Vegan restaurant tour & reviews

October 14th, 2007

I can’t go anywhere without checking out as many vegan restaurants as I can find. So many are popping up in all corners of the world, that I will never hit them all. But here are my reviews of those that I have been lucky enough to try so far. I only list restaurants with a vegan menu. No half-assed vegetarian restaurants find their way onto this particular list.

Washington D.C. | Los Angeles, CA | San Diego, CA | San Francisco, CA | Concord, NH | New York, NY | Asheville, NC | Charlotte, NC | Austin, TX | Dallas, TX | Houston, TX | Salt Lake City, UT | Seattle, WA | Canada

Vegan restaurants in the U.S.

  • Washington D.C.
    • The Vegetable Garden
      11618 Rockville Pike
      Rockville, MD 20852
      This is the first vegan restaurant I ever ate at. I was so blown away by the food, I almost cried. Several pages of options, including several desserts. Lots of fake meats of various types. I had the veggie duck. It was amazing.
  • Los Angeles, CA
    • BabyCakes NYC
      130 E. 6th St.
      Los Angeles, CA
      This all vegan bakery, started in NYC and expanded to LA, features many gluten-free and sugar-free options. Their other items are made with spelt, which is healthier and tends to be easier on the digestive tract than regular flour. The cupcakes, breads, and cookies were absolutely delicious. The donuts were OK, but not awesome. Items are quite expensive, but maybe that’s the way it ought to be for such indulgences.
    • Better Life Cuisine
      717 Broadway Ave.
      Santa Monica, CA 90401
      For raw, organic, vegan food, the prices here were fairly reasonable. Especially for L.A. which I found generally to be very expensive. I tried the egg salad, which used young coconut as it’s egg substitute, and the manicotti rolls. Both were really good. I also took home 3 desserts: cinnamon rolls and pumpkin pie. Both had amazing flavor and texture but were way way way too sweet. Perhaps there was a time in the past when I would have enjoyed that. But the true disappointment of this restaurant was the smoothies. I tried 2 and they were both unforgivably bad, especially for $10. Possibly the worst food I have ever purchased in a restaurant ever.
    • Native Foods Cafe
      1110-1/2 Gayley Ave. (multiple locations available)
      Los Angeles, CA 90024
      Definitely the place to go if you’re trying to satisfy some cravings for comfort food. I was able to try the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger (amazing), and the quinoa mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets from the kids menu (also amazing). It does have some healthy options but it’s not the place to go if you’re trying to be on the straight and narrow. Too many very unhealthy (albeit delicious) temptations.
    • Real Food Daily
      414 N. La Cienega Blvd. (multiple locations available)
      West Hollywood, CA 90048
      (310) 289-9910
      Probably my favorite all-vegan restaurant in LA. The menu has all the old favorites but tends ever so slightly toward the healthier side and has a nice atmosphere. I was happy to find a gluten-free option that also sounded really good – Pizza You Can Eat-za. It fell apart too easily to pick up like regular pizza, but otherwise was the best vegan pizza I’ve ever had. Loved it. I wish I’d had a chance to try them out for brunch.
    • Seed
      1604 Pacific Ave.
      Venice, CA 90291
      Surrounded by the touristy atmosphere of Venice Beach, I felt really lucky to find this place. Seed is a vegan, organic, macrobiotic restaurant. According to the sign that was hanging up, their blackened tempeh burger is award-winning. My traveling companion was smart enough to try that – it was delicious. I had the Japanese curry bowl which was lacking – too many carrots and almost no shiitake mushrooms. And it was much too expensive. The Madonna’s coconut mousse was also too expensive for what it was – very small and very little flavor. At least it wasn’t too sweet. Seed is good in a pinch but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.
  • San Diego, CA
    • Evolution Fast Food
      2949 5th Ave.
      San Diego, CA
      (619) 550-1818
      Drive through or order take-out at the counter inside. They have a few chairs inside. The menu is reminiscent of traditional fast food – burgers, fries, shakes, and sandwiches, but way way healthier. They have several gluten-free options as well as a nice selection of raw food. The gluten-free version of the mushroom swiss burger was very flavorful and satisfying. I also grabbed a banana bread cookie to eat the next morning for breakfast, which was delicious. I came back another night for a smoothie, since they seem to have some of the more interesting smoothies in San Diego. I’m afraid I can’t remember what I got but it definitely hit the spot.
    • The Greenery Raw Food Cafe
      133 Daphne St.
      Encinitas, CA
      Not quite as good as Peace Pies (see below) but similar concept. I think I caught them at a time when they were out of most of their options, which is why it didn’t seem as good. Greenery does have a made-to-order menu for dinner, but I ate there during lunch, which is pre-made raw food items. I had a pretty good pizza and one of the best seaweed salad’s I’ve ever had.
    • Peace Pies
      4230 Voltaire St.
      San Diego, CA
      “I’ll have one of everything!” OK, it wasn’t exactly like that but pretty close. This 100% raw cafe didn’t look too promising when I first walked in. Most of the lunch options were pre-made in a fridge, not made-to-order. But When I looked up close, everything looked like something I had to try. I had some spaghetti with pesto, a slice of pizza, veggie sandwich, vanilla ice cream, and a slice of coconut cream pie with chocolate on top. I also got some cinnamon rolls to take for breakfast the next day. Everything I tried was outstanding. Truly delicious.
    • Stephanie’s Bakery
      4879 Voltaire St.
      San Diego, CA
      Their website proclaims that they have the “best vegan pizza ever!” so that definitely seemed worth trying. Unfortunately, they were out of the gluten-free crust, but I decided to suffer through the gluten in order to get to try out their pizza. I don’t know if it lived up to the hype, but it was pretty good pizza. Definitely no complaints. I had the “Supreme” pizza which includes vegan pepperoni and several vegetables. They also use Follow Your Heart cheese. I also grabbed a gluten-free brownie, which was very tasty. Their other cakes looked absolutely incredible, but I didn’t want to eat any more gluten than I already had.
  • San Francisco, CA
    • Cafe Gratitude
      3 locations. See website for locations in
      San Francisco and Berkeley, CA.
      I was in San Francisco for about 48 hours and I tried all 3 of the Cafe Gratitudes in the area. This is definitely, without a doubt, my favorite restaurant of all time. It’s almost entirely raw, which I’m all about now. The prices are very cheap considering how amazing the food is. I could eat there every day and never get tired of it. I even bought the recipe book they sell.
    • Millenium
      580 Geary Street
      San Francisco, CA
      If you want to get seated, make a reservation. This place is pretty swanky. Very expensive but worth it for an occassional great meal. Their entrees look like artistic sculptures. Delicious too.
    • Herbivore
      983 Valencia
      San Francisco, CA
      This was a nice casual, inexpensive restaurant. I have no complaints. The menu was varied and the food was good. Not overly memorable to me, but a lot of people love it.
    • RAW Living Food Restaurant
      1224 9th Avenue
      San Francisco CA 94122
      If you like raw food, you’ll probably love this place. It’s the only raw restaurant I’ve ever been to, so I don’t have much to compare it to. I was very surprised at how much flavor the food had. It was so intense, I could barely eat it. I didn’t love it, but I am very very glad I tried it.
  • Concord, NH
    • Cafe Indigo
      128H Hall Street
      Concord, NH
      Cafe Indigo isn’t easy to find, tucked away in the back of a business park, but it is definitely worth going out of the way for. The menu offers fairly standard items, such as eggless egg salad, lentil soup, veggie burger, and faux meat wraps, as well as a nice selection of baked goods and desserts, but the flavor and texture make this some of the best vegan comfort food I’ve ever had. They offer several gluten-free choices. I highly recommend the blueberry cheesecake, which has an unbelievable taste and texture (the crust is not gluten-free). See also my full review of Cafe Indigo.
  • New York, NY
    • Angelica Kitchen
      300 E 12th St (1st Avenue)
      New York, NY
      I haven’t spent that much time in Manhattan as a vegan, but I must have eaten at Angelica at least four times. It seemed expensive, but for New York I think it was fairly cheap. Especially when you consider that everything on the menu is organic. This is one of my favorite restaurants. The menu is full of vegan versions of old favorites. Everything I ever ordered was amazing, especially the desserts. But don’t keep pointing to items, asking the staff if it is vegan. They hate that.
    • Vegetarian Paradise 2 (VP2)
      144 W 4th St
      New York, NY
      Chinese food with convincing fake meat. Not necessarilly what I would want to eat all the time, but if you don’t mind greasy fattening food, it’s great. They have healthier items as well.
  • Asheville, NC

    • Plant
      165 Merrimon Ave.
      Asheville, NC
      Asheville’s only vegan restaurant. Several gluten-free options. Brunch on Sundays. The owners are always present and very interested in ensuring that their customers are happy. The kitchen is open so you can watch the chef prepare meals. Plant is more upscale than most of Asheville’s restaurants and a little more pricey than average, but well worth it. Every dish is a falvorful work of art, more unique than the standard vegan restaurant meal.
  • Charlotte, NC

    • Bean Vegan Cuisine
      3001 E Independence Blvd.
      Charlotte, NC
      Vegan comfort food but with unique ingredients. Jackfruit tacos, for instance. Plenty of gluten-free options. If you don’t mind gluten, the bacon cheeseburger is delicious. The gluten-free Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos are a very popular dish, although I wasn’t wild about it. All our side dishes were excellent – mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, and sweet potato fries. Their desserts are amazing. Service was excellent. I highly recomment Bean Vegan Cuisine if you’re anywhere near Charlotte.
    • Luna’s Living Kitchen
      2102 South Blvd.
      Charlotte, NC
      Raw, vegan, open only for breakfast and lunch. Many gluten-free options. They have an extensive breakfast menu, but I was hoping to order something off the lunch menu. Unfortunately it was too early, and I didn’t end up making it back there again later. I ordered the Bombin’ Buckwheat Blaster, which was tasty and full of fresh fruit. For me though, it was way too sweet, which means most people would probably love it. Even so, I could tell the quality of the food was top notch, and I hope to try their lunch menu next time I’m in Charlotte.
  • Austin, TX
    • Casa de Luz
      1701 Toomey Rd
      Austin, TX
      Even without the food, Casa de Luz is a great place. You can’t spend time there without feeling calm and pleasant. You can’t eat the food and leave feeling unhealthy. It is mostly macrobiotic and organic. Much of the food comes from their own garden. There is no menu, you just get a plate of whatever they are serving that night with soup and salad. The difference in meals from day to day is subtle, but I never got tired of eating there.
  • Dallas, TX
    • Spiral Diner
      1401 Jones St
      Fort Worth, TX
      Spiral Diner is your basic burger and sandwich shop and offers other old favorites, like spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, and baked potatoes. I didn’t love the carrot cake, but the meatballs were just how they should have been. I highly recommend trying anything with their hummus in it. I know, you can get hummus anywhere, but trust me, theirs is special. They also sell vegan cat food.
  • Houston, TX
    • Wonderful Vegetarian Restaurant (now Tien Ren)
      7549 Westheimer, Houston, TX 77063
      Wonderful Vegetarian was a favorite place to eat after animal rights protests. By that time we were starving and tired so the food tasted great. But it was a fairly typical chinese buffet. A decent selection and some good desserts. A bit on the greasy side. If you’re stuck in Houston, try it. Don’t go out of your way.
      I am told that this restaurant closed and reopened as Tien Ren, also completely vegan. The buffet, menu, baked goods, and atmosphere received high marks from at least one family so it might be worth checking out.
    • Green Planet Vegetarian Cafe
      9013 Westheimer Road
      Houston, TX
      This one is another Chinese buffet, but they also have a dinner menu. I didn’t care for it. It wasn’t interesting at all. It’s possible that I am getting these two places mixed up, but it almost doesn’t matter.
  • Salt Lake City, UT
    • Sage’s Cafe
      473 E 300 S
      Salt Lake City, UT
      Not only does Sage’s Cafe have great food, but it is run by the nicest people in the restaurant industry. During the long road trip from Austin to Seattle, we were heading toward Salt Lake City, trying desperately to arrive in time to try Sage’s. They were about to close when we were still twenty minutes away. Hungry, we called them to ask if they could recommend a place where we could get some vegan food late at night. Rather than directing us to some grocery store, they read the menu to us over the phone, took our orders, and stayed open an extra half hour just so we could eat. Unbelievable. And so was the food. I had the Mushroom Stroganoff for dinner, then went back for breakfast and had French Toast. Some day, I would like to go back to Salt Lake City long enough to try everything on the menu. If you go anywhere near Utah, find a way to make it to Sage’s.
  • Seattle, WA
    • Araya’s Vegetarian Place
      4730 University Way NE
      Seattle, WA
      Araya’s is great Thai food. Unfortunately, I don’t care for Thai food. I don’t hate it, it just doesn’t excite me at all. But if you like Thai, I highly recommend trying it.
    • Bamboo Garden
      364 Roy St
      Seattle, WA
      Everyone raves about the Bamboo Garden and it always wins in the polls. I think it’s mediocre at best. In a town with no other options, I would be glad to have it. In Seattle, I won’t waste my money on it again. Their balls of fake meat are pretty good, but every dish on the menu is the same, and not very interesting.
    • Cafe Ambrosia (Closed)
      2501 Fairview Ave E
      Seattle, WA
      Ambrosia’s menu is pretty small, but I haven’t ever tried anything there that didn’t impress me. From appetizers to desserts, the food is amazing. Their brunch is even better. Everything, including the beer and wine, is organic.
    • The Globe
      1531 14th Ave
      Seattle, WA
      The Globe is a great cheap place to eat a filling breakfast. Their grits are fantastic. I’m not a huge fan of their lunch menu, but I eat breakfast there all the time.
    • Good Morning Healing Earth (Closed – now Rainy Day Vegan Cafe)
      901 NE 55th St
      Seattle, WA
      This is another favorite. Best gravy in town. He makes his own tofu and seitan and it is delicious. Great for lunch and breakfast. Prices are reasonable. But don’t skimp on the tip or there will be hell to pay.
    • Hillside Quickies
      4106 Brooklyn Ave NE
      Seattle, WA
      I love Quickies! Good, cheap, greasy sandwich shop. If they happen to have the tofu pot pie, order it. Otherwise, any sandwich on the menu will satisfy.
    • In The Bowl
      1554 E. Olive Way
      Seattle, WA
      In the Bowl has a huge menu, and as far as I can tell, everything on it is tasty. Almost all dishes come with a choice of tofu, fish, prawn, duck, or beef – the faux kind, of course. The food is fairly cheap.
    • Rainy Day Vegan Cafe
      901 NE 55th St
      Seattle, WA
      This is quickly turning into one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle. Their menu is interesting and almost everything I try is fantastic. What’s even better is they are always experimenting with new dishes. Specials have included grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken parmesan. Prices are reasonable, service is great. My only complaint is that the portions are sometimes inconsitent.
    • Mighty-O Donuts
      2110 N 55th St
      Seattle, WA
      A vegan donut shop? I never thought I would see the day. The donuts are a lot more like cake than donuts though. They are great desserts, but don’t expect them to be anything like Dunkin.
    • Pizza Pi
      5500 University Way NE
      Seattle, WA
      I couldn’t stay away from Pizza Pi if I tried. I don’t know how he makes the vegan cheese, but it makes me wonder why all the vegan cheeses you find in stores taste like vomit. Ordering at Pizza Pi is just like ordering at any other Pizzaria, except when you ask for sausage, bacon, or other meat, no animals suffer as a result. The calzones are great too. I highly recommend trying the white garlic sauce in place of the regular red sauce. But don’t ask for both. He hates that. “No, I can’t make pink sauce!”
    • Teapot Vegetarian House
      125 15th Ave E
      Seattle, WA
      I may be the only vegan in Seattle who doesn’t like this place. Aside from the rose chicken, which is just like the real thing, I have never had an entree I liked. Their mango cheesecake is the best vegan cheesecake I’ve ever had though.
    • Vegan Garden
      1228 S Jackson St
      Seattle, WA
      There are so many items on the menu that it’s really difficult to choose. It’s mostly faux meat, Asian style. If you’re feeling like having delicious but greasy fried food, this is the place for you.

Vegan restaurants in Canada

  • Montreal, QC
    • Aux Vivres
      4631 boulevard Saint-Laurent
      Montreal, QC
      Gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free options are all labeled on the menu, and there are a number of items available for each category. They have comfort food and decadent desserts as well as healthy, satisfying meals. A meat-eater friend of mine tried the chocolate apple cake and was impressed. They have some brunch items on Saturday and Sunday that are worth trying as well. This was definitely a favorite restaurant of mine.
    • Panthere Verte (Green Panther)
      2153 MacKay St.
      Montreal, QC
      Not much in the way of gluten-free since their entrees come on pita bread. They also have soups and many raw desserts and snacks. They also have fresh juices. The cashier recommended the falafel pita, so I followed her advice. It was really really good. They must make their pita bread fresh daily because I’ve never before known it to be so soft. Not the kind of food I happen to prefer, but it’s worth checking out. They compost and recycle almost everything, which is nice.
  • Toronto, ON
    • Live
      264 Dupont St.
      Toronto, ON
      It is too bad that I was only able to visit this restaurant once during my trip to Toronto. It features raw, organic, vegan food, but offers cooked options as well. Gluten-free and nut-free items are clearly labeled. Whatever you get will probably be out of this world. But make sure to leave room for dessert. I had the most incredible raw vegan tiramisu. If you go to Toronto, you must visit Live.
  • Victoria, BC
    • Green Cuisine
      #5 – 560 Johnson St.
      Victoria, BC V8W 3C6
      Buffet style dining. Pay by the gram in Canadian dollars. If you’re an American, you probably won’t have any clue how to estimate how much you’re spending for a meal in American dollars. I sure didn’t, but I’m pretty sure it was cheap. And if it wasn’t, that’s ok because the food is worth the price. Good variety and everything I tried was satisfying and tasty.
    • Lotus Pond Vegetarian Restaurant
      617 Johnson St.
      Victoria, BC V8W 1M5
      If you show up right before 3pm when they are no longer refilling the buffet, you can get lunch for super cheap, as long as you don’t mind eating the dregs of the buffet. I also tried Lotus Pond for dinner. It is more or less your standard Asian-style vegan restaurant, but the menu is extensive. Lots of fake meat dishes. Good portion sizes. The water chestnut cake is definitely not cake, and it isn’t very good. Enjoy your entree at Lotus Pond, but get your dessert down the street at Green Cuisine.
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3 Responses to “Vegan restaurant tour & reviews”

  1. Ariel Says:

    You may like to try out Good To Go in Huntington Beach! We are a Raw/vegan/vegetarian restaurant and provide a wide variety of healthy options!

    -Good To Go

  2. Danny Peck Says:

    You didn’t hit up Rosettas in Asheville! That’s a crying shame. Amazing vegan place. Come back and try it out some time!

  3. vegangirl Says:

    Danny – I’ve eaten at Rosetta’s many times. It’s a great restaurant with a fun and interesting menu. This particular page only lists vegan restaurants. Rosetta’s is a vegetarian restaurant.

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