couple of times for lunch as well, when I didn't have time for the bus/cab ride. Wow, it's amazing how they can replicate the exact texture of mucous in their sauces. I got some curry dish one time and it was so mucousy, I just could not eat it. Well, I did eat it because I was hungry but I uncharacteristically did not eat the whole thing. The least mucousy dish I had was vegetables in brown sauce over brown rice.

                              2. Had another really short trip to SF. Tried this vegetarian place called "Source", in SoMa somewhere.

                                I gotta say, turning vegan has made me healthier, if only because I don't ever want to eat dessert anymore. They had vegan cupcakes, ringding type cake and twinkies, cookies, cookie sandwiches. I had a ringding and a twinkie and had a bite of each before tossing. Leaden. The only decent vegan chocolate cake I've had so far was at Loving Hut, of all places. Oh and Babycakes in LA.

                                The signature "Chile Cluck Pie" can be veganized. I got the vegan version which comes with their own cashew cheese sauce drizzled on it. I liked it, but next time I would take off the sweet balsamic glaze, which tasted weird to me in the same bite as truffle oil. Maybe I'm the weird one, but it did not work for me. The crust was great though. They are justly proud of their pizza dough. Not Motorino level (Motorino is my favorite pizza place right now), but still pretty good.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: choctastic

                                  what did you think of the atmosphere. for being a multi-dimensional dining experience it seemed really sterile in design. They don't make any of their vegan desserts in house. I've found the food to be ok but a bit overpriced for what it is and the ordering set up is annoying. You should try out the vegan food at Dante's Weird Fish in the Mission on your next visit. It's tasty food that happens to be vegan. They also have vegan chocolate cake (they also serve fish).

                                  1. re: tjinsf

                                    My thoughts mirror yours. I did not think it was a multi-dimensional dining experience (what the hell does that mean anyway) and while my servers were great to me, I didn't think the level of service warranted a 20% tip. I thought the prices were a bit high for what it was. I mean, I could have a really great pizza at UPN (marinara) for just a little more than what I paid for Source's decent if not spectacular pizza. I also got a whiff of attitude when I asked for a box for the rest of my pizza. The gal at the counter suggested I use foil instead. I totally respect and understand her viewpoint, but I felt I needed a box because I was walking back to the hotel and thought I would need some extra support. She was not happy when I just ended up grabbing a box from the counter.

                                    I will try Dante's Weird Fish on my next trip. How good is the vegan chocolate cake? I like really moist, rich, chocolatey cake, preferably with either a ganache or a light, whipped frosting. Strangely, I really love the german chocolate cake at Loving Hut. I usually hate it, but their version is not terribly sweet and rich enough for me to gobble up.

                                    1. re: choctastic


                                      I agree with you about Source: a lot of attitude for pretty decent food. That said, the fact the restaurant is all-vegetarian (i.e., you don't have to worry about a piece of meat falling in or about asking whether every cheese uses vegetarian rennet) and can accommodate requests for no onion and no garlic is extremely helpful for anyone who has Jain guests or relatives with them. I didn't mind the price.

                                      Ordering, for anyone thinking about visiting is order-at-the-counter-and-get-a-number style.

                                      What/where is UPN, and do they use cheese with vegetarian rennet?

                                      11 Division Street (SOMA)
                                      Just West of the Muni/Caltrain Station at 4th & King
                                      San Francisco, CA
                                      415 864 9000

                                      1. re: meellerbee

                                        UPN = Una Pizza Napoletana. Dunno about the rennet but they make a marinara.