California, the Golden State, is a land of dreams, diversity, and unparalleled beauty. From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the star-studded streets of Los Angeles, every mile traveled promises a new adventure.
As a native San Franciscan, I've traveled through this state countless times, and each trip unveils a new facet, a new story. Whether you're a food enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply an avid traveler, this guide will take you on a mesmerizing journey down the Pacific Coast.
Before we embark on this journey, a word to the wise: California's weather can be as diverse as its landscapes. San Francisco, with its microclimates, can be particularly tricky. So, pack a lightweight jacket, comfortable walking shoes, and perhaps a scarf or two. Trust us; the Bay Area's chilly winds have caught many off-guard! And if you're venturing on a boat ride, bundle up!
Wine Country: Beyond the Vines
For any wine aficionado, the rolling vineyards of Sonoma and Napa Valley are a sight to behold. These regions, synonymous with world-class wines, offer more than just a tasting experience. They're a blend of history, culture, and the art of winemaking. However, for the conscious traveler, finding vegan wineries can be a challenge. Here are three gems that not only produce exquisite wines but do so with a vegan touch:
Thumbprint Cellars: Located in the heart of Healdsburg, this winery is where every bottle tells a story of the land, the climate, and the passion that goes into winemaking. Discover their tales.
St. Clair Brown: An urban winery and culinary garden in Napa, it's a place where traditional winemaking meets modern aesthetics. Their garden offers a serene spot to savor their vegan wines. Experience the blend.
Mayo Family Winery: Nestled in the scenic landscapes of Sonoma Valley, this winery is a testament to family, tradition, and passion. Their tasting rooms in Glen Ellen promise an intimate wine experience. Taste the tradition.
Plant-Based places to eat in San Francisco: San Francisco is a haven for all culinary tastes. While there are numerous options to choose from around the city, here are some standout spots to consider during your visit:
Description: Founded by celebrity chef Matthew Kenney, BAIA offers elevated Italian classics like lasagna, pasta, and pizza. Expect hearty plant-based meatballs served over soft polenta and buttery garlic knots.
Website: BAIA SF
Description: Emphasizing seasonal ingredients with a vegetable-forward menu, Wildseed is the epitome of California cuisine. It's a top "special occasion" restaurant with botanically blended cocktails.
Website: Wildseed SF
3. Gracias Madre
Description: Located in the Mission District, Gracias Madre offers a cozy dining experience with dishes like caramelized onion and sweet potato flautas, and soy chorizo tacos. MICHELIN STARRED
Website: Gracias Madre SF
Description: A vegan sushi restaurant that combines classic Japanese Buddhist culinary techniques with local, seasonal ingredients. Known for its "Candlestick" roll that comes to the table with actual flames.
Website: Shizen SF
5. Peña Pachamama
Description: A North Beach spot offering a menu of half raw, half cooked food. Enjoy Bolivian delicacies while experiencing music, dancing, and special performances.
Website: Peña Pachamama
6. Nourish Café
Description: Offers healthy salads, hearty grain bowls, and baked goods made without refined flours or sugars. Known for its grilled cheese sandwiches with fresh pesto and tomatoes.
Website: Nourish Cafe SF
7. Wholesome Bakery
Description: A vegan bakery known for its decadent cakes, soft cookies, and buttery scones. All treats are gluten-free and have no refined sugars.
Website: Wholesome Bakery SF
8. Beloved Café
Description: Offers deeply nourishing smoothies and superfood bowls in the Mission District. A serene oasis for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Website: Beloved Cafe SF
Description: A throwback to the hippie era, offering green juices, hot soup, raw desserts, and sprouts. Located near Land’s End and Ocean Beach.
10. The Happy Vegan
Description: Offers loaded bagel sandwiches and toasts without gluten, soy, or GMOs. A pickup and delivery-only spot.
Website: Happy Vegan SF
11. Cha-Ya SF
Description: A vegan Japanese restaurant offering dishes from curry udon to stuffed miso-glazed eggplant. Known for its Creamy Yasai noodle soup.
Website: Cha-Ya SF
12. Loving Hut
Description: A worldwide vegan restaurant chain offering a diverse menu from Vietnamese to Chinese with classic American fare.
Website: Loving Hut SF
13. Vegan Mob
Description: Food truck that offers smoky, slow-cooked BBQ proteins. Known for its combo plate with various delicious sides.
Instagram: Vegan Mob
14. Next Level Burger
Description: A national chain offering burgers, shakes, and a twin concept focusing on plant-based chicken.
Instagram: Next Level Burger
Description: A vegan burger chain from Singapore on a mission to make fast food sustainable. Offers a variety of plant-based patties and loaded fries.
Website: VeganBurg SF
16. Golden Era Vegan Restaurant
Description: Offers Asian-fusion dishes in the Civic Center area.
Website: Golden Era SF
17. Thai Idea
Description: A vegan Thai restaurant offering dishes without the fear of fish sauce or shrimp paste. Known for its Wing Bomb appetizer.
Website: Thai Idea SF
18. IndoChine Vegan
Description: Offers sizzling teriyaki vegan chicken and sushi rolls with kale salad on the side and Thai iced tea.
Website: IndoChine SF
19. Lucky Creation
Description: Offers vegan dim sum in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Known for its Taro Fish and cheesecakes.
Facebook: Lucky Creation
In need of a bite? Mesa Verde Restaurant: For those with a penchant for vegan cuisine, Mesa Verde Restaurant is a must-visit. Drawing inspiration from Mediterranean and Mexican flavors, the dishes here are crafted using organic and locally-sourced ingredients. A highlight from their menu is the street tacos, a treat for the taste buds.
Eco-Friendly Exploration: For those keen on exploring Santa Barbara in an eco-friendly manner, this Electric Bike Tour offers a unique perspective of the city. Glide through its streets, taking in the sights and sounds, all while leaving a minimal carbon footprint.
Overnight Stays: After a day of exploration, retreat to the Hotel Milo Santa Barbara. This eco-friendly and pet-friendly haven promises a blend of luxury and sustainability, ensuring your stay is both comfortable and conscious.
Vegan restaurants you should try in Los Angeles: LA is a mecca for plant-based eating, and while the list is long, here are some highlights to explore during your trip:
1. Cafe Gratitude
Location: Multiple locations in LA
Top Recommendation: Chocolatey peanut butter treat made with puffed quinoa.
Why: A staple for LA visitors, Cafe Gratitude offers a delightful vegan menu with a homey touch. Their weekend brunch is a must-try, especially the vegan french toast and pancakes. Dive into their crispy quinoa almond butter square for a sweet treat!
Website: Cafe Gratitude
2. LOVE Organic
Location: West Hollywood
Top Recommendation: Patsyu, Pad Thai, and the spicy tuna crispy rice made with tofu.
Why: A fusion of Thai, Japanese, and Mexican dishes, LOVE Organic is a haven for those seeking diverse vegan options. Their dishes are not just vegan but are crafted with love and organic ingredients.
Website: LOVE Organic
Location: Multiple locations
Top Recommendation: Vegan tofu sticks, buffalo cauliflower, and Japanese roasted sweet potatoes from the hot bar.
Why: Erewhon is not just a restaurant but a high-end market offering a plethora of vegan options. Their hot bar is a must-visit, with dishes that are both delicious and health-conscious.
4. Sidecar Donuts
Location: Santa Monica and other locations in LA
Top Recommendation: Seasonal vegan and gluten-friendly donuts.
Why: Sidecar Donuts is a haven for donut lovers. With a rotating vegan flavor every season, it's a sweet spot you can't miss!
Website: Sidecar Donuts
5. Pura Vita
Location: West Hollywood & Redondo Beach
Top Recommendation: Vegan pizza with a gluten-free crust.
Why: Pura Vita brings Italian classics to the vegan table. Their vegan pizza, especially with the gluten-free crust, is a game-changer. Dive into the Italian vegan world here!
Website: Pura Vita
6. Pine and Crane
Location: Downtown LA and Silver Lake
Top Recommendation: Vegan scallion pancakes and bok choy dumplings.
Why: Authentic Taiwanese flavors with a vegan twist. Pine and Crane offers dishes that are rich in flavor and tradition.
Website: Pine and Crane
Location: Beverly Hills
Top Recommendation: Vegan croissants.
Why: While LADURÉE no longer offers a full vegan menu, their vegan croissants are a must-try. This iconic French bakery ensures every croissant is flaky, buttery, and absolutely delightful.
Sustainable Ways to Explore LA: For those looking to explore Los Angeles in an eco-friendly manner, the city offers a plethora of sustainable activities. From non-profits dedicated to greening the city to eco-friendly tours, LA is at the forefront of sustainable urban living.
For a detailed guide on sustainable activities in LA, check out Sustainable Ways to See LA.
This article has been a mere glimpse into the heart of California, a state that seamlessly blends nature's grandeur with human-made marvels.
Every corner of this state whispers tales of dreams realized, of boundaries pushed, and of cultures celebrated. The vegan delights we explored are not just about food but a testament to California's spirit of innovation and its commitment to a sustainable future.
As you embark on your own Californian adventure, remember that every road you take, every beach you walk on, and every bite you savor is a part of this state's rich tapestry. Whether you're a wanderer, a foodie, an artist, or a dreamer, California has a place for you, a story for you.
So, pack your bags, set your spirit free, and let California's magic envelop you. Here's to the sunsets you'll chase, the waves you'll dance with, and the memories you'll create. Until next time, keep California dreaming.