By Paige Newman, Exclusive to VegDining.com
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San Diego brings to mind the sunny coast and thus, seafood. Surprisingly, it’s also becoming a wonderful place for vegetarians to live and visit.
In addition to excellent restaurants, the city is famous for its seaside attractions, such as gorgeous, ritzy La Jolla – a superb spot for kayaking and splashing by the cove. Mission Beach is fun for roller coasters and people-watching, and Pacific Beach is a great walking spot.
Further south, Ocean Beach claims the longest pier on the West Coast. It’s also a haven for herbivores, with the vegetarian People’s Organic Food Market and Stephanie’s Organic Bakery (vegan). Rancho’s Mexican restaurant is extremely veg-friendly as well.
In central San Diego, international cuisine abounds, from Thai to Persian and Ethiopian. All-vegetarian palatepleasers: Spread and Veg-N-Out in North Park, Earth Food hot dog stand in Hillcrest, and Jyoti Bihanga in Normal Heights (which is an antique hunter’s paradise).
Downtown’s historic Gaslamp District has an exciting nightlife, many European-style restaurants with outdoor patios, and – a few blocks to the east – Pokez, a Mexican restaurant with funky décor and multiple vegetarian choices.
Balboa Park boasts beautiful Spanish-style museums and also the World Beat Center, which serves Caribbean and African veggie food during its multi-cultural events. Along the west edge of the park is a prime stop for vegheads: Kung Food Express Café, which features a vegan drive thru!
And if you’re up for a drive, don’t miss Sipz Fusion Café, an Asian vegetarian place in Clairemont; or raw food specialists Cilantro Live in Carlsbad (also in Lemon Grove and Chula Vista). Veg-friendly Ki’s in Cardiff by the Sea offers ocean views and ample seating for large groups.
Dining at home? San Diego has several daily farmers’ markets. Also, be sure to visit Rancho’s vegetarian store in North Park (with its Mexican restaurant next door); the aforementioned People’s Co-op; and various locations for Henry’s, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods. In Lakeside, raw food pioneer David Wolfe operates Sunfood Nutrition (formerly Nature’s First Law) retail store. Also worth a stop for natural products: Environgentle in Encinitas, and All Vegan in University Heights.
Paige Newman has written and volunteered for many vegetarian organizations since choosing to go vegetarian at age four. She has lived in San Diego for over three years.
This article was originally printed in VegDining.com. Photos courtesy of Paige Newman.