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So here it is folks… My giant list of all things food in San Diego! The Captain and I are passionate about food and we pride ourselves on being the people you text when you are looking for a new spot to eat! Note: I should say I am a vegan, so every single restaurant on the list, while it might not be a vegan establishment, does offer vegan options! But I assure you, this is not just a list for veggies!!! In fact, out of the 26 spots listed, only 5 are entirely vegan or plant based! Meat eaters, rejoice! I have been compiling this list for weeks!! I am actually salivating after editing this post… I need some tacos… or noodles… or pizza… or falafel… or sheesh, I don't know, for love of GOD GET ME SOME FOOD! Best Coffee Drinks: Cafe Gratitude
Weird answer, I know, but the coffee beverages at CG are among the most original and delicious I’ve ever tried. Their Mocha!? Shut. Your. Face. Their teas and other libations are equally tasty!!
Best Breakfast: Coffee Cup
Not only is the best breakfast in San Diego, but also my favorite restaurant. The rosemary potatoes will change your life. I order the Papas Loco, no diary, add tofu, with corn tortillas. EVERY. TIME. I ate here the day I went into labor and I’m pretty sure it was the jalapeños that did the trick... We eat here... A LOT. Needless to say, the servers have my order memorized and I love them and I will miss them.
Best Pancakes: Moncai Vegan
These pancakes will change your life. Change it. The Captain stands firm that these are the BEST pancakes he's ever eaten in his life!! HIS ENTIRE LIFE!!! You non-vegans will be like WHAT THE HELL!?! I don't know how it's possible to get such giant, fluffy pancakes with no milk or eggs… I don't know how the chef does it, but he does and it is spectacular.
Best Vegan Breakfast: OB's People Co-op
Not only is this the best value in town, these biscuits and gravy are the things dreams are made of! With an entirely vegetarian market beneath, this small kitchen whips up some tasty and simple food that will leave you satisfied and happy! I wish I lived closer to it because I would eat there daily… seriously, I'd do it.
Best Sushi: Ebisu Sushi Lounge
I love this place. We found this when we first moved out because they had a small, but interesting vegan sushi list, but we quickly became regulars. Their fish is always fresh and prepared in unique ways! The place is rarely packed, but always buzzing and they serve food way past your bed time. [special shout out to Little Tokyo in Carmel Mountain, this place makes me happy. Nothing super special, but it's yummy]
Best Cocktails: WhisknLadle
Fancy and unique cocktails in a fancy and unique setting. Boom.
Best Chinese: Golden City
So after years of looking for a decent Chinese restaurant we stumbled upon Golden City and it is authentic and delish! With a completely separate veggie menu, it was a clear winner for me! Their salted garlic string beans are a thing of beauty!! Note: the portions are MASSIVE and definitely for sharing!
Best Döner: The Kebab Shop
Now, maybe you are thinking, come again!?! But if you have never had a döner you are in for quite a thrill! It's like a Mediterranean burrito and it tastes like heaven! I order the falafel diner, no garlic sauce, add spicy hummus, add fries
or rice depending on my mood. [3/19/18 I've been informed that the rice is loaded with butter. True Vegans, skip the rice!] The wrap is soft, almost like a thin naan bread… It is delicious! There are now locations all over San Diego, so no excuses get thee to The Kebab Shop!
Best Salad: NaPizza
The superfood me salad with tahini dressing is literally a thing of the gods!! Their pizza and [always vegan] soup are both magic, but I don't stray from my favorite salad! With locations in Little Italy, Hillcrest, and 4S you are covered!
Cafe Gratitude makes the list twice. I've eaten at the LA eatery a handful of times and at the recently opened San Diego locale 23,293,090 times. Slight exeggeration. I love love love everything on the menu. It's vegan plant based goodness and I'm gonna miss them like WHOA. And then there's Trilogy, a newer find, located in La Jolla on a rooftop with angels and fairies. OR flying aerobatic yogis. Close enough. The menu is small, but heavenly. I love their buckwheat crepes and the nachos!! OH THE NACHOS!!! Both of these spots are winners, for vegans and non-vegans alike!
Best Thai: Amarin Thai
My buddy Christina took me to this restaurant years ago and I fell... hard. Their Tom Yum Soup is AMAZING. They have an entire separate veggie menu that’s even fish sauce free! And good news North County, Siam Nara in Mira Mesa and Nok in Scripps Ranch are pretty much the same menu from owner Suree! Winning.
So Luigi's was an early find, after watching a San Diego episode of triple D Guy Fieri swore he'd eat it off of a flip flop, we had to try it. To my delight, I found out that they will sub vegan cheese and even make vegan calzones. The calzones are AH-mazing. But even more surprising is their cheese-less salad pizza. This pizza is the bomb. And dude, all of their cheesy pizzas look amazing!! Oh, oh and when I was very pregnant and wanted to get another slice, the so sweet pizza maker gave me a slice on the house. Two thumbs up. A more recent find is San Diego Brewing! This spot has a crazy amount of vegan offerings along side all of your typical pub grub. They have vegan hot wings AND vegan pizza!!! Who knew!? It is the lightest crust and I just can't say enough good things. The marinara is delish and the toppings are fresh. It's so yummy.
Best Italian: Bencotto
Yummy, fresh Italian food in the chicest building. I love this place. Their arrabbiata sauce and zucchini soup really make me happy. A newbie that I’ve only tried twice is Civico1845, but it is really shaping up to be a winner! An entire authentic vegan menu, um dreams coming true.
Best Indian: Delhi Kitchen
This is a hole in the wall if ever there was one, but Delhi Kitchen in Carmel Mountain is a killer find! It's super inexpensive and the family who runs it is so nice!! Their Chana Masala is spicy, full of flavor, and oh-so-good.
Best Ramen: Underbelly
Holy. Giant. Bowls. of. Soup. Batman. This spot is legit. They now have 2 locations, but if you can try out the original in Lil Italy it is totally worth it for the experience. The veggie ramen with truffle oil is lip smacking good!
Best Tacos: Don Carlos Taco Shop
One of the first joints we found when arriving in San Diego. Don Carlos is a hole in the wall if ever there was one! The owner is full of personality and with a tag line like “what would Jesus eat?” this place has to rock! And with multiple vegan options this joint is sure to please. We used to pick up food and bring it to the cliffs and watch the sunset with the rich people! Highly suggest it!!
Best Frozen Yogurt: Paradise Yogurt
Best vegan yogurt ever!!! They always have at least 2 vegan flavors and it constantly rotates. Their toppings are genius and they have the chillest employees. Love this spot.
Best Vegan Junk Food: Veggie Grill
The Buffalo Bomber has comforted me many, many a night... or day... or mid-morning. I ate here, nearly, twice a week when I was pregnant. The whole menu is awesome. And I'm gonna tell you right now, you will be surprised that vegan "chicken" tastes, well, pretty much like chicken!
Best Spot for a Group who can't Decide: True Foods
This is the perfect restaurant for a group of folks who just can't get their shit together. It's deceptively healthy, but will please a variety of palates! You can get a bison burger, a seasonal squash pizza[amazing], or [my favorite] the Mediterranean chopped salad. There's an option for the gluten intolerant, vegan, or meat eater in your group. And on top of all of those reasons, simply put, it's a delish and thoughtful menu!
Best Meal with a View: Cordiano Winery
Our amazing neighbors suggested this spot a few years ago and we have been frequent visitors ever since. It's nestled atop some impressive hills in Escondido, but you feel like you are in another world. The Italian owners are the sweetest and their pizza is out of control yummy! The wine is okay, but what you are really there for is the view! I
could have sat there for hours!
Best Beach Front: Ki's Restaurant at the Beach
I love this spot in Cardiff. It's the utmost in chill dining spots! We love to go for breakfast and I just love all of their healthy options and there is nothing that can beat the view!!
Best Date Night Spot: Alexanders on 30th
Now there isn't much for a vegan to eat, but the few dishes you can have are totally delish and worth it for the wonderful and sexy atmosphere! It just feels… romantic!? The truffle mac n cheese is a favorite among my friends!
Best Brewery: Ballast Point
We’ve been to a few breweries and this is both mine and The Captain’s favorite. It’s not as touristy as Stone, but is on the larger scale. But with a super tasty menu, DELICIOUS beer, and a beautiful locale. It’s a winner.
I’ll start by saying I had a wonderful and hilarious post completely finished when Wordpress screwed me over and deleted it forever. Now I am rushing to rewrite everything with the same humor and detail in the 6 minutes I have before Mohawk wakes up. I hate you Wordpress, go eff yourself.
I am not an entertainer. Every time we move I find myself uttering the words, “oh this is a great space to entertain.” Why?! I have no idea. I am never going to throw a party. I like small gatherings 3-5 people. I can cook a really nice meal, get a few bottles of really nice wine... I love cooking lunch for friends. I just think small, I suppose. So I’m not entirely sure what enticed me to throw a “yay we aren’t homeless/surprise The Captain birthday” party. But alas, we did it and I’m pretty sure it was a success.
The Food. Let me start by saying I am not a meat eater. Like, I’m the opposite of a meat eater. Now I’m not an ethical vegan or at least I didn’t start out that way, so I don’t refuse meat in my house or berate a waiter if my falafel is fried in the same oil as something meaty... I’d rather not have my food in contact with meat, but I try to remain reasonable. I would rather take the hit and leave someone with a positive memory of a vegan than some cray person who made them feel like crap. I like to keep an open dialogue about the way I eat. Anywho, I’ve lingered too long here. You get it. Well, I decided on a taco party and scoured Pinterest for the easiest taco recipes and moseyed over to the grocery store. I sailed through the veggies, beans, salsa. I didn’t even bat an eyelash at the cheese and sour cream. But then... The meat counter. Oh. MY. VOM. Beef!? Yikes. I literally haven’t purchased raw beef in over 13 years... I was pacing back and forth for at least 15 minutes. I googled “does brisket have another name?” I had to finally ask a stranger to help me find brisket. He looked at me like I asked him to help me find Narnia. He did, however, eventually point me to a brisket. A 7+ pound brisket. Ew. I tossed it in my cart wrapped in plastic away from anything I would be eating... I moved on to the chicken, which wasn’t as foreign, I ate chicken up until about 6 years ago... I quickly eyed what I wanted and picked it up only to find it was covered in chicken juice. CHICKEN JUICE ALL OVER MY HANDS. I started looking around desperately for a paper towel or hand soap, then I started dancing about like I was going to pee myself. I eventually calmed down and double bagged that shit like a boss. As I was walking away I heard a women say to me, “chicken is so gross, isn’t it?” as she hauled a few cartons into her cart. You have no idea lady. NO. IDEA. Now luckily The Captain put the meat in the crock pot for me and shredded it, so all I had to do was fill the crockpots with veggies, veggie stock, and whatever else they called for that was veggie friendly. Everyone said the food was amazing and I am inclined to believe them because it was almost entirely gone at the end of the night. I made this chicken, this beef, this rice, and this bean recipe as my staple items!
The Booze. Since I had requested that people surprise The Captain with a boozy delight and an entertaining note, I knew we weren’t going to need as much liquor, so we opted to keep our drink list small yet plentiful. We made this delicious sangria via my food spirt animal the Minimalist Baker. We had Mexican beer, Mexican coke, and bottled water all in galvanized tubs along with cups of sliced limes. I would have photos, but all of our guests were ridiculously on time and I was barely able to snap shots of the food before it was destroyed.
The Fun. We rented a few lawn games which everyone seemed to enjoy! We have a huge yard so it was perfect! Oh and the piñata... that’s right I bought a monster truck piñata and filled it with mini bottles of booze... because I love my husband and this is ‘merica where you can do whatever the hell you want!! We also had a cake. An ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins!?!? Who the hell am I!?!?
The Drunks. Well the party started at 4, people were pleasantly buzzed and The Captain had completely succumbed to the dark side around or before 8:30. I was surprised to find the next day that even the “pleasantly buzzed” were actually closer to the black out/vom the night away drunk than I had thought. They just hide it better than old man river, I suppose. I think it was an exciting evening, even sober people were locking themselves in our guest bathroom. Par-TAY!!!! We put The Captain down for bed around 9 and people started filing out around 10, I had the intention of kicking everyone out around 10:30. What?! I was gonna be up by 6 the next morning. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.
The Hostest with the Mostest. I will say, it’s not easy to entertain for a large number of people. Cooking, cleaning, introducing, and trying to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves is hard!!! I didn’t have one drink all night long, but I really did have fun. It’s absolutely exhausting, but so gratifying to see people talking and laughing and having a good time!!! I finished all the dishes and cleaning before 11 and I definitely ate 4 or more gluten free/vegan chocolate chip cookies, in bed, while looking back at photos of the party. And I’m happy to report that Mohawk went down around 7 around stayed asleep through drunkards slamming the bathroom door, yelling over FaceTime, and Mariachi music blasting. That’s my boy. But I think we will pass on that massive first birthday party... Momma’s partied out.
So this is a take on one of my favorite recipes by my dietitian hero, Kimberly Snyder. I definitely put my spin on it, added some more veggies and some delish brown rice noodles, but it's still healthy and totally filling, warm, and comforting. Who wants to make me some, like, right now!?Serves 2 hungry-hungry hippos
4 cups veggie stock
1 can organic, full fat coconut milk, [helpful tip: Always shake the can before opening]
3 tablespoons green curry paste
3 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
3-5 baby bok choy, chopped and cleaned well
1 japanese eggplant, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup sting beans, trimmed and chopped into inch pieces
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 packed of thin brown rice noodles
1 lime juice/zest
Optional: Garnish jalapeño, bean sprouts, thai basil, sambal oelek, or whatever your heart desires.
Saute eggplant and mushrooms with coconut oil. Cook until soft. Mix coconut milk, tamari, and curry paste and add to eggplant and mushrooms. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
Cook noodles via package instructions while soup simmers. I like to keep the noodles separate because I HATE soggy noodles.
Add beans and bok choy for the last 5 minutes or earlier if you like softer veggies. Finish with lime juice/zest, and green onions. Then just ladle soup over a pile of delish noodles.
Stuff your face.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am the luckiest girl alive because I have brilliant friends and family! After I had Rocco my bestie from 3rd grade, yes you read that right 3rd grade, came to visit! While she was only here for a few days her stay was so insanely helpful it still makes me cry to think about. Lucky for me she and her family of 7 [did I mention my bestie is also a superhero!?] often eat raw and vegan so with just what was in my fridge/pantry she made the most delectable dinner I had in ages. And because the cravings don't stop after you have your nugget I wanted it again and again, so I did my best to recreate her awesome meal! What I love about this bowl is that you can keep everything in the fridge and just throw it together when you are hungry! There are a few components, but I swear it is so quick and easy, soon you'll be craving it too!! [The Greens] Romaine [chopped]
Avocado Dressing [Avocado, pinch of salt, juice from 1 lemon, minced garlic if you have time]
Mash avocado until it's guacamole then toss the lettuce in the mixture, instant dressing!
1 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups water or veggie broth
1 can of black beans, strained and rinsed
Pinch o salt
Either cook quinoa, liquid, and salt like rice or throw into the rice maker and press on. Add the beans to the cooked quinoa.
Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Zucchini, Red Onion. Chopped nice and thick.
Toss in a pan with some olive oil or water to sauté. You only need to toss them around for a just a few minutes. You want them still crunchy and fresh tasting. Toss in a pinch of salt and black pepper.
1 cup of raw walnuts
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of cumin and chili powder, optional
Toss in the walnuts, paste, salt, and optional ingredients in a food processor. Start slowly adding the evoo. You don't want it too oily. Pulse until it looks like the texture of taco meat. Done.
Now it's time to layer your salad. Add your greens, then quinoa, then veggies, and top with your taco meat!! This dish is magical and super healthy.
So I've wanted to make these "wings" for a while now and at a recent wifey event I decided to try it out. I based my recipe off of A Simply Raw Life's recipe found on Pinterest. I kept pretty much everything the same, but I did switch up the dipping sauce. Let me tell you, this was a MASSIVE hit. Veggies and non-veggies alike were stuffing their faces with these things!! I mean the outside was spicy and crunchy and inside was soft and delicious. I really seriously can't say enough amazing things about these things!! I think football season is getting ready to start soon [right!?] and these would be perfect even for the manliest crowd! I can't wait to make them for The Captain. Awesome for any get together or even a quick and yummy dinner. Cauliflower
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 cup buffalo sauce, I used the Trader Joe's
2 tablespoons of earth balance, melted
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix milk, flour, garlic powder in a bowl and then add the cauliflower and coat all of the pieces. Place evenly on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven for 25ish minutes until good and crunchy. Mix hot sauce and melted earth balance and pour all over cauliflower. Pop back into the oven for 5 minutes. They taste amazing right out of the oven. Proceed to stuff face.
1 box of silken tofu
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
Juice of 1-2 lemons [I like it with more lemon]
Toss all ingredients in a blender and pop into the fridge for at least an hour.