This is the ultimate guide to vegan and vegetarian food and drink in San Diego! Sorted by cuisine type and restaurant style, read on for more than 40 of the best plant-based offerings in America’s Finest City including farmer’s markets, cafes, casual spots, special occasion destinations, and more.
How to Use this Restaurant Map: Toggle the top left corner to see the full list. Select the pin with the restaurant you’re interested in to see where it is.
I love living in San Diego for a number of reasons, most notably the weather, relaxed + friendly people, and access to wonderful beaches and hiking trails. It is often not considered a “food town,” though as the 8th largest city in the country there are a wide variety of delicious options.
This post details some of my favorite restaurants, bars, and snack-worthy food destinations. However, it is not exhaustive as that would be impossible (I chose to highlight one or two of my favorites per cuisine type).
If you’re visiting the area, be sure to try at least one! And if you’re familiar, comment with your favorite place if I missed it.
Table of Contents with Jump Links
San Diego Restaurants By Cuisine Type
Extended Restaurant Categories
San Diego Restaurants By Cuisine Type
4690 Convoy St #107, San Diego, CA 92111
Dish to get: Scallion pancake and crispy green beans
Convoy Street is one of the most popular Asian restaurant strips in the city, which is easy to tell when you walk into Spicy City and are surrounded by Mandarin speakers. While they are not know for their service, I’ve loved every dish I’ve tried here. If you are strictly vegan, be sure to ask about certain dishes prior to ordering to avoid pork/other meats.
Dish to get: Vegetarian combo platter
2884 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104
When I lived in the D.C. area Ethiopian options were plentiful (did you know that D.C. Metro has the highest number of Ethiopian immigrants in the country?). The front section of Awash is a shoppable market, and the one-room restaurant sits toward the back. It is very simple but delicious, with an excellent array of plant-based and meat options.
Dish to get: Classic Ramen with added Red Edition
2254 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
I had never visited a Japanese restaurant that was fully vegan until we went with some friends to Yasai; it’s become an instant favorite. My go-to order is the Classic Ramen with “Red addition,” meaning an extra seasoning of fermented spicy takano-tsume red hot chili pepper, garlic, red paprika, and soy bean sesame oil. The handcrafted noodles are the best part.
Dish to get: Zucchini taco
3028 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
When someone visiting asks to try Southern California tacos, this is where I take them. City Tacos actually has a few locations, including Encinitas, North Park, and Gaslamp. The Papa Con Rajas and classic Zucchini taco are my most-loved menu items. It is easily made fully vegan with a couple modifications.
Dish to get: Burrito con frijoles y arroz
20 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102
Right across the border from Mexico, you’d be hard pressed to find the “best” taco shop in San Diego. There are so many to choose from! I really like the vegetarian burrito from La Fachada. I enjoy their outdoor seating and relaxed vibe as well.
Dish to get: Vegan california burrito
947 E St, San Diego, CA, 92101
As the birthplace of the California burrito, San Diego holds a number of opinions about this popular item. Pokez serves fully vegetarian and vegan options so everyone can enjoy (their burrito is made with tofu filling).
Dish to get: Falafel plate
3012 Grape Street, San Diego, CA 92102
Right down the street from a dog park we frequent, Shawarma Guys was recently votes the #1 Place to Eat in the county by Yelp! The menu is full of Mediterranean classics and I of course gravitate toward the Falafel plate, which comes with four large falafel, yellow rice, hummus, and refreshing tabouli. The servings are generous and always last me a few days.
Dish(es) to get: rotating vegetarian small plates (vegan upon request)
1195 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Callie is definitely a “special occasion” place, with a more expensive tasting menu in a lovely atmosphere. The bar is available for walk ins though, and they have an excellent wine list and cocktail menu.
Dish to Get: Vegan sweet potato black bean couscous bowl
2850 El Cajon Blvd #4, San Diego, CA 92104
More “Moroccan-inspired,” than truly African, Medina mixes classic flavors with California staples. Dan and I often get their veggie-loaded couscous bowls for takeout and it always is the most satisfying (not heavy).
Dishes to get: pumpkin curry and mango sticky rice
4661 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116
Plumeria was introduced to us by some friends and we have gotten takeout many times since! Their menu features a wide variety of Thai dishes (curries, noodles, and more) all focused on fresh ingredients and completely plant-based. I always enjoy their pumpkin vegetable curry (spice level 6). The mango sticky rice is a perfect sweet treat to end the meal.
Dish to get: Thai curry noodles
Serving North Eastern Thai Cuisine, Sovereign’s menu is full of standout dishes. The waitstaff generously was able to ask the kitchen to omit fish sauce in the curry I ordered – the portions were substantial and very satisfying. Their menu also demarcates each vegetarian option.
Extended Restaurant Categories
Dish to get: Belgian waffles with strawberries
1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
I am slightly biased because we had my post-wedding brunch at the Del, but this menu is wonderful and the location is even better. I have found at other picturesque restaurants, the setting takes the place of actually delicious food. Situated right on Coronado Beach, The Del has a storied history and is definitely worth a trip when visiting the area.
Dish to get: homemade pasta
4161 Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92107
A bit more expensive, Centrolina has an extensive homemade pasta menu that allows you to completely customize your order. They have a fair amount of vegan options and a nice dessert menu! The decor is inspired by Capri and they have a lovely outdoor garden seating area.
Item to get: flavors change seasonally
3004 Juniper St, San Diego, CA 92104
Homemade ice cream gets incredibly creative at Mutual Friend. Flavor highlights include:
- Apple Pie, made with local pies from famous Julian, CA
- Spookies and Cream, part of the Halloween series
- Toasted Oats with Lemon Blackberry Jam
- Ginger Molasses Cookie, around the holidays
- “Happy Camper” in the spring, inspired by s’mores and infused with bourbon
- Fruit Loops, part of a series on 90’s breakfast flavors
Be sure to check out their Instagram for the latest flavor announcements.
Item to get: Classic Donut ($1)
106 Aberdeen Dr, Cardiff, CA 92007
Another North County inclusion, VG was another listing in a recent WSJ article about surf towns in the region. With prices starting at just $1/donut, the prices cannot be beat. My recommendation is the Classic Yeasted donut and Dan is a fan of Maple (not vegan).
Item to get: Strawberry Oat Crumble in a cone
4404 Park Blvd Ste B, San Diego, CA 92116
I love the creativity of Stella Jean’s flavors, and they rotate them seasonally so you can always try something new! I also really enjoyed the vegan/gluten-free Mango Sticky Rice sorbet. Dan prefers the purple ube.
Dishes to get: Little Gem Salad and Vegan Grilled Cheese with Apples
1503 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102
Bar Kindred is also entirely vegan, but you’d never know it given the diversity of menu offerings and the creative cocktails presented. Last time I went with a friend we ordered the Power Salad and Seitan BBQ Wraps. We both agreed it was some of the freshest, most delicious food we had eaten out in a while.
Dish to get: Four Horsemen pizza
2949 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Donna Jean has an upscale vegan friendly brunch and serves dinner in a cute garden setting. It has a huge variety of options and their sourdough crust pizzas never disappoint. We get takeout sometimes as well and it holds up perfectly! Of every place on this list, Donna Jean gets my vote for best all around vegan dinner in the city.
Dish to get: Any vegetable main (rotate seasonally)
2725 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
If you’re in the mood to drive north a bit, Campfire is located in the adorable seaside town of Carlsbad. Their reservations fill up quickly; they share a chef of Jeune et Jolie, a Michelin-starred French restaurant right down the street. Campfire itself has been recognized as a Bib Gourmand establishment; everything on the menu is meant to remind you of “camp” – lots of grilled, charred flavors. The highlight for us was definitely being able to roast our own s’mores – right at our table! They also of course serve meats but take a great deal of time considering vegetarian options. 10/10.
Dish to get: Pre-fix menu with vegetarian options
2659 State St. Carlsbad, CA 92008
As the only Michelin-starred restaurant on this list, Jeune et Jolie is definitely an “occassion” restaurant. Nevertheless, the overall feeling is very California-casual – no stuffy attitudes or intimidating waitstaff. Just high-quality service, a beautiful atmosphere, and a very inventive menu full of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
You can easily find a farmers market on any day of the week in San Diego – they run year-round! Expect to find a large selection of farm-grown produce with many artisanal bakers and makers. A number of food trucks and made-to-order vendors show up as well, making it the perfect place to grab breakfast or lunch to go.
The few I frequent most are:
Little Italy Mercato (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
600 W Date St, San Diego, CA 92101
Hillcrest Farmers Market (Sundays)
3960 Normal St #3960, San Diego, CA 92103
Pacific Beach Farmer’s Market (Tuesdays)
901 Hornblend St, San Diego, CA 92109
Great for Lunch
Dish to get: Call ahead for High Tea or just order the chickpea pancakes
7644 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037
Situated in La Jolla Village, Green Door is run by the ever-active Chef Martin. He is a personable owner with a British accent and taste for experimenting on the ever-evolving vegan menu. If you have time I recommend calling ahead for a High Tea service which comes with a variety of decadent finger sandwiches and small plates to enjoy. If you can’t make tea, the chickpea pancake or Bombay Burger are both delicious options (especially when paired with house-made ginger beer).
Dishes to get: Brown butter waffles or protein power wrap with local ginger Mighty Booch Kombucha
106 S Sierra Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075
If you venture into North County, I strongly recommend stopping in the market of Homestead in Solana Beach. Recently featured in the Wall Street Journal, it is modeled after a traditional deli but offers a diverse menu of vegan and non-vegan sandwiches, salads, local gelato, and more. I need to restrain myself when walking in the market as it’s stocked with brands like Rancho Gordo and New York Shuk!
Item to get: The Vegan bagel sandwich
1948 Broadway San Diego, CA 92102
Influx has a few locations around the area but Golden Hill is my favorite. The staff is very friendly and it has a real “neighborhood” feel where you can tell most people that visit are regulars. They’re only open until 2:00 PM so be sure to grab an organic coffee in the morning or a bagel sandwich and salad for lunch.
Item to get: Kouignn-amann or sourdough loaf
5525 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037
Wayfarer gets my vote for the best sourdough in San Diego (I am very picky about this). Be sure to pre order to skip the very long weekend line. I have yet to try their pizzas but those also look incredible.
Item to get: Vegan Champagne and Berries donut or Baklava donut (if they have it!)
3102 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
Nomad has a wide variety of vegan and nonvegan donut flavors, incredibly inventive and made fresh every morning. Apple Crisp was another favorite I tried, along with Gin & Lavender.
Item to get: Sourdough scone (rotating flavors)
2215 30th St, San Diego, CA, 92101
An offshoot from The Rose, Secret Sister had an adorable walk-up counter in South Park serving fresh-from-the-oven scones, sticky buns, sourdough breads, and more. We love going early and grabbing a table on the sidewalk.
Donna Jean (mentioned above) has the best vegan pizza in San Diego. The below options are vegetarian.
Dish to get: Whitestone or pesto slice
111 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103
Bronx is one of the highest-regarded pizza places in the area. You can order individual pieces at the counter or call in for a full pie. The slices are very large so I am normally full after eating two.
Dish to get: any pizza (I love the Marisa, with pesto and pine nuts)
3001 Beech Street, San Diego, CA 92102
With a few locations, this friendly restaurant has a true “neighborhood” vibe that welcomes you with homemade pastas, refreshing beverages, and wonderful pizza options.
Dish to get: Uncle Jesse pizza with added pesto
3603 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Their mission is based around kindness and generosity towards others (it was founded in memory of the older sister of the owner). The Uncle Jesse is my go-to slice that has olive oil, ricotta, mozzarella, and fresh basil.
Breweries (San Diego is well-known for craft beer)
2215 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
The national brand is based here and their production center in Mira Mesa has a fun outdoor patio.
2252 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
A bit on the experimental side, Bottle Craft has very creative, high-alcohol craft beers and is located right in Little Italy.
170 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
Right on the island, Coronado Brewing is well regarded in the area for craft beers.
2953 Beech St, San Diego, CA 92102
The South Park tasting room has a very relaxed atmosphere that fits right into the neighborhood. Their chickpea burger is surprisingly filling and I often get their Blackberry Cobbler Sour (!) to drink. Dan loves their IPAs, all locally brewed.
8101 Commercial St, La Mesa, CA 91942
Friends introduced us to this place in La Mesa which is known for its sour beer flights, which I enjoy!
2816 Historic Decatur Rd UNIT 116, San Diego, CA 92106
Stone has a great menu (with plant-based options) and a large seating area at the Liberty Station location.
Wine and Bars
Bar Kindred (outlined above)
Callie (outlined above)
453 Sixth Ave #7007, San Diego, CA 92101
This is my pick for the best rooftop bar in downtown/Gaslamp! They have a very spacious patio, fun cocktails, and a few fire pits. The appetizers menu is not great but you’re so close to restaurants it really doesn’t matter.
2130 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
Pali has flights of Central coast wines with a garden setting (live music).
2221 Fern St, San Diego, CA, 92104
I prefer their South Park location, which operates out of a mini van! They serve coffee from Sight Glass roasters (based in San Francisco) but also have a variety of unique drinks like a Blueberry Latte and an Espresso Mule. Frankly, their aesthetic is so great that I really didn’t think I’d like the coffee; I was pleasantly surprised.
3004 Juniper St, San Diego, CA, 92104
A sister company of Mutual Friend (outlined above), Dark Horse shares a space in South Park with my favorite ice cream store. They also roast their own beans and have multiple locations in SoCal (and one in Hawaii, interestingly enough).
97 North Highway 101, Encinitas, CA, 92024
With a few locations around San Diego, Lofty roasts their own beans and has a wide selection of single-origin, third wave roasts and unique drinks.
12045 Carmel Mountain Rd, Unit 302, San Diego, CA, 92128
Mostra won the US Roaster of the Year award back in 2019, which goes to show how committed they are to their work! They have a few locations around town and always popular with coffee fans.
111 Chesterfield Drive #115, Cardiff, CA, 92007
If you stop by VG for a donut up in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, walk around the corner for some coffee to pair! Zumbar is popular with the biking crowd (a rail trail runs all along the coast) and we love the laid-back vibe and excellent single-origin coffee selection.
I hope you enjoyed this round up of the best plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian restaurants in San Diego! I will continue adding to it to ensure it’s as up to date as possible.
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