What’s the difference between vegetarian and vegan is a commonly asked question, according to PETA2, the animal rights activist organization. If you’re reading this, chances are obviously high that you know the answer. But, when it comes to dining out with others, they need to know that your dietary requirements absolutely do not mean any sacrifice on their part. The following restaurants cater not only to vegetarians who do not eat any animals, but also to vegans (strict vegetarian) who don’t eat dairy products, eggs or any other product derived from an animal.
580 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Heading up any list of top American vegan restaurants, Chef Eric Tucker has been earning accolades for two decades in this upscale dining room located at the Hotel California. Fans, followers, regulars and readers of “The Artful Vegan” and “The Millennium Cookbook” know that diners will never see the same menu twice, as it’s all about what’s fresh and organic at the market each morning. And, no GMO. Menus include seasonal three-, four- and five-course tastings paired with curated wines. Bottled water is gone, so guests are invited to sip the house carbon and UV filtered water served chilled or at room temperature, flat or sparkling.
1823 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94707
Vegan heaven since 2010. Co-owners Dr. Meyers and Mrs. Myers are an oncologist and a nutritionist who never thought a restaurant was in their future. But these two are now “on a mission of prevention – one meal at a time.” Everything is cooked at the in-house kitchen, everything is 100 percent vegan, non-GMO and everything is under $10. Having a well-developed children’s menu is integral to the mission of starting young to keep diets plant-based, eliminating toxic organic pollutants, hormones and antibiotics found in dairy and meat products.
2211 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Vegan Mexican food isn’t found in very many places, but it should be. Taco-loving vegans might go for butternut squash, a winner on the “100 Things You Want to Eat in SF Before You Die” list published by 7X7 magazine. If you disagree, try mushroom, spinach and platanos with a side of the tasty re-fried black beans. Come in the mood for a wait to be seated at a communal table and save room for dessert. Note that Gracias Madre opened another location in January in LA.
762 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
The restaurant’s own description, “Vegan Japanese food inspired by Zen cooking” is the best way to translate the menu. What to know before you go is that interiors are plain; it’s not about the décor. Highlights from the vegan menu include soba sushi, non-egg battered tempura, dengaku and the vegetarian curry udon. Chances are that you won’t find a better tasting miso soup anywhere. Remember, it’s cash only (with an ATM inside if you forget.)
Hella Vegan Eats
Voted best pop-up restaurant 2014 by SF Weekly, this food truck moves around from farmers’ markets to street festivals to catered events. Tiffany and Sylvee’s Facebook page is the best place to find out where it’ll be next. A graduate of non-profit La Cocina’s incubator commercial kitchen program, the growing fan base finds this truck anywhere from Dolores Park to Dear Mom to Heart of the City Farmers Market at Civic Center to Virgil’s Sea Room. Never too serious and always festive, Hella Vegan Eats was awarded the “Vegan Junk Food” prize by SF Bay Guardian. Try it at the vegan coffeehouse, Timeless Coffee, at 4252 Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.
Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on Examiner.com.