I’ve traveled around the world as a vegan and had some of the best meals of my life by googling “vegan restaurant” and walking to whatever restaurant is closest (looking at you, Mango in Bangkok). While there are only a few dedicated vegan restaurants in my hometown of Santa Barbara, most places are amenable to catering to a vegan diet.
I avoid soy, so most of my favorite dishes are veggie-based. I try not to eat foods that “replace” non-vegan foods because for me, the point of eating vegan is rooted in kindness, and highly processed soy products make me fart, which is kind neither to myself, my boyfriend, nor my dog.
You can learn how to order vegan at any restaurant here, but you’ve gotta be somewhat reasonable when you choose establishments to patronize. I mean, you’re not gonna walk into Lily’s Tacos and ask for a vegan ojo taco.
Here are a few sure things, some of my favorite local vegan dishes, starting with the restaurants that are exclusively and strictly vegan:
Everything that the Juice Ranch has to offer is vegan. I love their Greens n Ginger juice, give the Apollo to many of my clients recovering from acute injury, and their turmeric chocolate chip cookie is a sweet treat.
A dedicated vegan restaurant, we always order the hummus. The menu changes regularly, but we recently hosed their farro bolognese, pear & gorgonzola flatbread, and the wild mushroom tostada. They use Juice Ranch juices for their cocktails, but I usually curl up with a glass of champagne on one of their couches.