Sometimes you get that nagging feeling that you shouldn't have pork belly or kouign-amanns at every meal — but don’t want to settle for raw vegetables and bland dressings. Luckily, San Francisco has one of the nation's top health-food scenes, from plant-based fast-casual spots to gluten-free concepts by the city’s most prominent chefs. Set your eight-ounce cheeseburger topped with whipped bone marrow to the side for these eight options, where the food is equally delicious and nutritious.
Seed + Salt
The gist: There is no meat or gluten or GMOs (or anything else that could mar a pristine diet) at this cheery Marina favorite for vitamin-packed meals. The neighborhood has a reputation as the yoga-juicing-spin epicenter of the Bay Area — and Seed + Salt is its healthy heart. Note that seating is limited, so most order to go.
Eat this: The knockout beet-and-grains burger; a BLT with eggplant bacon; quinoa falafel wrapped in collard greens; mixed-berry parfait super bowl; any cookie
2240 Chestnut St.; 415-872-9173
The gist: This bright Hayes Valley spot is a shopping and pre-theater draw because of both its prime location and winning Californian fare. It doesn't hurt that it's from Thomas Keller Group alumni, including chef Dave Cruz (the original chef at ad hoc). The vibe is low-key, with stellar people-watching ops on Gough Street. Previously all fast-casual, Little Gem is now fast-casual by day with table service at night.
Eat this: Rock shrimp tacos; chickpea-lentil stew; any salad with king salmon added; bibimbap
400 Grove St.; 415-914-0501
The gist: You’ve probably heard about the faux-tuna salad. Yes, it does look and taste like tuna — without the fishy taste from the canned variety, since it's seed- and nut-based — but that's only the beginning of an extensive menu of wholesome, plant-based foods at this cute Inner Richmond cafe with a Nob Hill sibling.
Eat this: Tuna salad; tofu banh mi; açai bowls; yam and cheese sandwich; any juice or smoothie (especially the Baker Beach banana chocolate)
189 6th Ave.; 415-571-8780
The gist: More of a tea cafe and organic juice bar, this serene, narrow venue (right by the 24th St.–Mission BART station) helps guests feel balanced and relaxed. In an area better known for burritos and pub grub, it’s a welcome alternative for lunch or a superfood smoothie pre- or post-workout.
Eat this: Sweet Potato Lover juice with turmeric; quinoa bowl with roasted vegetables; housemade granola bowl with seasonal fruits; housemade chai
3338 24th St.; 415-800-6546
The gist: Yes, it’s a national chain (there's also one in Palo Alto and another in Berkeley) — but without the cookie-cutter vibe. The FiDi branch draws worker bees with its fresh, customizable salads, seasonal ingredients (peach and goat cheese in summer) and nicely cooked proteins. The airy warehouse-meets-greenhouse space is a hip spot to see and be seen.
Eat this: Seasonal salad specials; pesto portobello bowl with quinoa and chicken; OMG Omega salad with steelhead trout, avocado and miso-sesame-ginger dressing
171 2nd St.; 415-855-7653
The gist: Some of the best single-meal salads in the city (plus a host of dips for smoked potato flatbread) come courtesy of Nic Balla and Cortney Burns (Bar Tartine). Their cooking style — Central European–leaning, some Japanese accents, lots of pickling and fermentation — is destination-worthy for its powerful flavors. The healthy focus is a bonus.
Eat this: Cobblestone chopped salad with chicken, avocado and sunflower tahini; lentil croquettes; chilled beet soup; cherry and fennel sorbet; kefir soda or a shrub to drink
983 Valencia St.; 415-484-1206
The gist: This now-iconic Greek destination for wraps and salads in Hayes Valley (with siblings in NoPa and the Mission) is beloved by locals and tourists partly because it stays healthy without trying too hard. Everything is clean, flavorful and filling without leaving you feeling greasy — if you bypass the Greek fries, that is. Even the frozen Greek yogurt has some health benefits, especially if topped with olive oil.
Eat this: Rotisserie chicken wrap; sweet potato salad (ask to top it with chicken or lamb); Greek yogurt with olive oil
517 Hayes St.; 415-400-5458
The gist: The immaculately shiny all-white interior hints at this Presidio Heights spot's focus on clean, refined eating. It's a draw for those with dietary restrictions, offering plenty of gluten-free options and veggie substitutions. This is the rare restaurant where a parent can enjoy a turmeric latte and a Chinese chicken salad while the kids nosh on sandwiches with almond butter, banana and honey.
Eat this: Avocado open-faced sandwich; any seasonal salad; taco salad with added chicken; turmeric latte; bone broth
3613 Sacramento St.; 415-914-0689