Vaishali A. Patel
Gluten free, Vegan and Vegetarian friendly places to eat in San Diego
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
I have been a vegetarian all of my life and in the 90s and early 2000s it was hard to find good food that was clean and tasty outside of our home. We didn't go out to eat much for that reason.
However things have changed in the recent years. I have been gluten free for 12 years now and beginning of 2021 I became vegan as well. I don't have celiac disease or strong food allergies but do have sensitivities to both dairy and wheat. I can get away with eating a little bit but feel so much better when I don't so I choose to avoid them. Food nowadays can taste super delicious without having gluten or dairy in your diet.
My daughter loves to experiment with food and she has even been making me deserts that are without any processed sugars or these allergens and let me tell you they taste divine. So if you are in the same boat as us, not being able to find good, delicious vegetarian or gluten free foods outside of your home and are in the San Diego area, I say don't hold back.
Try out these wonderful restaurants we love so much.
Now that I have my "favorites" I love having our work meetings there for lunch or dinner and we share ideas while we enjoy the delicious foods. Normally when we go out to eat its always major modification to the menu, hold off on the bun or bread, no cheese, no eggs, and more.
Living in San Diego however where so many people see benefits of avoiding these allergens, we have options now. Here are some of my personal favorite places that I enjoy and I wish to continuing adding to this list so please do share in the comments below your favorite vegetarian friendly, gluten free or vegan restaurant in San Diego so we can continue to grow this list and enjoy clean, yummy foods together.
By far this Vegetarian Thai food restaurant in Universal heights PLUMERIA is our go to. We have guests over we take them there or do take outs. Not everything on the menu is gluten free so be sure to ask your server to specify the options for you. I love the Larb Salad with Beans and my kids love the mock Chicken Satays with peanut sauce.
SUSHI DELI in hillcrest was introduced to us by my brother in law. This place is not completely vegetarian but has so many vegetarian options. If you don't like seaweed in your sushi you can get it with soy paper. You have to specify to make sure no fish sauce or oyster sauce in your food. The crunchy bunny and bee hive rolls are our favorites. You can also get the hot hot shauna without the sauce(not vegetarian) and make your own mayo and sriracha sauce at home.
BUONA FORCHETTA in Golden hills is a great place with lots of options and the sitting outside in the court yard is lovely. There are other fancier Italian places like Il Fornaio in Coronado which is great for ambiance but the vegetarian food options as pricey as they are, not so great. FILIPPI'S PIZZA GROTTO is another good one with gluten free pizza options along with MONA LISA in the little Italy area of San Diego
CASA DE GUADALAJARA in Old town San diego is very authentic and the food is delicious. You can request to have chopped and roasted Jalapeños and onions be added to your dishes. They don't have many vegan options but you can work around it by avoiding cheese as much as you can. ON THE BORDER is generic but for some reason, I like them in Mission valley area.
There are many fancy Indian restaurants around San Diego being catered to non desi people and those places are all about the gorgeous ambiance and dishes and decor. You want authentic desi foods, head over to the Miramar or little India town in San Diego. Two of our favorites are SURATI FARSAN (mainly for snack or bite food) and RASRAJ for all punjabi foods. These are smaller restaurants. ASHOKA in the same area also has good punjabi food and they can make it as customized as you would like and this one you can dine in together comfortably in larger groups. If you want to stay near the downtown area and want the pretty decor and good food then try CURRYOSITY. We loved their food and decor both. Their Nimbupaani is like having masala soda off the street cart in India.
Recently my daughter introduced me to THE VILLAGE in El Cajon and this place was really really good. I mean its a blend of Mexican and Japanese cuisine and its all vegan. Has many gluten free options and even the drinks were so good. Normally at Mexican restaurants chips are salty but their chips have no salt and the salsa is super good. EVE in Encinitas is another wonderful vegan restaurant, the decor is fun and funky and also the area, the street you can walk around on and the food is really good. Of course before any of these vegan places came to be our favorite was and I still love their food is CAFE GRATITUDE its a sister restaurant of the famous GRACIAS MADRE in Los Angeles area. So many fun options to order from and love their menu and way of using affirmations in your order "I AM_____".
Now let's hear about your favorite vegetarian and gluten friendly places to eat in San Diego. Please share your recommendations in the comments!