The 10 Best Vegan Spots In San Francisco's Mission District

Elisabetta Silvestro

As vegan food becomes increasinly popular, many restaurants in San Francisco are adapting their menus to satisfy the meat-free revolution. Local chefs make plant-based plates that are world’s away from steamed vegetables and limp tofu. We give you 10 of the best of these restaurants in the Mission District.

Beet burger on pancake bun from Hella Vegan Eats

Hella Vegan Eats

Hella Vegan Eats is a Bay Area food truck delivering the most creative and mouthwatering vegan concoctions. Their menu constantly varies to follow seasonality. Almost everything these two creative chefs make is from scratch, from the pickles to the burger buns and the ‘cheeze’ (made from cashews). The menu usually includes sandwiches, burgers, burritos, tacos, a salad and a dessert. Don’t be surprised to find mac and cheeze in your tacos or potstickers in your burrito. Hella Vegan Eats is a staple at the Civic Center and Mission District’s farmers’ markets and at Soma StrEat Food Park.

Tofu scramble from St. Francis Fountain

1. St. Francis Fountain

Diner, Ice Cream, American

© shannonclark/flickr
Open since 1918, St. Francis Fountain is ‘San Francisco’s oldest ice cream parlor’. Today this old-school Mission District diner has expanded its menu to offer a huge variety of breakfast dishes, including many vegan options. Ranchero tofu scramble with vegan chorizo, spinach mushroom and avocado is a must, and every scramble plate comes with a side of delicious house spuds. The friendly servers will ‘veganize’ almost anything and every dish is customizable. The vegan pancakes are the best in the city. The ‘vegan thing’ is a drool-worthy pile of potatoes with vegan jack cheese, fresh salsa, guacamole and green onions. Wash everything down with a soy vanilla milkshake.

2. Gracias Madre

Restaurant, Dessert Shop, Mexican, Vegan

Enchiladas at Gracias Madre
© Jules Morgan
Gracias Madre serves entirely vegan, organic Mexican food. With locally sourced, seasonal produce, the restaurant reinvents Mexican classics such as quesadillas, enchiladas, tamales, tacos and tostadas. Their famous quesadillas de calabaza are made of roasted sweet potato (or squash, depending on the season) and caramelized onions folded into tortillas with cashew nacho cheese and pumpkin seed salsa. Don’t miss their margaritas and desserts.

3. Ike’s Place

Sandwich Shop, American

Ike’s sandwiches might look like sandwiches, but they are something more. With a menu of around 80 combinations, 17 of which are vegan, Ike’s mixes vegan cheese, turkey and breaded chicken with all sorts of vegetables and sauces to deliver an out-of-this-world sandwich experience. The line might be long but there’s a reason (and an app to make it faster). Say yes to their secret sauce, and indulge on complementary chips while you wait.

4. Boogaloos

Diner, Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Vegan, Vegetarian

Boogaloos, San Francisco
Courtesy Schmidt's
Another Mission District’s brunch classic, Boogaloos serves a typical American breakfast with a ‘pan-Caribbean’ twist in an old-school diner ambiance. The tofu lover scram is a completely customizable scramble served with delicious potatoes. The soyrizo hash and eggs (sub tofu) is a decadent pile of potatoes, vegan chorizo and scrambled tofu; add more ingredients as well for extra delectability. The tofu fajitas and the soyrizo hash quesadillas are perfect for those south of the border brunch cravings.

5. Cha-Ya

Restaurant, Japanese, Vegetarian, Vegan

Soba Salad at Cha-Ya
© Arnold Gatilao
Cha-Ya, a casual all-vegan Japanese restaurant, has a huge sushi menu with all the possible vegetable combinations. The cha-ya roll is a lightly battered, deep-fried roll filled with asparagus, avocado, yam and carrots. The starlight roll is made with brown rice, eryngii mushrooms, spinach and asparagus, rolled up in an outer layer of avocado. The noodle soups are worth mentioning too. Made with either soba, udon or harusame, they come in eight varieties. The best ones? The vege-tofu curry, a curry soup loaded with seasonal vegetables and noodles, and the kinoko, with all the mushrooms: shimeji, eryngii, portobello and oyster.

Big Lantern

Big Lantern is the height of indulgence. This Chinese restaurant hits the spot, with many vegan options on their menu. The general meatless chicken has the most flavorful ‘chicken’ balls you could imagine, paired with broccoli for a healthy balance. The mango meatless chicken has the perfect sweet and sour combination. The vegetable chow mein and pot stickers are always a good idea. Get it delivered for a cozy stay-in Sunday night.

Big Lantern, 3170 16th Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 863 8100


6. Bender’s

Bar, Pub Grub

Beef Tacos are on the menu
© Kham Tran/WikiCommons
Imagine a bar where you could get a wide variety of draft beers, listen to good music, play pool, and eat vegan bar food. That place exists and it’s called Bender’s. This biker-friendly bar is open every day until 2am (their kitchen until 10 or 11pm, Sunday excluded). They serve the city’s best tater tots, perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft inside. But the best part are the finger foods, tacos, burgers and sandwiches. Try the vegan chick’n tenders or satan’s lil’ helpers (seitan nuggets), both served with vegan ranch. Then indulge into a ‘cockless’ vegan bbq chick’n sandwich, a breaded chick’n cutlet served on a fresh roll with citrus slaw and vegan ranch.

7. Lers Ros

Restaurant, Thai

Lers Ros
© Krista/Flickr
San Francisco has some of the best Thai restaurants, and Lers Ros is one of the most authentic around. The fact that they recently opened their third restaurant suggests they are doing something right. At Lers Ros, they are not afraid to use their spices. The dishes are tangy and spicy. With an all-vegetarian section, the vegan options are many. The tom kha pak tofu soup is a classic dish that here finds its perfect balance between coconut milk and lime. There are many tofu and vegetable-based entrées but perhaps the best dishes are the yellow, red or green curries. Lers Ros knows how to perfect classic Thai dishes.

8. Ken Ken Ramen

Restaurant, Japanese, Ramen

Ken Ken Ramen serves almost only ramen, in slow-cooked traditional Japanese style. Their flour comes all the way from Hokkaido. Ken Ken goes simple, focusing on the quality of their food and recipes. You won’t be left wanting more. Have a Asahi (the only beer on tap) at the bar while you wait for your table.

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