These restaurants are for omnivores, but many offer vegan options on and off menu.
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, at restaurants that cater to all diets
Known for their artisan juices, the cafe offers some vegan items, including a soup of the day (ask for the bread dry or with coconut oil). Their Peanut Butter Cup smoothie (no honey please!) is aces.
Known for their sushi (and their long wait times for a table - no reservations!), Arigato makes it easy to keep vegan. Their Japanese eggplant, Soba salad, and a vegetable roll on the patio makes for a perfect date night.
Brasil Arts Cafe has some vegan salads, but I go for the acai bowls. I like the Floripa bowl (no honey, please) or the Bahia smoothie if I’m in a hurry.
You’re gonna wait in line. Just succumb to it. Get the cauliflower tacos, no crema, with extra tortillas and you can turn one taco into three! They’re basically baja-style vegan fish tacos. Perfection.
Blessedly, they have a special vegan menu with many delicious offerings. We usually split a samosa and an order of their vegan delight combo.
The Massaman curry with extra vegetables instead of protein, spicy eggplant, and garlic green beans make for perfect Thai comfort food. Ask for no oyster sauce, no fish sauce, “vegan please!”
The Lark is jam-packed and crazy popular for good reason. I go for a cocktail and their popcorn (always vegan, but I always ask anyway just in case that’s the day the siren song of Parmagianno calls out to the kitchen) and an order of the Brussels sprouts (“No fish sauce, please”). There is always a vegan roasted veg dish on or off the menu, and their family-style servings make for easy sharing.
The Natural Cafe (several locations around socal) always have a vegan soup with a hunk of bread for like $5 a bowl, which is a fantastic bargain. I take advantage of my inner When Harry Met Sally and order very specifically: I love their tostada salad (no sour cream, tahini dressing) and Buddha burrito (no cheese, no sour cream, no rice, extra veggies, ranchero sauce on the inside).
Saigon offers a dedicated vegetarian menu, and I always get the V26 curried noodle vegetable soup, especially for friends who get hit with the flu.
Sama Sama kindly offers a specialized vegan menu with several of their regular menu items sans animal products. We always get the gado gado (their version of a warm Indonesian salad that I basically lived off of when I was traveling through Bali in 2017) and Brussels sprouts (though The Lark’s are better, srynotsry, I take my sprouts very seriously). They also have a broccolini tofu dish that I sometimes get without the tofu (“extra vegetables please”).