There’s no doubt that the San Francisco Bay Area has a hold on Northern California’s vegan fare. Whether SoCal or NorCal have the best veggie options is a debate that will likely rage on forever- but what we can say for certain is that the Bay Area has some stellar vegan food. San Francisco has its fair share of vegan restaurants, but you might be surprised to learn just how vast vegan options are in the rest of the bay. Categorized by region, here are our top picks for the best vegan restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. And there are so many more to discover!
Given the city’s relationship to counter culture, progressivism and environmentalism, it’s no surprise that plant-based eating has taken off here. The ethnic diversity in San Francisco provides a unique opportunity for countless cuisines to come together in one place. From traditional American, to sushi and ramen, to Latin fusion, San Francisco has it all when it comes to vegan food. “Californian” cuisine makes up a large portion of these restaurants, and you’ll simply have to go and see for yourself what this genre of food means! Enjoy our top picks for vegan food in San Francisco!
We do not take these words lightly when we say that BAIA just might be the best vegan restaurant in the Bay Area. Everything about this place- from the ambiance, to the atmosphere, to the service, cocktails and food- is absolutely stellar. BAIA is on the pricey side, but if you’re craving a fine-dining experience, it is absolutely worth it. Our recommendation? Overflowing with tangy lemon ricotta between layers of creamy cheese, sauce and noodles, every bite is an out-of-this-world experience. The only issue is that like many upscale restaurants, some of the portion sizes are rather conservative. The lasagna is worth an order, but sadly, falls into that category of smaller servings. Our advice is to go with a friend and order both the lasagna and a pizza. The pizza portions are massive, and the taste won’t disappoint!
The Mission district’s Shizen boasts an incredible variety of vegan sushi and ramen. The chefs at Shizen believe that plant-based foods should stand on their own without the need to mimic animal protein. Tapioca, mountain yam, konjac, bean curd and more are used to carefully craft the artisan rolls that make up Shizen’s sushi menu. It’s difficult to pick a favorite, but we tried our best. The Secret Weapon roll is composed of marinated eryngii mushroom, avocado, spicy shredded tofu, pickled jalapeño, pickled pineapple, sweet shoyu, and habanero sauce. Enjoy with a warm bowl of Spicy Garlic Miso ramen, topped with all the goodies you can dream up (mushrooms, veggies, bamboo shoots, tempura).
Cuisine: Mexican fusion
Dhanistha Rivera and partner Luis Alfredo Flores are the masterminds behind Om Sabor. “A touch of our Mexican family roots inspired with other universal cuisines” is the driving force behind this Latin-fusion menu. With only three entrees, the appetizers are the claim to fame for this Hayes Valley eatery. We recommend dining with friends so you can try just about everything! Our favorites? Om Sabor has a unique take on clam chowder. Oyster and King Trumpet mushrooms replace the clam, and are complemented by Crimini Bacon, Celery, Potato, Carrot, Garlic Confit, Cashew Cream Bechamel, Parsley and Lemon, served with Crostini. Enjoy with Hibiscus flower tacos and mushroom escabeche tostadas.
Vegan breakfast menus can be hard to come by. That’s what makes Beach’n so special- this cute little restaurant specializes in all-day breakfast! Located in the Outer Sunset district, Beach’n is a bit out of the way for those in central San Francisco. But this eatery is well worth traveling for! From chorizo burritos to tofu scrambles, you can fulfill all your breakfast cravings here. Our favorite? You can never go wrong with French toast! Beach’n has veganized this classic American breakfast, complete with powdered sugar, maple syrup, fresh fruit, and a generous helping of vegan butter. Order with a Dirty Chai or a Salted Caramel Latte for a warm wakeup on a foggy San Francisco morning. The name isn’t misleading, either. Beach’n is just a single block’s walk from Ocean Beach. We recommend enjoying your hearty breakfast and ordering a piping hot coffee to go to help you brave the ocean breeze on your seaside walk.
Cuisine: Variety, Californian
It’s hard to place Wildseed into a particular genre, as this exquisite upscale restaurant really has it all. It’s rare you find curries, pastas, “chicken” sandwiches, and pizzas on the same menu; and all incredibly well executed! With brunch on the weekends, a wide assortment of creative cocktails, and desserts to die for, this restaurant is not to be missed. While Wildseed is a bit on the pricier side, it’s modest in comparison to many of San Francisco’s expensive restaurants. The average dinner entree will run you around $20. Wildseed also benefits local animal and human-related charities, so it’s a meal you can feel good about. Our personal pick? It’s hard to decide, but we’d have to go with the Neatball Masala, made with warm super grains, lentil and walnut neatballs, coconut masala, kale, pickled carrots, cilantro, and vegan tzatziki. The contrast between savory and tangy will absolutely blow you away. Enjoy!
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Asian
Looking for unpretentious, genuinely delicious vegan food in the city? Look no further! Golden Era, an inexpensive Vietnamese restaurant located in the Tenderloin, offers vegan eats that have stood the test of time. Golden Era has been around since 1999, far before plant-based eating began to trend in the United States. While their specialty lies in Vietnamese cuisine, Golden Era also offers meals derived from Thai, Chinese and Indian cooking. Their menu is expansive, so it’s easy to find a dish that suits everyone’s preferences. Our favorite is the Spicy Noodle Soup. This Central Vietnamese soup comes with tofu, soy protein, lemongrass, chili, bean sprouts, onion, cilantro, & fresh basil. It will warm your entire body- and comes with a kick! An honorary mention goes to the Vermicelli Noodles, complete with lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber, mint, cilantro, soy protein, seasoned tofu, fried eggless rolls, & peanuts. There’s something about that crispy “crunch” of egg rolls paired with soft vermicelli noodles! Enjoy this gem of a restaurant.
Cuisine: Californian, whole foods, healthy eating
Located in a humble little cafe in Nob Hill, Nourish is the perfect place to find food that simply makes your body feel good. A menu filled with grains, veggies, fruit, mushrooms, tofu, and delicious homemade sauces, this spot is reminiscent of what most vegan restaurants looked like before big box mock meats took off. Nourish focuses on whole, healthy foods- and does an incredible job of making them taste fantastic. In addition to an expansive food menu, Nourish also serves coffee and pastries. There is no shortage of goodness here! Our favorite? The Savory Brekkie Bowl lives up to the restaurant’s name, leaving your body feeling warm, full and nourished. Flavorful veggies, roasted mushrooms, and jasmine brown rice are brought together with a delicious, creamy red pepper almond dressing. You can opt to order this dish with JUST egg frittata or marinated tofu. In our opinion, the crispy, savory marinated tofu is the icing on the cake. Enjoy!
Located on bustling Valencia Street, Indochine vegan offers healthy eating and hearty portions at a humble price. Many traditional Korean dishes here have been reimagined as vegan versions. The menu is sprawlingly expansive, with salads, smoothies, soups, noodle dishes, traditional Korean entrees, and more. If you’re indecisive, you might be here a while! The cabbage, shiitake mushroom and ginger potstickers are a fantastic start to any meal. Follow with Eggplant Tofu or a delicious yellow curry. Enjoy!
It’s easy to assume that San Francisco must hold dominion over vegan food in the Bay Area. But the East Bay is a formidable competitor, if not surpassing San Francisco altogether. In our opinion, Oakland and Berkeley have some of the best vegan restaurants in the Bay. The East Bay’s diverse range of communities makes its food exactly that: diverse. From soul food to Singaporean food, you’ll find what you are looking for in the East Bay. It’s impossible to eat at all of the highly deserving restaurants here. But why not try?!
Oakland’s Souley Vegan is a place with food as rich as its incredible story. Seeing how successful the restaurant is today, it’s incredible to know that it was started on a total leap of faith by a single mother with $27 to her name. Chef and owner Tamearra Dyson was raised primarily meatless by her mother, and knew she had to share her Louisiana Creole-style cooking with the world. This black-owned, community-run soul food kitchen takes the crown for our favorite spot in Oakland. Our favorite? It’s hard to know where to begin! The seitan chicken-fried “steaks” with gravy and mash (pictured), served with sauteed onions and collard greens, are a home run. The Jalapeno pesto mac n’ cheese is almost too creamy to be true, served on a piping hot skillet. Souley Vegan doesn’t slack on the atmosphere, either. A live New Orleans Jazz/Blues band plays every Sunday. A full bar serves up cocktails, beer and wine. They also serve weekend brunch with $20 bottomless mimosas and menu items like chick’n and waffles, okra gumbo, and seitan “shrimp” n’ grits. Have we convinced you?!
Lion Dance Cafe
Cuisine: Singaporean, Chinese
“Authentic, not traditional” is Lion Dance Cafe’s fitting slogan. Founders Marie Chia and Shane Stanbridge have channeled their Singaporean roots to create something completely new. Lion Dance is just about one of the best local places to support as a community, being 100% queer and immigrant owned and run, rooted in sustainable practices, and donating a small portion of every meal to assist Oakland’s underprivileged communities. Minimal single-use items are used here, produce is sourced from local farms, and great effort is taken to combat food waste. Most takeout packaging is compostable. Having been takeout-only since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lion Dance Cafe only recently announced the return of sit-down dining. The time to support this incredible business is now. Our favorite? The Oyster mushroom Goreng, cooked with calamansi sambal and fried curry leaf. Absolutely delicious!
Cuisine: American, fast food style
“If you’re vegan, why would you want to eat something that tastes like meat?” “Why did you go vegan if you still want to eat meat?” “Vegans should be healthy and eat veggies!” Are you sick and tired of hearing phrases like this? It’s true that whole plant foods are healthier for our bodies. But in order to make a plant-based diet sustainable for you, sometimes you need to get a taste of your old non-vegan favorites. Thanks to places like Malibu’s Burgers, you can still feel like you’re having a “cheat day” without actually eating animals. Because vegans deserve to have fun, too! You can enjoy classic American-style favorites, like burgers, loaded fries, chick’n nuggets, and milkshakes. Our suggestion? We’re partial to breaded “chicken” style mock meats, so the Fight the Power is our favorite! This spicy buffalo burger comes on a toasted brioche bun. Wash it down with a strawberry milkshake!
Cuisine: Soul food, Barbecue fusion
Craving some hearty barbecue? Vegan Mob is some of the best in the East Bay. Founder Toriano Gordon comes from just across the bridge, San Francisco’s Filmore District. Gordon spent a great deal of his life helping at-risk and incarcerated youth in the city. The next stop in his life’s mission was to explore his passion of cooking. And he knocked it out of the park! What’s the best dish at Vegan Mob? We’d say the signature Mob Plate, of course. Customize this heaping plate with one protein and three sides. We highly suggest the spicy fried chicken with sides of Smackaroni (baked creamy mac n’ cheese), Southern Style Collard Greens, and Cajun Potato Salad. Still have room for dessert? Get yourself a fat slice of Peach Mobbler. You’ll thank us later!
Want to treat yourself to an upscale dining experience? Millennium has it all: the ambiance, the fine presentation, the tantalizing flavors. Executive chef Eric Tucker is an avid supporter of the local, sustainable agriculture movement as well as an instructor and chairing at CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service. The ingredients to this pumpkin curry (pictured) just might blow your mind: panko & rice crusted red kuri squash, sesame black rice cake, pumpkin coconut curry, seared gai lan snap peas, tofu & Chinese eggplant, bird’s eye chile sweet soy glaze, Thai basil, Asian pear & carrot salad, served with peanut sambal. Are you kidding me?! You might not even have room for dessert, but if you do, try the Bay Leaf Creme Brulee.
Taqueria La Veganza
Need a late-night bite to eat? Hidden inside the Emporium Arcade Bar next to the Fox Theatre is a treasure worth finding. Taqueria La Veganza prides itself in the most authentic vegan versions of Mexican cuisine as possible. Chef Raul Medina says part of his mission is to disrupt the disconnected vegan narrative of what “cruelty free” means. “As a culture we define (cruelty) as an attack on animals, but we forget the human suffering that goes to pick our vegetables, and process the world’s meat. We are born and bred to disrupt the current narrative around factory farmed meats, immigrant labor, and losing the connection to what your grandma cooked.” Medina grew up killing chickens in Mexico, and realized he just couldn’t do it anymore. In the U.S. Medina worked as an immigration attorney, and noticed a lack of genuinely authentic Mexican food in the vegan community. He changed his career and now experiments with vegan pop-ups in Oakland, Santa Ana and Los Angeles. The vegan carne asada tacos and the vegan pollo nachos will blow you away! You can also order vegan “meats”, tamales and other goodies in bulk from their website.
Tane Vegan Izakaya
Tane Vegan Izakaya has got to be one of the best vegan sushi restaurants on the planet. While skeptics might expect to find underwhelming items such as avocado and cucumber rolls, this is far from the case. Mushrooms, vegetables, fruit and flowers are creatively manipulated here to replicate your fish-based favorites; and blow you out of the water with completely original recipes. Tane also serves ramen and delectable shared plates. We highly recommend ordering the Pacifica and Manila Dune rolls for their complex flavor profile and unique textures!
The Butcher’s Son
Cuisine: Deli, sandwiches, mock meats, desserts
The Butcher’s Son is an order-at-the-counter vegan deli shop located right smack in the middle of downtown Berkeley. Stepping into this restaurant can be downright overwhelming. Melt-in-your-mouth vegan cheesecakes with flavors like blueberry lemon zest and apple spice, fresh-baked breads, and homemade sauces fill the air with an irresistible aroma. It might take you some time to pick from all of the incredible sandwich options The Butcher’s Son has to offer. So take your time, order for dine-in, and make your way out to the lovely back patio surrounded by rose bushes. We strongly recommend the Mozzarella cheese sticks as an appetizer, and the hot chicken pesto sandwich for your entree. These sandwiches go a long way and can easily be split by two people!
Cuisine: Mexican, casual, takeout
Flaco’s is truly a champion of accessible vegan eating. Their most expensive menu item is just $10! Located in an unassuming little building off of Adeline Street, Flaco’s makes some of the best vegan food in town. Mexican classics like pozole, huarache, taquitos, tacos and tamales are made with veggies and savory vegan meats. You’ll get a bang for your buck here, so be prepared to order large! We strongly recommend ordering a glass of horchata to wash down your flavorful and delicious meal.
North Bay Area
The North Bay, comprising the Northern tip of the Golden Gate Bridge spanning all the way through Sonoma County, arguably offers the Bay Area’s most dramatic landscapes and wild scenery. Surprisingly, and for reasons we don’t know, Marin County is rather lacking in fully vegan restaurants. But Sonoma County has a few memorable spots, and is continuing to grow in the plant-based market. Here are our favorite vegan restaurants in the North Bay.
Cuisine: New American
When we think of the “North Bay”, our minds don’t often venture past Marin County. But Sonoma County not only counts as part of the Bay Area family, it’s got vegan options that hold their own to Marin’s any day. A top competitor is Sebastopol’s Cozy Plum. With a truly cozy atmosphere and a menu that has it all, Cozy Plum is worth the drive to beautiful Sebastopol! We advise picking the Pesto Grilled Cheese, served on salty focaccia bread with melted vegan provolone and delectable house-made pesto. Is your mouth watering yet?!
Cuisine: Coffee, lounge, wine
Featuring creative takes on a variety of plant-based cuisine, Little Saint is a breath of fresh air to visit. Both a coffee lounge and a wine lounge can be found at Little Saint’s Healdsburg location. So whether you’re looking for a casual hangout spot with friends or a boujy wine tasting session, you are in the right place. Our recommendation? Order the Tofu Banh Mi for a hearty, savory meal, and wash it down with a nice glass of wine. You’re welcome!
Mas Veggies Vegan Taqueria
Looking for a vegan stop relatively close to San Francisco? As far as we know, Mas Veggies/Veggie Grill is the only vegan restaurant in Marin County. This new concept shares a building with Veggie Grill, but has an entirely separate menu. Mas Veggies makes for great casual dine-in or takeout. The menu is highly customizable and 100% vegan. We recommend the nachos and the “fish” tacos. It’s conveniently located right off Highway 101 in Corte Madera- grab some food to go and head up to Mount Tamalpais for a beautiful sunset.
Disclaimer: Ambrosia is not a fully vegan restaurant. But given that the North Bay doesn’t have the most extensive list of vegan businesses, we thought we’d give this actively vegan-friendly business a shoutout. This Petaluma restaurant offers Indian fare in a fun, vibrant atmosphere. An entire dedicated vegan menu makes Ambrosia a friend to vegans everywhere. We are suckers for Chana Masala, so we highly recommend that dish alongside the coconut curry vegetables. Enjoy!
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!