Answers from Our Experts (3)
It’s possible for vegetarians to find a satisfying meal virtually anywhere in the city. But San Francisco also has a history of restaurants like chef Annie Somerville’s Greens that specialize in plant-based cuisine. Millennium in the Union Square area is regarded as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the country. It offers an expansive dining room, polished service and creative cuisine and cocktails. Gather in Berkeley is one of the leading examples of the flexitarian style of restaurants that serves everything from vegan to cuisine with naturally raised meats and seafood. Source in SoMa offers what they call a multidimensional dining experience with seasonal vegetarian and vegan fare like truffle bruschetta and brick-oven pizza to dosas and Peking quack. And while Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant Fleur de Lys is not a vegetarian destination, chef Hubert Keller was one of the first noted chefs to create sophisticated vegetarian dishes on par with the rest of his French-inspired menu. The creations on his seasonally changing vegetable feast still inspire.
When vegetarian friends visit me from out of town, I love to take them to the Plant Cafe Organic. It's a local chain with three restaurants in San Francisco (one in the Marina, another downtown, and a third on Pier 3) and one in Burlingame and another in Mill Valley. It's not a fancy place, so it's best for breakfast or lunch or a casual dinner. You order at the counter, get a number, and the food is delivered to your table. The Plant offers a variety of salads and sandwiches, as well as massive acai bowls, vegetable juices, and fruit smoothies, but the thing I always order is one of their amazing veggie burgers. The pattie is made from lentils, mushrooms, cashews, bulgur wheat, and beets, so it has a wonderful pink color, dense texture, and earthy flavor. Topped with white cheddar and avocado, it is the best veggie burger I've ever had!
Eating vegetarian has come a long way since iceberg lettuce and dessing on the side. Given San Francisco's love of a good meal, it's no surprsie that inventive chefs and restaurants are catering to the carrot crowd, offering varied menus with enough girth to please any type of diner.
But, for a Vegetarian ONLY outing, I personally love Greens, located at Fort Mason Center. Greens opened in 1979 and was a pioneer of fine vegetarian cooking in the United States. The views from the dining room are amazing (boats and Golden Gate), and chef Annie Somerrville sources the best seasonal ingredients to create magnificent dishes that will even prevent non-vegetarians from ever turning up their noses again.