The Vegetarian Guide to San Francisco
Being vegetarian in San Francisco is pretty great – there are SO many options. And you don’t have to worry about finding all-vegan or all-vegetarian spots (though there are plenty of those too). You will find tons of options in just about any restaurant! In the summer of 2018, I spent the most amazing two months in San Francisco, and took advantage of this time to explore the city’s vegetarian treats. As a former New Yorker, I will caveat that while San Francisco cannot compare to New York in terms of Italian food or the sheer diversity of cuisines, San Francisco has a far superior vegetarian, vegan and Mexican scene! I collaborated with Aleesha of Savored Spoon (a vegetarian living in San Francisco) to include some of her favorites in this list too! If you ever find yourself in the gorgeous city of San Francisco, I hope these vegetarian recommendations are helpful to you.
Here’s my guide to being vegetarian in San Francisco:
1. Shizen – all-vegan sushi bar | Neighborhood: Mission | $$$
Probably the best sushi I’ve ever had! This is popular even among meat-eaters! The wait here is crazy and you better get there right when it opens up (5pm might seem early for dinner, but do yourself a favour and get there latest by 6pm).
2. Gracias Madre – all-vegan Mexican | Neighborhood: Mission | $$
This was some seriously good Mexican food; I honestly didn’t think vegan Mexican food could taste so good! Aside from the usual tacos, I ordered a torta – a delicious Mexican sandwich made with ciabatta bread. I had never had one of these before, and it was just SO damn good! If you’re a vegetarian in San Francisco, this should be your first stop.
Other Mexican favorites: Papitos (in Hayes Valley and Potrero Hill), Tacolicious (all over the city)
3. Pink Onion – cozy, Italian spot | Neighborhood: Mission | $$
This warm and homey Italian restaurant serves up the best pizza I tried in San Francisco (and I’ve lived in New York, so my pizza standards are fairly high)! They have a delicious truffle pizza that you absolutely must order.
Other Italian favorites: Delarosa had some pretty good pizza (in Yerba Buena)
4. Nojo Ramen – the name says it all | Neighborhood: Hayes Valley | $$$
They’ve got some great vegan and vegetarian ramen bowls; keep in mind though that it’s definitely pricey ($25 for a bowl?!). But if you’re looking for good quality vegetarian ramen in San Francisco, this is it! Nojo is quite popular so you’ll definitely want to make a reservation!
5. Mazzat – great Middle Eastern food | Neighborhood: Hayes Valley | $$
I don’t think San Francisco has nailed super authentic Middle Eastern food yet (I’m allowed to give my judgment because I grew up in Dubai, okay!?!). But like me, if you often find yourself looking for Middle Eastern food no matter where you travel to, Mazzat is as good as it gets in San Francisco. They’ve got all the vegetarian mezze options you’d want, so it’s definitely a great spot for vegetarians in San Francisco.
6. Sheba Piano Lounge – Ethiopian cuisine | Neighborhood: Lower Pacific Heights | $$
They’ve got great live music, good drinks, and a large plate of food to share amongst friends. It’s the ideal spot for group dinners! I’m a sucker for Ethiopian food, so that’s another cuisine I’m always on the lookout for, no matter where I travel to. It’s also extremely vegetarian-friendly!
Again, I’ve definitely had better Ethiopian food in other cities but this is a really good option if you’re looking for something fun and different, and especially if you’re vegetarian in San Francisco!
7. Don Pistos – excellent boozy brunch | Neighborhood: North Beach | $
They have a fantastic boozy brunch option ($21 for 90 min of sangria, beer and mimosas), and some standard Mexican fare. Nothing fancy or exotic, but that’s what makes it great! It’s got a nice rustic ambience, and it hits the spot. This was definitely one of my most fun meals in San Francisco. If you’re not looking for a boozy meal, and just want some Mexican food, I think there are definitely much better options.
8. Souvla – Greek wraps, salads & fro-yo | Neighborhood: Hayes Valley | $$
They’ve got delicious Greek salads and vegetarian wraps, which you can choose to eat over there, or (if you’re at the Hayes Valley location) you can take your meal outdoors in the park right beside. You cannot leave without trying their most popular Greek frozen yogurts, which come with interesting (and delicious) toppings like baklava!
9. Salt and Straw – ice cream | Neighborhood: Hayes Valley, Japantown | $$
Recommended by Aleesha of Savored Spoon, and highly endorsed by me! The best ice cream in the world! Originally from Portland, this ice cream shop is constantly innovating with new flavors, textures and ingredients. The Strawberry Très Leches and Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies & Cream are Aleesha’s two favorites. They’ve also got a delicious Honey Lavendar, and very interesting Olive Oil that I loved. The lines can get long, but it’s worth the wait. As everything in SF, they have some vegan and eggless options too!
10. Pizzetta 211 – eclectic pizzeria | Neighborhood: Richmond | $$
Another one recommended by Aleesha of Savored Spoon, she says this quirky and cozy pizzeria is off the beaten path, but is a local favorite! Get the pine nut and rosemary pie, you won’t regret it. Also, get a pie each. After a bite, you won’t want to share!