San Diego’s best vegan restaurants

A vegan double cheeseburger at Native Foods Cafe, one of a growing number of vegan restaurants in San Diego County.
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Vegan food has been named among the top six global culinary trends of 2018, and San Diego is well ahead of the curve.

Over the past year, several new vegan eateries have opened around the county, joining an already crowded field. Here are 24 of the most recent entries as well as some of our old favorites, listed in alphabetical order.

Plant-based plates coming out of the kitchen at Anthem Vegan restaurant, which opened in North Park in February 2018.
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Anthem Vegan, North Park

Patrick Murray’s popular farmers market vegan deli stand opened its first brick-and-mortar location in February. The vegan restaurant, deli and market expands on the menu found at the Ocean Beach, Hillcrest and SDSU market stands, with a wider variety of plant-based brunch items, salads, wraps, burritos, bowls and sandwiches. Murray said the restaurant is known for its burgers, faux meats, breakfast dishes and its made-from-scratch sauces, which are also available for sale. Closed on Mondays. 2611 El Cajon Blvd., North Park. (619) 268-4367.

The "I Am Magical" vegan burger at Cafe Gratitude.
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Cafe Gratitude, Little Italy

The Venice-based, six-store vegan chain opened its first San Diego County location in Little Italy in 2015. Menu items with quirky names like “I am dazzling” and “I am humble” include soups, salads, sandwiches, noodle dishes, pizza, enchiladas and desserrts. 1980 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy. (619) 736-5077.

Fresh-squeezed juices at the vegan Choice Superfood Bar & Juicery, whith locations in Carlsbad, Solana Beach and Del Sur.
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Choice Superfood Bar & Juicery, multiple locations

With three locations in coastal North County, Choice is the cleansing juice bar of choice for vegans. All items are vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free. The quick-service, grab-and-go shops offer fresh-squeezed juice drinks, smoothies and cold bowls with superfood (nuts, seeds, grains and berries) mix-ins. The shops also mix flavored almond milks, seasonal soups and salads, hot breakfast items and bakery treats. 430 Carlbad Village Drive, Carlsbad. 439 Highway 101, Suite 118, Solana Beach. 17135 Camino Del Sur, Suite 125, Del Sur.

Socca pizzas and skillet mac ‘n’ cheese are specialties at Donna Jean vegan restaurant in Bankers Hill.
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Donna Jean, Bankers Hill

Open since August 2017, this homey patio restaurant serves vegan fare seasoned with herbs from its onsite garden, as well as kombucha and beer. It’s named for Chef Roy Elam’s late mother, who died at age 55 from breast cancer, which he believes could have been prevented with a plant-based diet. Specialties include socca pizzas (flatbread made with chickpea flour), skillet mac ’n’ cheese, mushroom risotto, Nashville hot mushrooms and house-made pies. Closed on Tuesdays. 2949 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill. (619) 299-5500.

The Pad Thai Love Bowl at EVE: Encinitas Vegan Experience, which opened in 2016.
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EVE: Encinitas Vegan Experience

This vegan/vegetarian cafe and juicery opened in 2016 and is best known for its Buddha Bowls, grain and veggie dishes with optional meat alternative, acai bowls, burritos, flatbreads and salads. EVE has live entertainment and programming several nights a week, including comedy shows, concerts, speakers, meditations and more. 575 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas. (760) 230-2560.

Fries with chili and cheese at Evolution Fast Food vegan restaurant in Bankers Hill.
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Evolution Fast Food, Bankers Hill

San Diego’s original vegan fast food outlet was opened in 2009 by Mitch Wallis and Rich Robinson. The hut-like restaurant specializes in burgers, tacos, wraps, raw items, shakes, smoothies and desserts baked in-house. 2965 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill. (619) 550-1818.

The Forbidden Rice Bowl at Flower Child, a healthy food restaurant in Del Mar that serves many vegan and vegetarian options.
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Flower Child, Del Mar

This fast-casual healthy-foods restaurant opened in late 2016 at the Flower Hill Promenade. Flower Child has 19 vegan options on its menu, including its top-selling avocado hummus, Mother Earth ancient grains bowl, vegan poke, Forbidden Rice, spicy tofu Thai dish and Indian-spiced cauliflower. Meat add-ons are available for most dishes. 2690 Via De La Valle, Del Mar. (858) 314-6818.

The tempura kale dish at Grains Cafe, a Thai vegan cafe in University Heights.
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Grains Cafe, University Heights

This Thai vegan cafe opened in March 2017 in the former Adams Avenue Grill location. Grains is known for its calamari mushrooms, Philly cheese sandwich, tom kah soup, tofu larb and more. 2201 Adams Ave., University Heights. (619) 269-5999.

The Neatloaf, a vegan meatloaf at Jyoti-Bihanga, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Normal Heights.
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Jyoti-Bihanga, Normal Heights

One of San Diego’s oldest and most affordable vegetarian/vegan restaurants, Jyoti-Bihanga recently celebrates its 30th anniversary in Normal Heights. It’s run by devotees of spiritual mater Sri Chinmoy. Its most-popular dish is the Neatloaf sandwich, a meatloaf alternative topped with red sauce and served with tofu-tamari spread on organic 9-grain bread, available in vegan and vegetarian options. Jyoti-Bihanga will be closed Aug. 15-31 for the staff’s annual meditation retreat. 3351 Adams Ave., San Diego. (619) 282-4116 or

Polynesian-style miso-glazed Seitan skewers at Kindred, a vegan restaurant and bar in South Park.
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Kindred, South Park

Owners describe this 2-year-old vegan cocktail lounge as a cross between a death metal bar (loud music, eye-popping art) and French gothic cathedral (peaked windows on roll-up garage-style doors). Menu specialties include seared cauliflower steak, beet risotto and cornmeal-crusted Gardein. Its banana bread French toast is also prized by weekend brunch diners. 1503 30th St., South Park. (619) 546-9653.

Eight-grain French toast at Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar, a vegan restaurant in Encinitas.
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Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar, Encinitas

This popular café near the Self Realization Fellowship offers vegan, vegetarian and meat/egg dishes, like the tasty turkey burger. Everything is made fresh in-house, including the hearty soups and chili, delicious vegan/gluten-free muffins and cupcakes. Try the Indian curry bowl, Ganesh’s veggie tacos or the Yogi Bliss sauteed tofu. 765 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas. (760) 479-1977.

Spring rolls at Loving Hut vegan restaurant, with locations in University Heights and Mira Mesa.
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Loving Hut, University Heights and Mira Mesa

Billed as the world’s largest vegan restaurant chain, Loving Hut has more than 200 locations, including 26 in the U.S. Each outlet, including two in San Diego, are given autonomy to choose their own menu items to suit local tastes, but the standard dishes always popular with American diners include the Cha Cha fried rice, Lucky Lemongrass, Beyond Wild West BBQ burger and Heavenly salad. 1905 El Cajon Blvd., University Heights. 9928 Mira Mesa Blvd., Mira Mesa.

A vegan California burrito at Native Foods Cafe, with locations in Encinitas and Clairemont.
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Native Foods Cafe, multiple locations

Another fast-casual vegan chain, this one, out of Chicago, has three San Diego County outlets. The menu offers a mix of soup, salads, burgers, wraps, sandwiches, tacos and bowls. 127 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas. 5604 Balboa Ave., Clairemont. 3369 Rosecrans St., Midway.

The interior of newly opened OB Garden Café, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Ocean Beach.
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OB Garden Café, Ocean Beach

From the operators of the Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market comes this new two-story indoor/outdoor restaurant/pub with a vegetarian/vegan menu, wine and beer, and Sunday morning yoga classes on the roof deck. Specialties of the house, which opened in March, include a BBQ jackfruit bowl, black bean and quinoa burger, vegan pot pie, Portobello tacos and veggie noodle dishes. There are also smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, breakfast dishes and coffee drinks. 4741 Voltaire St., Ocean Beach. (619) 255-1193.

A veggie bowl at at Oh! Juice Cafe, an all-organic vegan cafe and juice bar in Encinitas.
(Oh! Juice Cafe)

OH! Juice Cafe, Encinitas

Opened last November by nutritionist Hanna Gregor and investor Doug Kimmelman, OH! Juice (the OH is short for Organic Health) serves only organic vegan food sourced from San Diego farms and bakeries, including acai and grain bowls, toasts, smoothies and salads. The cafe also sells take-out food items and the company’s signature raw cold-pressed superfood juices, which are bottled at its 3-year-old headquarters in Carlsbad. 90 N. Coast Highway 101, Suite 212, Encinitas. (619) 908-1150 or

Chocolate-covered strawberry cheesecake at Peace Pies, a vegan restaurant with locations in Ocean Beach and Encinitas.
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Peace Pies, Ocean Beach and Encinitas

It’s hard to feel better about your food than at Peace Pies, which sells raw, vegan, organic, gluten- and soy-free foods and practices a zero-waste policy. Diners swear by the Mystical Mushroom Quesadilla, Bliss burger and Magical Mango curry wrap. Save room for a slice of its pies, including the Cosmic Coconut Cream. 4230 Voltaire St., Ocean Beach. 133 Daphne St., Encinitas.

A vegan Filet-o-Fishless sandwich at Plant Power Fast Food, a new vegan quick-service restaurant company with locations in Ocean Beach and Encinitas.
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Plant Power Fast Food, Ocean Beach and Encinitas

From Zach Vouga and Mitch Wallis (who cofounded Hillcrest’s Evolution Fast Food with Rich Robinson in 2009), these quick-service eateries offer a plant-based alternative to traditional fast food. Eight “burger” options are available, as well as wraps, salads, tacos, breakfast sandwiches, smoothies and sweets. 2204 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., Ocean Beach. 411 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas.

Lettuce wraps at Plumeria, a vegan Thai restaurant in University Heights.
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Plumeria, University Heights

Though billed as a vegetarian Thai restaurant, almost all of the dishes at this popular University Heights eatery are also vegan. Standouts include the drunken noodles, mock duck larb and the flower cups, a mix of tofu, veggies and seasonings in petite flower-shaped crispy wonton cups. 4661 Park Blvd., University Heights. (619) 269-9989.

Sattvik Cafe, Miramar Road

This quick-service cafe, market and catering company serves an all-vegetarian/vegan menu of dishes from India and Africa. Items include samosas, veggie korma, dudhi chana, kachori, badas, kabobs and more. Call for hours. 8650 Miramar Road, San Diego. (858) 568-1306.

Avocado toast at Second Nature, a mostly vegan cafe that opened this year in Pacific Beach.
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Second Nature, Pacific Beach

This gourmet coffee bar and mostly vegan cafe opened in February in the former Turquoise Coffee space in P.B. Menu specialties include the “Gardein” chicken sandwich, roasted cauliflower, Thai curry quinoa bowl, poke bowls and flatbreads. Grass-fed beef and fresh seafood is available. 5026 Cass St., Pacific Beach. (858) 247-5236.

Soulshine, Mission Beach

This gluten-free organic vegan bakery and cafe opened in March on Mission Bay. The menu offers a fusion menu of tapas, salads, pizza, burger, bowls, soup of the day, and desserts. Serves coffee, tea and kombucha. Brunch on weekends. 3864 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach. (858) 886-7252.

The Veggie Bowl at Trilogy Sanctuary, a rooftop vegan restaurant and juice bar in La Jolla.
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Trilogy Sanctuary, La Jolla

This downtown La Jolla yoga studio has a rooftop vegan restaurant and juice bar. Options include smoothies, acai bowls, veggie nachos, “meatball” sliders, burgers, pasta, desserts and breakfast items. 7650 Girard Ave., Suite 400, La Jolla. (858) 633-3893.

Mango with sweet sticky rice at Veganic Thai Cafe, a vegan restaurant in Hillcrest.
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Veganic Thai Cafe, Hillcrest

This 2-year-old Thai restaurant in Hillcrest has earned raves for its authentic Thai recipes that skip the eggs but include all the other traditional flavors. Favorite dishes include the drunken noodles, pad Thai, curries, spring rolls, mock duck and tom ka soup. 1417A University Ave., Hillcrest. (619) 230-5540.

Kung Fu Fries at Veggie Grill, a fast-casual vegan restaurant chain with locations in Carlsbad and La Jolla.
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The Veggie Grill, Carlsbad and La Jolla

This L.A.-based vegan fast-casual chain has two shopping center locations in San Diego County. The chain’s top-selling dishes include the VG Beyond burger, Sonoran bowl and Mediterranean supergreens salad. 4354 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite H28, La Jolla. 965 Palomar Airport Road, Suite 100, Carlsbad. Twitter: @pamkragen