Every summer, around one million visitors flock to Washington State’s San Juan Islands. 172 islands make up the San Juan archipelago, with the most popular and accessible islands being Orcas, Lopez, and of course, San Juan. There’s a good reason for the mass influx of people every year. Foxes, deer, bobcats, bald eagles and other majestic birds of prey grace this beautiful, forested island. A huge lavender farm wafts the most entrancing scent for miles.
Whale watching and sea plane tours are immensely popular, offering the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spot the iconic Orca, as well as many other cetaceans who call these waters home. For many animal advocates, seeing wild orcas in these waters holds a special significance. Why? Many orcas in the 70’s and 80’s were stolen from these waters, including world-renowned Tokitae or “Lolita”, deemed the “saddest whale alive”. Activists have rallied against the Miami Seaquarium for decades for holding Tokitae in an illegally small tank, and now, she’s set to return to the waters she once called home.
The whales alone draw in a great deal of conservationists, cetacean advocates, and nature lovers- a group that strongly overlaps in values with vegans and vegetarians. So what are the vegan options on San Juan Island like?
Despite being a remote island only accessible by ferry, San Juan Island is well aware of the market for vegan eats. There are limited amenities here, but there’s still one fantastic vegan restaurant and plentiful vegan options on San Juan Island.
Here are our top vegan options on San Juan Island!
Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar
Cuisine: wine, pizza, tacos, whole food bowls
Located a stone’s throw from The Whale Museum in downtown Friday Harbor, Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar is San Juan Island’s fully vegan restaurant. This cozy and chic establishment features a wine tasting bar and a sunny outdoor patio to enjoy some delicious food. Our recommendation? The Mushroom Pesto Pizza is simply to die for. Start with an appetizer of Shishito peppers, order a pizza for the table, and enjoy alongside a nice glass of red wine. What a perfect way to warm the body after a chilly day out whale watching on freezing waters!
The best vegan-friendly restaurants on San Juan Island
These restaurants may not be 100% vegan, but they’ve made a great deal of effort to create menus that cater to a vegan diet. By sharing and promoting the best vegan options on San Juan Island, we hope to inspire these small businesses to continue to expand their vegan menus. These non-vegan restaurants are major contributors to creating plentiful vegan options on San Juan Island.
When plant-based options are slim and you’re backed into a corner…Thai food always seems to come to the rescue. Luckily, San Juan Island’s Friday Harbor has its very own Thai restaurant. Golden Triangle boasts delicious tofu fresh rolls, tasty cashew nut, and veganizeable curries, noodle dishes, and more. Most dishes can be veganized with the simple ask to exclude eggs and swap meat for fried tofu or extra veggies. Enjoy!
Cuisine: breakfast, whole foods, American
Despite having a pretty small menu, Cynthia’s has a few great vegan options. For breakfast, the tasty sweet potato and greens dish includes the option to add eggs or tofu to create a delicious scramble. Order this option with tofu, and if you’re really feeling boujee, add avocado as well. Top with hot sauce or salsa and you’re styling! For lunch, Cynthia’s has a Mediterranean Bowl and a Peanut Sauce Rice Bowl which are both fully veganizeable with the addition of tofu. Enjoy!
Hermosa Mexican Kitchen & Bar
Cuisine: Mexican food, cocktails
With rice, beans and fajita veggies being staples, Mexican food is typically pretty easy to find vegan options. But Hermosa goes out of their way to include extra vegan items. A “choose your own protein” style eatery, Hermosa offers burritos, tacos, enchiladas and more, with marinated tofu and fajita veggies both serving as protein options. Our recommendation is to keep it simple with tofu and veggie street tacos- yum! Enjoy with a margarita and a fresh bowl of chips and guac.
Salty Fox Coffee
Cuisine: Coffee, breakfast, bowls
Salty Fox Coffee doesn’t just serve coffee with plenty of non-dairy milks, they also serve vegan food options. Acai Bowls and bagels are the perfect vegan breakfast options to go with your coffee. And for lunch, the Portobello Broccoli Bowl featuring vegan aioli and portobello “steak” bites is just fantastic. Salty Fox is conveniently located just steps off the ferry and seaplane dock as you arrive on San Juan Island. Walk up Granny’s Way from Front Street, and you can’t miss it! We recommend grabbing an oat milk latte and an Acai bowl for the road to fuel your adventures on the island. Enjoy!
Rolling Sushi offers excellent vegan sushi options on San Juan Island. This Friday Harbor restaurant is constantly rotating their sushi menu, with new vegan and vegetarian options always available. Servers are highly accommodating and want to help you veganize the dishes here. Our personal favorite? The Mango Surprise Roll is totally vegan and includes mango, avocado, cucumber, red pepper, carrot, and crunchy onions- rolled with Nori on the outside.
Chelsea Pinkham is a long-time animal advocate, rescuer, and humane education writer. Chelsea studied Communications & Journalism with a minor in Environmental Science at Sonoma State University. She has been vegan for thirteen years, since she discovered the treatment of animals on farms in middle school. Outside of Vegan Unlocked, she works for a nonprofit farmed animal sanctuary, authors humane education children’s books, and has personally rescued, fostered and transported over 1,000 animals. She enjoys camping, hiking, learning about animal behavior, and traveling the world on a low budget!