There are a number of reasons why you might need to locate a high-quality vegetarian or vegan restaurant. Perhaps you choose to go meat-free a few days a week to reduce your overall environmental impact and improve your health. Maybe you’re a practicing vegetarian or vegan, or maybe you have someone in your life whom you care about who doesn’t eat animal products. Whatever the reason, finding good vegetarian food can prove difficult, even in a city like San Diego.
First of all, not everything that doesn’t have meat or cheese on it is immediately vegetarian. Soups, desserts, salads, sauces and even dishes like beans or rice can include meat broth, lard, butter or other products that a strict vegetarian or vegan can’t enjoy. Sometimes, chefs or cooks simply don’t treat vegetarian dishes with proper respect, using a meat-contaminated cutting board or not changing gloves or washing hands after preparing a steak. Any of these issues could derail someone’s earnest attempts at vegetarianism and veganism.
Not only would accidentally consuming these items result in a feeling of remorse or guilt, it could even trigger digestive upset if your friend’s body is no longer acclimated to animal proteins. That’s certainly not something you want to be responsible for, especially if you were the one who selected the restaurant.
Thankfully, we’ve taken the guessing out of finding a great place to enjoy a meat-free meal. There are many fantastic vegetarian restaurants in San Diego. We’ve found four options in Kearny Mesa.
Lil’ Farmers Cafe
Location: 4240 Kearny Mesa Road [Map]
Hours: Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you’re looking for wholesome and fresh foods, search no farther than Lil’ Farmers Cafe. This bright and modern space has a surprisingly thorough menu and even offers catering for your special events. They serve fresh juice and smoothies, as well as a host of healthful vegetarian dishes.
To cater to those who can’t keep the bagel to the morning, they serve breakfast all day. In addition to an avocado toast flatbread served with pesto and feta, they make an egg muffin frittata and a range of tasty breakfast bowls. Do you want a little yogurt or an acai berry and peanut butter bowl with granola, banana and honey? You can find it here.
They want you to enjoy your meal, so you can add a whole bunch of fresh produce for free. Options include baby spinach, baby kale, red onions, mushrooms, green peppers, cucumbers and jalapenos, as well as tomatoes and sunflower seeds. For $0.50, you can add avocado or one of many cheeses to a dish. While their offerings include a lot that caters to vegetarians, you can also add bacon, chicken, pepperoni, tuna salad, turkey or roast beef for $1. Try a Panini, wrap, grain bowl or homemade salad, followed by a fresh coffee or a smoothie.
Location: 9119 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite G [Map]
Hours: Monday-Friday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Closed Saturday and Sunday
Specializing in Halal street food, Tahini has plenty of tempting options for the vegetarian and meat-eater alike! Vegetarians can enjoy freshly made falafel, a tasty fried delight made from fava beans, herbs, veggies and spices, served with Tahini sauce. There is also chicken and steak shawarma, featuring all natural, marinated, Halal meats.
You can have your base, the meats or falafel, in a bowl, a salad or a pita. Each comes topped with an assortment of veggies. You can add one of their incredible sauces, including Sriracha Tahini, Cucumber Yogurt, Garlic Sauce and BBQ Tahini. They also make falafel a la carte and serve both fried cheese sticks and fries topped with feta cheese, bell peppers, red onion, Kalamata olives, pepperoncinis and your favorite sauce.
Vegans will be happy to note that both the falafel and the hummus bowl served here are fully vegan. There are plenty of sauces for whatever sort of meal you’re feeling. You can also personalize options by adding extra veggies to a dish, including pickled turnips. They also serve whole pita bread, cumato salad, French fries and rice as side dishes. Who said avoiding meat had to result in eating only boring foods?
Location: 4619 Convoy Street, Suite A3 [Map]
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Closed Saturday
With a mission statement that focuses on healthy lifestyles instead of diet restrictions, Cafe Stems has a delicious focus on vegetarian and vegan dishes. While they certainly offer plenty of staple dishes, don’t expect your experience or your food to be bland or underwhelming when you visit.
Unlike other eateries on this list, there isn’t any meat here, so you don’t have the option of adding a side of bacon or chicken to your salad. You certainly won’t walk away feeling like you need a protein fix, however.
Their tofu bowl has rice, two kinds of cabbage, carrots, edamame, sesame seeds, nori flakes, carrots and cucumbers, all topped with spicy mayo. If you’re more into fruit bowls, they certainly have you covered. There’s the Peach, Please, which has hemp and chia seeds, strawberries, dried cranberries, granola, bananas, apple juice, pineapples and peaches. Their Almen craze is made with almond butter and almond milk, hemp and chia seeds, sliced almonds, bananas, blueberries and granola with honey.
Happy Friday! ✨ Trying to save money this year? Balling on a budget? We have our Match Maker combo option! You get an Açai of Relief bowl and a not-so small side salad! (of your choice) 🥗 Perfect for 2, or for 1 if you want more options! 🤗🌱💙💚 . . . #nobaddays #goodays #goodvibes #doubletap #healthyfood #healthyeating #healthylifestyle #salads #wraps #smoothies #acaibowls #eatsandiego #tastingsandiego #yelpsandiego #topfoodnews #sandiegofood #foodiesofsd #convoydistrict #love #happy #brainfood #nutritious #delicious #drivingmenuts #positiviteasalad #matchmaker #combo #onthego #convenient #happyfriday
You can also enjoy wraps with anything from curry dressing to chopped eggs. Want something healthy to go? They make juices and smoothies that will leave you smiling.
Location: 7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite 115 [Map]
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Closed Sunday Price: $$
Whether you’re craving organic coffee, scrambled eggs or raw juices, Picasso Naturals has you covered. Since 1996, this eatery has been catering to foodies with an eye for healthy dishes. While they certainly have plenty of veggies in house, they will make dishes with everything from salmon and shrimp to turkey and bacon bits. From wraps and salads to sandwiches that stand on their own, Picasso Naturals has an extensive menu that has something for everyone.
They are also a great place to visit if you want a memorable veggie burger. They serve a jalapeno veggie burger, topped with onions, avocado, jalapeno peppers, lettuce, tomato, pepper jack cheese, chipotle sauce, egg-free mayonnaise all on a whole wheat bun. If you want a vegan veggie burger with avocado and sprouts, as well as vegan cheese, they make that, too!
Their raw juices are an exciting option for those hoping to optimize their overall nutrition. From the digestive specials, made from carrot and spinach, to the potassium broth, featuring carrot, celery, parsley and spinach, they’ve got plenty of healthy juices. You can even order shots of wheat grass juice for $1.50 each. As an eatery with a focus on breakfast and lunch, they serve up oatmeal, bagel and plenty of egg dishes, as well.