What are the best vegetarian restaurants in San Diego?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Julia Weiler

I love spending time in the chilled-out North County coastal town of Encinitas, and whether I’m there to surf the breaks or shop the boutiques I like to fuel up for my adventures at Native Foods Café.  The fast-casual vegan eatery has a vivacious vibe and an extensive menu of 100% plant-based appetizers, entrees, and desserts made fresh in house daily.  They also serve thirst-quenching drinks like lavender lemonade and watermelon fresca for a mere $2.50 each (refills gratis).

The vegan café is a popular place so there is usually a line at the counter, but it moves quickly and gives me some time to contemplate my order.  The menu has much to peruse and is conveniently broken up into categories such as starters, salads, chef’s favorites, earth bowls, and handholds, which range in price from $2.95 to $9.95 each.  Orders are placed and paid for at the fast and friendly counter, drinks are served right away, and food is delivered tableside within the restaurant or outside on the sunny patio.

Although I haven’t tried everything on the menu yet, I do have a few favorites such as the spicy-sweet Saigon Rolls, which combines braised lemongrass tofu, julienned carrots, pickled daikon, cucumber strips, fresh cilantro, and basil with brown rice and peanut sauce in a healthy whole-wheat wrap.  I also favor the hearty Caribbean Jerk Kale Salad made with seasoned tempeh intertwined with chopped mango, avocado, red pepper, and kale in a creamy jalapeño cilantro dressing topped by coconut and scallions.

I generally avoid the temptation of dessert, but when I do indulge I go for the rich layers of whipped peanut butter, homemade banana bread, and chocolate chips nestled together in the Peanut Butter Parfait.  The Carrot Cream Cheese Cupcake and Homemade Apple Pie are other great choices, and at only $2.95 per treat it’s hard to resist any of these dairy, cholesterol, and refined sugar-free delights.  They are light, delicious, and about as guilt-free as you can get when in comes to sweets.

I love the fuss-free service and the wallet-friendly prices, but perhaps the best thing about Native Foods Café is that the food makes me feel as good as it tastes.  I also have to admit that – while I’m an omnivore at heart – I really enjoy the knowledge that no animals are harmed in the making of my meal. 

Native Foods Café
127 North El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
11am- 10pm daily

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