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Top 12 Ways to Eat Vegan in San Diego 2016

Great Food that you can make Vegan by asking for it, at The Flower Hill Mall

Great Food that you can make Vegan by asking for it, at The Flower Hill Mall

Today I want to share with you the Top 12 Ways to Eat Vegan in San Diego 2016. I put the year because you never know what will hold up over time. The restaurant business is tough. Some go in. Some go out. 

There are so many choices open to you at any and every restaurant. Check the side dishes. Get things steamed. Experiment with food from India. You can go into any restaurant and ask what’s vegan on the menu. And also check out grocery stores like Jimbo’s. Whole Foods, Sprouts and the recently opened Lazy Acres on Encinitas Blvd. I first discovered them in Santa Barbara. They have great vegan chili most days on their 3 ‘salad’ bars or food bars and I am sorry to say the best vegan donuts I have ever tasted. It’s all I can do to not buy one, two or three every time I go in there. Bad.

It’s not difficult for me to follow a plant based lifestyle. I find it amusing when friends say “oh, she can’t eat that or there because she’s vegan” to which I reply “I can eat anything I want to…. I just don’t choose to eat what you eat”. And that’s true. 

I don’t feel locked into anything. I don’t feel denied. I make a bangin’ good pizza at home with vegan cheese and it’s amazing. Thin hard crust. Crumbled Field Roast (tastes like sausage) and onions for a topping and I’m totally addicted! lol And I make my own plate by ordering 3 different items and combining them on my plate (always a chef)! Onto our talk about reviews …..

Usually if I have nothing nice to say, I say nothing. But this year, I will offer my opinion about only 3 places in San Diego that did disappoint:

  1. Naked Cafe, Encinitas (because I expect them to be using organic produce and it is not all organic)
  2. Soltan Banoo, University Heights because every dish tastes the same or similar (not changing up their flavor profiles)
  3. Southern Fried Vegan Food Truck – Hot shots from Los Angeles offering food that looks like our favorites (like mac n cheese or fried chicken) when it’s actually tasteless food, or food with less flavor at top pricing

Now that I have clued you in to what to avoid and why, let’s get on with my favorite places to go to. And I want to say that I did not include Lotus Cafe in Encinitas to this list, because it’s pretty much a standard for vegan and non vegan alike, and does not require my opinion.

And I do want to say that you can eat vegan at almost every restaurant. You just have to pick things you like and ask questions. For example: before I was vegan I went to Snooze for breakfast in the Cineopolis Mall (Del Mar) and enjoyed Eggs Benedict. Now I go and get their vegan choices which includes their wonderful potatoes (which you should order like a local and get them smashed down) and at the end of the meal, I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything!

In this space and time, these concepts and restaurants get my vote of confidence:

True Food located in Fashion Valley is my all time favorite place to go. They put so much thought, care and love in their menu, that it’s hard not to like what they offer. Of course, it helps that Dr. Andrew Weil is a partner in the restaurant and I’m sure is advising them for menu choices.

Evolution Fast Food – the internet says Banker’s Hill, but I was thinking it’s just outside Hillcrest. Bean Burgers and Fries done right. It has a drive thru window, or you can sit in their interior garden on a nice day. Worth the trip!

Flower Child just opened in the Flower Hill Mall in Del Mar. Outstanding! Just like Urban Plates, but less expensive.

Seasons 52 UTC Mall won’t offer a vegan menu, unless you ask for it. And while it may be slim pickin’s (I think there were two entrée choices) they always do a really good job on presentation and flavor.

Il Fornaio is in the Del Mar Plaza Mall. OMG. You can go to any Italian Restaurant and order Pasta Pomodoro, and it’s a great vegan dinner. At Il Fornaio, I order it with extra veggies (asparagus, mushrooms and onions) for an extra $3.00. One more ‘heads up’…. their bread is made with milk. Yet their pasta dough is just fine. I went with someone who ordered a pizza and enjoyed their ‘end’ pieces (tomato sauce and dough) as my bread. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! 

Veggie Grill UTC Mall. OMG. This is an absolute favorite when I want to junk out. I order their version of a BLT…. (with avocado) and fries. Sinful.

Cafe Gratitude, Little Italy is the sister restaurant of Gracias Madre on Melrose in Los Angeles. Gracias Madre is expensive but it’s one of my all time favorite Vegan Restaurants on the planet. So if you’re headed up to LA…. don’t miss the visit. Cafe Gratitude has a great name. Unfortunately, the choices are hit or miss. If I had not eaten at Gracias Madre I would think this is another good choice in San Diego. I will give it points for ambience and their indoor/outdoor dining.

Harney Sushi in Old Town really sets the standard for Sushi. But whether you visit them in Old Town or Oceanside, whether you visit this Sushi Bar or another (like Sushi House in Encinitas), there are some simple things you can order up and still enjoy your vegan meal. My standards are: Ginger Salad, Miso Soup (always ask that they aren’t incorporating chicken stock), and then ask what vegetables they have on hand and have them make you a roll. My favorite to create is cucumber and asparagus in a small size roll, topped with avocado. Yum!

Plumeria Vegetarian is in University Heights. It has a good vibe, great staff and very good food.

Urban Pi, Del Mar Chef Jen who is actually the Executive Chef for all the Urban Plates locations as well, creating wonderful vegan choices.

Urban Plates is in La Jolla, Del Mar and a few other locations. They are doing blow out baby kale and beet salads, with butternut squash soup. They even have a vegan dessert available, along with Kombucha.

Eve is in Encinitas on PCH. While the price for the portion is ridiculous (small), the quality of the food you are eating is very good. The Legendary Hero Bowl is nice, and Machu Picchu with different flavor profiles on one plate is amazing. Good neighborhood atmosphere!

If you have any additional places you like, or ideas on how to create in a restaurant, please write me.

Otherwise, feel free to re-post this everywhere!

Happy Healthy Eating,

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