Best Restaurants for Vegetarians in San Francisco

March 27, 2018
by Zagat Staff

Consider this our stand against sub-par veggie burgers. From noodles to actually-filling salads, here are 22 meat-free options actually worth your time.

Greens Restaurant
Vegetarian · Marina District · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.3

"You can taste the Zen" marvel fans of this Marina "vegetarian institution" that transforms "fresh-from-the-garden" organic produce (some from its own Green Gulch Farm) into "outrageously good" , elegantly plated meals that even "satisfy the pickiest meat eaters" ; an "innovative" wine list and "friendly" service in a "serene" setting with "polished wood" and "magnificent" "views overlooking the Golden Gate" seal its status a "consistent winner."
Udupi Palace
Indian · The Mission · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.3 · Service 3.9

"Even carnivores love" the vegetarian fare at these "authentic" South Indians serving "huge, spicy uttapams" , "dosas packed with flavor" and other "delicious dishes" ; "don't be fooled" by the shabby exteriors, as there's "fast" , "cheerful" service, a "family-friendly" environment and "unbeatable quality for the price."
Japanese · The Mission · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.6 · Service 3.9

An "absence of pretension and meat" defines these vegan Japanese spots where the "unusual" food is "expertly prepared" and "surprisingly filling" ; though the "decor leaves a lot to be desired" and a few find the dining "a bit bland" , it's "popular with a young crowd" thanks to "reasonable prices."
Burma Superstar
Burmese · Inner Richmond · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

The "exotic flavors of Burma" are showcased at this "destination" chainlet where the seemingly "flown-in-from-Rangoon" offerings are both "flavorful" and "inexpensive" (the "sublime" tea-leaf salad is a "must-order" item); given its "ridiculously popular" status, expect "ever-present" lines, but those who "believe the hype" are willing to "endure the wait."
Burma Love
Burmese · The Mission · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.2

Burma Superstar’s "hip" Mission outpost is likewise "a winner" , offering a "reasonably priced" lineup of the original’s "terrific" Burmese dishes (the "earthy" tea leaf salad is a "must-have" ) plus seafood-focused specialties; staffed by a "gracious" team, the Myanmar-mod space is often "busy" and "noisy" but "enjoyable nonetheless."
Firefly Restaurant
American · Noe Valley · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.2

Since 1993, this Noe Valley "favorite" via chef Brad Levy has been luring locals with "honest" , "delicious" Americana, including "perfect" fried chicken plus "seasonal" vegetarian and gluten-free offerings; a "low-lit" , "unpretentious" setting, "cordial" service and "reasonable" tabs make it an "amazing" date-night option.
Pazzia Restaurant
Italian · SoMa · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.4

The thin-crust pizzas, homemade pastas and other "simple" Northern Italian dishes are "always on the mark" at this SoMa trattoria, a "go-to" neighborhood spot near the convention center for down-to-earth cooking at "affordable prices" ; cheerful Italian-speaking staffers man a casual, compact space that often overflows to sidewalk seating.
Namu Gaji
Korean · The Mission · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.0

"Creative" fusion fare is the draw at this midpriced Mission Korean-American, which melds "traditional and new-age Asian cuisines" highlighting organic, in-season ingredients; styled like a "modern gastropub" , the "unpretentious" , "upbeat" environs feature counter seats facing out to the street and community tables that foster a "sharing atmosphere."
Pizza · Outer Richmond · $$

Elevated Italian fare comes to the Outer Richmond with this neighborhood bistro known for midpriced pastas, wood-fired pizzas, wine and craft beer, plus a trendy vibe and a chic, date-friendly interior outfitted in tile, playful art and pendant lights.
Spanish · Mission Bay · $$$

From the Absinthe team comes this elevated, airy Spanish destination in SoMa serving highbrow seafood, paella, tapas, charcuterie and wood-fired dishes, along with an all-Spanish wine list, cocktails and sherry on tap. Expect a well-heeled crowd in the chic, spacious interior that's outfitted in rustic wood, sleek white subway tile and blue leather banquettes, plus plenty of bar, table and high-backed booth seating.
Mediterranean · The Mission · $$

Eastern Mediterranean fare gets the Northern California treatment at this modern Mission neighborhood bistro serving homey small plates and large-format mains, plus an ambitious bread selection and upscale wine and cocktails by the Bon Vivants team (Trick Dog, Aatxe) and a veteran sommelier. Moorish and Spanish design inspirations, turquoise walls, intricate latticework and polished concrete keep the interior airy and cheery – and there’s a small outdoor patio.
August 1 Five
Indian · Tenderloin · $$

Expect contemporary Indian fare with a California slant at this Van Ness Avenue lunch and dinner bistro, pairing midpriced menu items with international wines and cocktails that spotlight global flavors. Elegant and inviting, the spacious corner spot features modern design and offers a convenient option for local employees and concertgoers alike. P.S. Closed on Sundays, and weekday happy-hour specials available from 3–6 PM.
Central Kitchen
Californian · The Mission · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

The "inspired" , "constantly changing" menu "highlights local ingredients" in "unique ways" at this "splendid" Mission Californian from chef Thomas McNaughton (Flour + Water), where a "terrific" staff oversees a "high-energy" , "warehousey space" ; while tabs run "fairly steep" , it’s a "cool place to be" for a "special" night out (with a chef's choice option and wine pairing "if you're bold" ).
American · The Mission · $$

Expect a focused menu of midpriced housemade pastas, a few American entrees, gelato and wine (plus a few packaged retail items) at this stylish Mission bistro. Though it’s an order-at-the-counter setup, the airy, casual cafe maintains a more upscale atmosphere with sleek white tile, modern furnishings and plenty of banquette, table and counter seating.
Tartine Manufactory
Bakery · The Mission · $$

San Francisco’s legendary bakery expands into spacious, multipurpose Mission quarters that also house a coffee counter, ice cream parlor and midpriced Californian cafe and bar serving wine, beer and low-proof cocktails. With soaring ceilings and a modern, industrial-chic look (including stoneware from neighboring Heath Ceramics), this production kitchen and food hall–style destination hopes to elevate local cuisine to a new level.
Blue Barn Polk St
Deli · Russian Hill · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.8 · Service 3.8

"Creatively concocted sandwiches" and "spectacular salads" using "fresh organic" produce make for "hearty, healthy" dining at these "casual" Californians where eating your veggies is "a treat" ; since there's "limited seating" in the "cute" barnlike settings, some suggest "calling ahead and ordering takeout."
Al's Place
New American · The Mission · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.4

"Hands-on" chef Aaron London "marvels" with his "innovative" , "unusually structured" menu at this "hot" New American dinner spot in the Mission whose "beautiful" plates put "seasonal vegetables and high-quality fish at the forefront" (with sides for carnivores too); an "excellent" staff and "modern but casual" setting enhance the meal, though know that reservations can be "impossible" and "the check can run up on you" ; P.S. closed Monday–Tuesday.
Del Popolo
Pizza · Nob Hill · $$

This longtime pizza-truck favorite dishes up midpriced, wood-fired Neapolitan-style pies in a Nob Hill brick-and-mortar, amping up the menu with a few seasonal New American starters, plus craft beer and wine. A central pizza oven is fronted by a counter with vibrant green tiles, and diners choose from communal seating in the cozy bistro outfitted in vintage photos, rustic wood and shades of slate.
Bakery · Pacific Heights · $
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.0

"Always bustling" , these "go-to" bakery-cafes serve "simple but well-prepared" salads, sandwiches on "bomb bread" , "yummy" pastries and other American breakfast and lunch items to go with "amazing" Stumptown coffee drinks poured by "helpful" baristas; due to the crowds, they're "not the place for relaxed get-togethers" , but the atmosphere is "charming" nevertheless.
The Flying Falafel
Vegan · SoMa · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 2.8 · Service 4.2

"Crispy" , "awesome" falafel is the star at this Mid-Market option for all-vegan Mediterranean and Middle Eastern plates with gluten-free choices; there's "really great service" at the counter, so even if it's "very much a hole-in-the-wall" , the wallet-friendly food is "sooo worth it."
Gracias Madre
Organic · The Mission · $$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.0

Vegans call this "trendy" Mission cantina a "lifesaver" for serving "innovative" yet "comforting" meatless Mexican eats "without alienating omnivores" by being too "hippie-dippie" ; it's "not a venue for an intimate rendezvous" , but the "fun setting" has its own "allure" , as do moderate prices.
Nourish Cafe
Vegan · Nob Hill · $

Locally sourced, organic and non-GMO ingredients star in the “healthy” yet “always tasty” sandwiches, smoothies, “big salads” and other plant-based offerings at this San Francisco New American chain; featuring white subway tile, wood accents and lots of natural light, the stylish space is “very small” , so it gets “crowded” , but the “helpful” counter crew does its best to keep things moving.