I love vegetarian and vegan food. While I may not eat an entirely plant-based diet myself, I often eat entirely plant-based meals and quite enjoy them. As somebody who has my own issues with dietary restrictions while traveling, I also know how difficult it can sometimes be to find the kind of food you can eat (and that you want to eat!). Not to worry. California is an awesome place for people with dietary restrictions of all kinds, be it vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, etc.
That being said, I can’t write about all the amazing places to eat my state has to offer in one sitting…that would be a LOT of writing! So, I wanted to narrow it down to my home of Coastal North County San Diego. We’re talking Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, and the surrounding areas. We get a lot of tourists here, particularly in the summer. If you’re going to be visiting and either need to eat a plant-based diet or just want to try out something new, why not check out one of these vegetarian (and awesome) places?
This relatively new Encinitas establishment has quickly become a local favorite. They bill themselves as healthy vegan fast food, and they even have a drive through! It’s awesome to have an actually delicious, healthy fast food place in town. This place is perfect on my drives home from work some days where I want to pick up dinner but I don’t want to get out of my car (because I’m lazy). The cool thing about this place is that they also offer a lot of gluten free options as well. Any of their burgers and sandwiches can be ordered with a GF bun, and both the veggie patty and the black bean patty are gluten free. They also have an array of salads to choose from. The prices, while not overly expensive for the area, are certainly more expensive than your typical drive through, but then again you’re getting quality food with quality ingredients, so you’re definitely getting what you pay for.
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Lotus Cafe, while not a strictly Vegetarian establishment (they do serve some meat dishes), does have a lot of options on their menu for vegetarians, vegans, as well as people who need to eat gluten free. They serve a wide variety of foods and you can go there for all meals of the day…breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They even have awesome cupcakes for dessert (with both vegan and GF options). At this restaurant, you can get anything from an Acai bowl or a refreshing salad all the way to a vegan burger, vegan chili dog, stuffed potato, tamales, and so, so much more. This place is definitely a local favorite and a great place to bring somebody with food restrictions of any kind as they are very accommodating and all options are clearly marked on the menu.
Native Foods Cafe
Native Foods Cafe is a local vegetarian favorite. They have many locations, including three in San Diego County. The Encinitas location is their North County base. 100% vegan, this restaurant is a great place for those who want to eat plant-based as well as those who just want to try out something new. They also list their GF options, although those with severe allergies should know that the restaurant does have wheat so cross-contamination is a possibility. They have a wonderfully varied menu with everything from desserts to burgers, bowls, tacos, paella, “poke” bowl, and more.
This raw vegan cafe in Encinitas is a great place to try out pizzas, salads, pastas, tacos, wraps, desserts and more. All raw and vegan, of course.
Veggie Grill is 100% vegan and 100% awesome. Even if you’re not a vegan, this place serves up some seriously tasty meals and is a great place to go if you’re looking for something a little healthier for lunch or dinner. The prices are very reasonable, and you can eat things such as a buffalo chick’n sandwich, tasty salads, bahn-mi bowl, and more. Their menu is varied so you’ll be all set if you’re looking for either a hearty meal or a light snack. They are a chain and have a lot of locations in L.A. and Orange County, but there was much excitement when they expanded to Carlsbad. Definitely check this place out! (There’s also one in La Jolla).
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This dish is one of my personal favorites! The Fabulous Pho! It is a traditional #Vietnamese noodle soup: #Fresh rice noodle, non-GMO soy proteins, non-GMO tofu, onion, cilantro, olive oil, #homemade vegetable broth. Served with a side of fresh bean sprout, Thai basil, lime or lemon, Hoisin sauce and hot chili sauce. We hope you try it out at our 🎉GRAND OPENING🎉 (soon to be announced) #vegan #healthy #veganfoodshare #veganfood #peace #greeneating #green #crueltyfree #lovinghutusa #LovingHut #veganism #veganlife
Loving Hut is a worldwide chain of restaurants promoting vegan cuisine, and it’s pretty good, too! Each location has a different menu so depending on where you go, the food will be different. The Mira Mesa location is the closest to North County, so I wanted to include it on this list. Available items on their menu include salads, sandwiches, spring rolls, tons of Asian dishes, and desserts.
Locals, have another great vegetarian restaurant recommendation? Let’s hear it!