Best of Vegan in San Diego 2017

The voters have spoken! Below are the results of the second annual Best Of Vegan In San Diego awards! Voting was open from December 25, 2017, through January 16, 2018. To see the full details of the contest, please visit the 2017 contest page.

Thank you to the 2,600+ voters who helped us determine the Best Of Vegan In San Diego 2017. We look forward to bringing you the 2018 awards in December 2018!

San Diego’s 2017 best….


ALL-VEGAN RESTAURANT: Plant Power Fast Food (two-time winner!)
Runner up: Donna Jean (opened in 2017!)

About Plant Power Fast Food
Plant Power Fast Food brings San Diego 100% vegan fast food from two locations near the beach. Plant Power’s first location, Ocean Beach, has created a lot of buzz since its opening in January 2016. Its second location in Encinitas, in April 2017, won the internet when viral videos zoomed around the world about the new vegan chain that opened a vegan drive-thru in a former Burger King location. Plant Power is known for its vegan burgers, wraps, frozen desserts and fast food atmosphere. They were also voted Best Vegan Burger and Best Vegan, Gluten-Free Options in the Best Of Vegan In San Diego 2016 and 2017 contest, as well as Best Vegan Frozen Dessert in the 2016 contest.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

About Donna Jean
Donna Jean is a fully vegan restaurant on the west side of Balboa Park in Bankers Hill. It opened its doors in February 2017 and quickly made a name for itself with its famous skillet-cooked Mac n Cheese and Nashville Hot Shrooms. The additions of pizzas to the menu and weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday solidified Donna Jean as a San Diego restaurant destination.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

 


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VEGAN POP-UP: Blissful Gatherings (started in 2017!)
Runner up: Anthem Vegan (2016 winner!)

About Blissful Gatherings
Blissful Gatherings is an intimate, backyard experiences that is totally reflective of its name. Hosted in Chula Vista, Blissful Gatherings is a monthly dining experience with a unique menu each month, serving local produce and thoughtful dishes.
Visit their Instagram to learn more and their website to book your seat.

About Anthem Vegan
Anthem Vegan brings innovative vegan food to virtually all corners of San Diego county — from Otay Mesa, to Carlsbad, to SDSU (when in session). Visit their website or Instagram for the current locations and schedule, and get excited for the permanent restaurant opening February 3, 2018! Anthem is known for its vegan tacos, burritos and rad staff; there is usually something special on the menu for the week (or day!).
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

 


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VEGAN-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT: Pokez Mexican Restaurant
Runner up: Plumeria Vegetarian Restaurant

About Pokez Mexican Restaurant
Pokez Mexican Restaurant is known for being one of the original vegan-friendly restaurants in San Diego. This Downtown eatery–opened in March 1994–offers a menu which clearly labels which items are vegan or may be ordered vegan. A rarity among most Mexican restaurants, Pokez offers 100% vegan beans and rice, cooked with vegetable oil instead of the typical lard.
Visit their website to learn more and to see their menu.

About Plumeria Vegetarian Restaurant
Plumeria Vegetarian Restaurant is located in the heart of University Heights. This vegetarian restaurant is among the top of locals’ favorites list. Vegan items are clearly labeled on the menu. Plus, if you bring your own container, you save $1 off all to-go orders.
Visit their website to learn more and to see their menu.


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VEGAN-FRIENDLY CAFE: Dark Horse Coffee Roasters
Runner up: Holy Matcha

About Dark Horse Coffee Roasters
Dark Horse Coffee Roasters takes pride in roasting the freshest quality beans, daily, in-house. This fan-favorite coffee shop also offers vegan donuts from Skinny Donuts.
Visit their website to learn more and to their products.

About Holy Matcha
Founder Geraldine Ridaura was inspired to open Holy Matcha after traveling to Japan and discovering the vibrant green tea. This picturesque cafe opened its doors in San Diego in March 2017 and quickly became a gram-worthy haven. Holy Matcha is one of San Diego’s few businesses offering gluten-free vegan donuts.
Visit their website to learn more.


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VEGAN-FRIENDLY FOOD PREP SERVICE: Moncai Vegan
Runner up: Katie’s Healing Kitchen

About Moncai Vegan
Local vegans were buzzing over the unexpected closing of the Moncai Vegan restaurant in mid-2017, but Moncai is a force stronger than just its former permanent location. Moncai has since transformed into a catering and special order service, offering their famous cinnamon rolls and more.
Visit their Instagram to learn more.

About Katie’s Healing Kitchen
Catering, pop-ups, and cooking classes–Katie’s Healing Kitchen seems to do it all! There’s no wonder why Katie’s received several nominations and honorable mentions, in addition to being named San Diego’s best vegan nutrition and cooking classes of 2017. Katie’s offers a broad menu of catering options, and all of them are delicious!
Visit Katie’s website to learn more and to their catering services.

 


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VEGAN-FRIENDLY MARKET/GROCERY STORE: Ocean Beach People’s Market (2016 winner!)
Runner up: Sprouts (2016 runner up!)

About Ocean Beach People’s Market
Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market is a member-owned vegetarian food co-op that has been serving the community since 1972. Originally a worker’s collective, the cooperative has grown to include 6,000 feet of retail space and more than 13,500 member/owners. The Co-op offers an extensive selection of organic produce, grocery, dairy, and bulk foods and herbs, as well as vitamins and homeopathic goods, cruelty-free body care, and aromatherapy products. Enjoy a full-service, award winning deli featuring a delicious selection of home-style vegetarian and vegan entrees, salads, sandwiches, freshly prepared baked goods, desserts, and more! People’s, San Diego’s only customer-owned grocery store, specializes in products that are organic, wholesome, minimally processed, vegetarian, and environmentally safe.
Learn more about Ocean Beach People’s Market on their website.

About Sprouts
There are several Sprouts locations around San Diego County. In addition to fresh, whole foods, Sprouts offers many vegan products that can be found throughout the store and in the dairy/non-dairy section.
Visit the Sprouts website to learn more, and to find a store near you.


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VEGAN-FRIENDLY LOCAL MANUFACTURER: Sam’s Organics
Runner up: Bitchin’ Sauce

 

About Sam’s Organics
Written by Kelly Bone (Instagram / Website)
Handcrafted in San Diego is Sam’s Organics, owned by Sam Melesko, a registered nurse whose work in the field inspired her to develop a line organic bath and body products meant to nourish from the outside in. Botanically infused body butters, room sprays, and soy candles fill the nose with lavender, rose, and the sweet rustle of lemongrass.
Visit Sam’s website to learn more.

About Bitchin’ Sauce
Written by Kelly Bone (Instagram / Website)
Via Costco and Whole Foods, this Carlsbad based business reaches mouths outside of the region. Still, the free samples and best prices can be found every day at farmer’s markets throughout San Diego. The almond-based spread comes in six standard flavors with the occasional special edition such as Ghost Pepper or Green Onion showing up on the table. The appeal of these dips transcends vegan demand, establishing Bitchin’ Sauce as one of the most popular homegrown vegan products from San Diego.
Visit their website to learn more and to their products.

 


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ANIMAL RESCUE/SANCTUARY: Farm Animal Refuge (2016 winner!)
Runner up: San Diego Farm Animal Rescue (2016 runner up!)

About Farm Animal Refuge
Farm Animal Refuge provides Refuge to neglected/abused/unwanted farm animals while educating the public on the benefits of compassionate living and a plant-based diet. This rescue is located in Campo, CA, and is vegan owned and operated. To get to know the animals at the farm, follow their adventures on Facebook and Instagram. Donations are welcome and can be made via PayPal to farmanimalrefuge@gmail.com.
Visit their Facebook page for more information. A website is coming soon.

About San Diego Farm Animal Rescue
San Diego Farm Animal Rescue rescues farm animals in need, educates through compassion, and advocates for the fair and ethical treatment of all animals.
Learn more about this rescue on their website.

 


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VEGAN-THEMED PODCAST: Beyond the Podcast by Brian Turner (2016 runner up!)
Runner up: Vegan Danielle by Danielle Petze (new in 2017!)

About Beyond the Podcast by Brian Turner
Beyond the Podcast is a show hosted by popular lifestyle/fitness YouTuber Brian Turner wherein he discusses various topics of all types with rotating guests as they become available!
Subscribe to Beyond the Podcast on iTunes.

About Vegan Danielle by Danielle Petze
Vegan Danielle quickly made a name for herself through her Instagram, but the creation of her podcast in 2017 took her platform to a new level. The Vegan Danielle podcast is produced by Specialty Produce, recorded in their own on-site studio. Danielle has interviewed more than 40 locals and influential people in the vegan community.
Subscribe to the Vegan Danielle podcast on iTunes.

 


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VEGAN NUTRITION AND COOKING CLASS: Katie’s Healing Kitchen
Runner up: Veg-Appeal (2016 winner!)

About Katie’s Healing Kitchen
Catering, pop-ups, and cooking classes–Katie’s Healing Kitchen seems to do it all! There’s no wonder why Katie’s received several nominations and honorable mentions, in addition to being named San Diego’s best vegan nutrition and cooking classes of 2017. Katie’s offers a broad menu of catering options, and all of them are delicious!
Visit Katie’s website to learn more and to their classes and events.

About Veg-Appeal
Veg-Appeal helps individuals and groups achieve their health goals through a whole-food, plant-powered and planet-friendly way of eating. They specialize in healthy, vegan cooking classes in San Diego County.
Visit the Veg-Appeal website to learn more.

 


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VEGAN BRUNCH: Kindred (2016 winner!)
Runner up: Donna Jean (opened in 2017!)

About Kindred
KINDRED is a “vegan death metal” bar located in San Diego’s South Park. It’s well known for its atmosphere and wolf-head sculpture on the wall. Kindred was voted Best Vegan Brunch and Best Vegan Sandwich in the Best Of Vegan In San Diego 2016 contest. The Saturday and Sunday brunch at Kindred is highly regarded for its pancakes, Tofu Benedict, and French toast.
Visit their website to learn more, and to view their brunch menu.

About Donna Jean
Donna Jean added brunch to its menu in April 2017, offering home-cooked style classics and favorites like biscuits and gravy, pancakes and French toast. Donna Jean now serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, making a perfect mid-day meal when coupled with its beautiful patio.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their brunch menu.

 


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VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE OPTIONS: Plant Power Fast Food (2016 winner!)
Runner up: Cafe Gratitude

About Plant Power Fast Food’s gluten-free options
In addition to being voted San Diego’s Best All-Vegan Restaurant of 2016 and 2017, Plant Power Fast Food is also known for its numerous gluten-free items. Most of its burgers can be orders with a gluten-free bun or wrapped in cabbage. Many of its daily desserts are gluten-free, and all of its gluten-free options are clearly labeled on the menu.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

About Cafe Gratitude
Café Gratitude has a chain of plant-based restaurants specializing in gourmet cuisines. This restaurant strives to create a menu and environment that support health and sustainability for both its community and the planet. With exception for honey/bee pollen on its menu, Cafe Gratitude offers a vegan menu filled with plenty of gluten free options.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their San Diego menu.

 


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VEGAN PIZZA: Donna Jean (new in 2017!)
Runner Up: Blind Lady Ale House (2016 winner!)

About Donna Jean’s pizzas
Donna Jean is a fully vegan restaurant on the west side of Balboa Park in Bankers Hill. It opened its doors in February 2017 and quickly made a name for itself with its famous skillet-cooked Mac n Cheese and Nashville Hot Shrooms. The additions of pizzas to the menu and weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday solidified Donna Jean as a San Diego restaurant destination. Chef Roy’s creativity doesn’t stop in the kitchen — almost all of the pizzas have been named after metal bands and songs (hence Thunderkiss ’65, and Pie on Fire).
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

About Blind Lady Ale House
Blind Lady Ale House (BLAH) offers craft pizza and beer in San Diego’s Normal Heights area. BLAH is partially owned by vegans, and has several menu items (including pizzas) clearly labeled as vegan (marked with V+). BLAH offers Meatless Monday specials every Monday, and in 2017 they launched the Agents of Change fundraising initiative for designated monthly charities.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

 


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VEGAN SANDWICH: Anthem Vegan (2016 runner up!)
Runner up: Kindred (2016 winner!)

About Anthem Vegan’s sandwiches
Anthem Vegan brings innovative vegan food to virtually all corners of San Diego county — from Otay Mesa, to Carlsbad, to SDSU (when in session). Visit their website or Instagram for the current locations and schedule. Anthem is known for its vegan tacos, burritos and rad staff; there is usually something special on the menu for the week (or day!).
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

About Kindred’s sandwiches
KINDRED is a vegan death metal bar located in San Diego’s South Park. It’s well known for its atmosphere and wolf-head sculpture on the wall. Kindred was voted Best Vegan Brunch and Best Vegan Sandwich in the Best Of Vegan In San Diego 2016 contest. The award-winning vegan sandwiches include The Wanderer: Blackened Tofu, Spiced Red Cabbage, Apricot Chutney, Lime Pepita Aioli, Focaccia, Potato Chips; and, the Memphis BBQ Jackfruit: Pulled Soy Curls, Green Chili Aioli, Pickle, Onion, Dijon Mustard, Sourdough, Potato Chips.
Visit their website to learn more, and to view their menu.

 


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VEGAN BURGER: Plant Power Fast Food (2016 winner!)
Runner up: Evolution Fast Food

About Plant Power Fast Food’s burgers
Plant Power Fast Food brings San Diego 100% vegan fast food from two locations near the beach. Plant Power’s first location, Ocean Beach, has created a lot of buzz since its opening in January 2016. Its second location in Encinitas, in April 2017, won the internet when viral videos zoomed around the world about the new vegan chain that opened a vegan drive-thru in a former Burger King location. Plant Power is known for its vegan burgers, wraps, frozen desserts and fast food atmosphere. They were also voted Best Vegan Restaurant and Best Vegan, Gluten-Free Options in the Best Of Vegan In San Diego 2016 and 2017 contest, as well as Best Vegan Frozen Dessert in the 2016 contest.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

About Evolution Fast Food
Long standing Evolution Fast Food won over vegans as one of San Diego’s first vegan restaurants, with bonus points for the drive-thru. Fans love Evolution’s burgers and soft serve ice cream, along with their raw options and milkshakes.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

 


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VEGAN BURRITO: Pokez Mexican Restaurant
Runner up: Anthem Vegan

About Pokez Mexican Restaurant
Written by Kelly Bone (Instagram / Website)
An early adapter to the San Diego vegan scene, East Village’s Pokez has been slinging their vegan refried beans and San Diego Soy Dairy Tofu stuffed burritos into the bellies of hungry vegans for years. Classics like Machaca or the enduring Tofu, Potato, Mushroom burrito keep the wood booth full as does the simple cabbage salad that accompanies the dishes.
Visit their website to learn more and to see their menu.

About Anthem Vegan
Anthem Vegan brings innovative vegan food to virtually all corners of San Diego county — from Otay Mesa, to Carlsbad, to SDSU (when in session). Visit their website or Instagram for the current locations and schedule. Anthem is known for its vegan tacos, burritos and rad staff; there is usually something special on the menu for the week (or day!).
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.


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VEGAN FALAFEL: Mama’s Bakery (2016 winner!)
Runner up: Pita Guys

About Mama’s Bakery
Mama’s Bakery offers traditional Lebanese cuisine and earned the title of San Diego’s Best Vegan Falafel in 2017 and 2016!
Learn more on the Mama’s Bakery website and view the menu to check out its vegan options.

About Pita Guys
Written by Kelly Bone (Instagram / Website)
San Diego native brothers helm San Marco’s Pitas Guys, where scratch-made falafel come on built-to-order salads, sandwiches, and bowls. Vegan items are clearly marked and the staff will happily pile in the cucumber salad, pickled turnips, and golden slivered almonds to your liking.
Learn more on the Pita Guys website and view the menu to check out its vegan options.

 


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VEGAN SUSHI: Sipz (2016 winner!)
Runner up: Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub

About Sipz
Sipz is a well-known vegetarian restaurant in San Diego with two locations so far, offering a nearly all-vegan menu. Both locations–North Park and Clairemont Mesa–offer vegan sushi daily after 5 p.m., and North Park serves vegan sushi all day on Fridays and Saturdays. Sipz also offers many mock meat dishes such as Kung Pao, but customers love their Caterpillar Roll and Sipz Dynamite roll.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menus.

About Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub
Written by Kelly Bone (Instagram / Website)
When a sushi chef, Davin Waite, marries a vegan, Jessica Waite, we all get to come to the party. This party being the plant based portion of Wrench and Rodent’s menu, where levels of creativity not usually bestowed on vegans rock on. Here, pickled onions and sweet line accent earthy sweet potato and crispy tofu is rolled inside of perfectly vinegared sushi rice. The vegan menu has proven so popular that the duo is branching off and establishing a completely vegan, zero waste, catering service and restaurant called The Plot.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menus.

 


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VEGAN RAMEN: BeShock Ramen and Sake Bar
Runner up: Tajima Restaurants

About BeShock
BeShock Ramen and Sake Bar, located in Downtown’s East Village, has received several accolades for its ramen, and now can proudly add San Diego’s Best Vegan Ramen of 2017 to its list! What separates BeShcok from the rest, you may ask? In their own words: “Our secret is we take an extra step to grill the vegetables with garlic and Shio Koji. Koji is a Japanese fermented seasoning that brings out natural umami flavors and add depth in our broth.”
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menus.

About Tajima
Tajima Restaurants has made a name for itself among local vegans as a trusted go-to for vegan ramen. Their vegan ramen is made with a soy-based soup with mixed vegetables, baby spinach, corn, kaiware, cherry tomatoes, deep fried tofu, and sesame seeds, topped with black garlic oil and served with spinach noodles. Tajima has five San Diego locations from Downtown’s East Village to North Park.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menus.

 


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VEGAN DESSERT: Dolce Italian Ice
Runner up: Cinnaholic

About Dolce Italian Ice
Written by Kelly Bone (Instagram / Website)
Serving 24 flavors of vegan Granitaa water-based scoopable frozen dessert similar to sorbet but with a coarser textureDolce Italian Ice has been cooling Pacific Beach goes since 2016. The rainbow of ices can be anchored by a creamy house-made vanilla cashew ice creme under toppings such as Oreos and crushed peanuts. In 2017 the talents of Dolce and Flora Bakeshop united to stock the freezer case with a collection of charming vegan ice creme cakes.
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

About Cinnaholic
Cinnaholic is a gourmet cinnamon roll chain that offers 100% vegan old fashioned rolls and a variety of flavors and toppings. All ingredients are dairy free and egg free. Cinnaholic currently has one San Diego location in Pacific Beach. Check out their flavors and toppings!
Visit their website to learn more and to view their menu.

 


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VEGAN DONUTS: Donut Panic (2016 winner!)
Runner up: Nomad Donuts (2016 runner up!)

About Donut Panic
Donut Panic is located in the Mission Valley/Grantville area. It offers vegan and traditional donuts, with vegan-only donuts on Tuesdays. Donut Panic offers game nights and other fun opportunities for gatherings (and of course, more donuts!).
Visit the Donut Panic Facebook page for more information, and to view the menu.

About Nomad Donuts
Nomad Donuts is located in North Park and offers vegan and traditional donuts in a variety of unique flavors. Nomad also offers coffee and vegan milks.
Visit the Nomad Donuts website to learn more, and to view the menu.

 


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VEGAN BAKED GOODS: Maya’s Cookies
Runner up: Snopel’s Bakeshop

About Maya’s Cookies
Maya’s Cookies has been dubbed San Diego’s best cookies ever — vegan or not. One bite and you’ll definitely agree. You can find Maya’s at several farmers markets throughout San Diego as well as in popular restaurants like Loving Hut Mira Mesa, Nibble Chocolate in Old Town, and Paradise Yogurt in Mission Valley. You can pick up cookies at Mission Square Market, too, and they also accept custom orders!
Visit their website to learn more.

About Snopel’s Bakeshop
Snopel’s is an all-vegan bakeshop in San Diego, supplying vegan treats to several restaurants for resale. They offer unique and thoughtful flavors with complimentary toppings. You’ve got to try these goodies!
Visit their website to learn more.

 


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VEGAN ALCOHOLIC DRINK: Kindred
Runner up: Boochcraft

About Kindred’s drinks
KINDRED is a “vegan death metal” bar located in San Diego’s South Park. It’s well known for its atmosphere and wolf-head sculpture on the wall. It addition to being voted San Diego’s Best Vegan Alcoholic Drink, Kindred offers excellent vegan food–winning the title of Vegan in San Diego’s Best Vegan Brunch and Best Vegan Sandwich in the 2016 contest.
Visit their website to learn more.

About Boochcraft
Kombucha with alcohol! California’s first high-alcohol content kombucha is made right here in San Diego. Boochcraft is a 7% alcohol kombucha made from organic, raw ingredients.
Visit their website to learn more.

 


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LOCALLY BREWED KOMBUCHA: Bambucha Kombucha
Runner up: Boochcraft

About Bambucha Kombucha
Bambucha Kombucha is chef crafted and brewed in San Diego. They offer unique flavors like “Blueberry Tart” and “Mango Masala.” Fresh, organic ingredients are carefully crafted into these delightful, bubbly elixirs.
Visit their website to learn more.

About Boochcraft
Kombucha with alcohol! California’s first high-alcohol content kombucha is made right here in San Diego. Boochcraft is a 7% alcohol kombucha made from organic, raw ingredients.
Visit their website to learn more.