I have spent the last 6 years exploring and eating at all of San Diego's best vegan restaurants in hopes of finding my favorite. Many opinions and taste buds may differ, but what I look for to consider something "the best" is if they are 100% vegan and organic but also know flavor, texture, and bring me more than just the usual quinoa bowls or salad. There are three restaurants making my list that encompass all of my main criteria and the only places I would spend your hard earned money eating at if visiting the San Diego, CA area.
My first and favorite restaurant in all of the United States, is Peace Pies, located in both Ocean Beach and Encinitas CA. This is a fully raw, organic, vegan, gluten and soy free restaurant, meaning the menu is made up of 100% uncooked, plant based foods. The fact that the menu ranges from $5-20 truly amazes me considering the quality of foods being served here and the length of time it takes to make all of the raw vegan crusts, crackers, shells, sauces, and fillings. I have eaten at some of the fanciest restaurants all around the world, and I'm here to say, that Peace Pies is serving a 5 star, Michelin quality meal at any time, on any day. I have personally toured the kitchen and can say with absolute certainty that their foods are the highest quality available and they are using the best equipment in the raw vegan scene with an added amazingly creative, for the earth, chef, JP. I usually stick to ordering whatever is on their special menu of the day, knowing it will have the most flavor profile of their dishes, but slowly I am working my way through their entire menu. Know that if you are just starting to eat healthy, or just exploring vegan restaurants, that you will feel fulfilled, satiated, and leave Peace Pies with extremely flavorful tastes in your mouth.
Pictured here is their special "Pepperoni Pizza" and "Burger."
Next up is Trilogy Sanctuary, located in La Jolla, CA. Trilogy is a regular weekly staple in my life, whether it be to attend one of their amazing workshops, Full Moon Gatherings, Open Mic Nights, yoga classes, or to fuel my husband and I's cooked dinner needs. Trilogy is not fully raw like Peace Pies but they do stick to 100% organic, vegan, non gmo, soy and gluten free principles. Trilogy is bringing community to an eatery like never before seen in my 29 year life. They bring people together from all creative and cultural backgrounds offering up a safe (and beautiful ocean view) space to explore your artistic juices all while serving some of the most flavorful foods I've ever eaten. If you ask me to choose between the famed Cafe Gratitude, or Trilogy, I would give the flavor and texture award to Trilogy hands down, although when asking a friend, Pete about the two, they report it's like "sweet potatoes and yams" since Gratitude is more of a sit down experience. Two of my absolute favorite dishes to consume on a cooler San Diego day or night, would be the Enticing Eggplant dish or the Trilogy Burger with added eggplant bacon and avocado pictured below.
My final vegan restaurant recommendation comes from a place I have a new found love affair with. One of those restaurants you keep hearing about over and over through the years and finally visit to have your mind and taste buds blown. You see, my usual visit to Encinitas involved a stop at the Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar, here I was thinking this was the best I had to eat, but I was always slightly underwhelmed by the flavor at Lotus and the fact they include non vegan items on their menu. Low and behold, Eve Encinitas was down the street all along with their 100% vegan, organic, and plant based menu that has since blown Lotus out of the vegan waters for me. I actually can't wait to go back and keep trying the entire menu, plus the interior of this restaurant is amazing and a place to get work done, have conversations with friends or people watch. The flavor layers of this Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza has me wanting more, ASAP. Pictured below is their Acai Bowl, Cauliflower Pizza, and Jamaican Me Crazy Burger.