I wasn’t expecting to be writing this article as I’m a pretty simple guy when it comes to food. Oats for breakfast will do for me.

But as a vegan, I did end up eating at a few vegan restaurants in San Francisco, as well as some that catered for vegans so figured this may help a few of you.

San Francisco is vegan-friendly in general, but not on the scale I was expecting.

1. The Flying Falafel: A Solid Vegan Takeaway Spot For Quick Lunch

1051 Market St, San Francisco | The Flying Falafel | +1 415-964-1003

the flying falafel pita pocket

Half eaten food…yummy.

The Flying Falafel got a visit as it’s a tradition for me to eat a falafel sandwich every time we (I support the Canterbury Bulldogs) win a match. After winning on a Friday, it was a Sunday when I went falafel hunting and with many of the falafel places closed in the Financial District area, I ended up at The Flying Falafel while exploring Berkeley, but they also have a branch Downtown.

the flying falafel store

Inside The Berkeley branch of The Flying Falafel

The menu is simple and the person behind the counter was happy to make suggestions given it was our first visit there.

I ended up getting the Flying Falafel (spicy) Pita Pocket with all of the veggies and split the combo meal with my friend. For less than $10 the falafel was solid if not a little dry which I guess you could expect at a fast food spot. The pocket was jam-packed with veggies, and I can’t remember what sauce I had but I do remember getting a little bit messy while eating it. The fries were awesome though, really did save the meal.

eating falafel

celebrating the 5th win of the season

Would I go back? On my next visit to San Francisco, I won’t be craving The Flying Falafel. But if you’re looking for a quick and easy vegan meal in San Francisco that won’t break the bank, this is a solid option.

2. Ike’s: Awesome For Lots Of Vegan Sandwiches

901 Polk St, San Francisco | Ike’s Website | +1 415-351-1972

I had Ike’s when at a friends place one night while playing Jeopardy (I’m the worst). They knew I was vegan and knowing Ike’s had lots of vegan options (and that they do delivery) they were awesome and we had that for dinner.

Note, the photo is another vegan sandwich from Ike’s, I didn’t take a snap of mine!

I decided on the Vegansaures. Best idea ever! It came with marinated artichoke Hearts, mushrooms, and vegan cheese. Not a whole lot more to say, that it was a great tasting sandwich with good texture, . Slightly on the high side for price but we all love to support a local sammy shop right?

The menu varies from store to store, but with over a dozen vegan sandwich options at the SF branch, it’s a coin flip between here and The Flying Falafel as to what has the better value (Ike’s was nicer, but 30-100% higher in price).

3. Pena Pachamama: Best Lasagna Event

1630 Powell St, San Francisco | PachamamaCenter.org | +1 415-646-0018

pena pachamama pizza

The pizza!

pena pachamama meal

The lasagna is 10x better than it looks!

pena pachamama dining room

All to ourselves

Located in North Beach I assumed this was an Italian restaurant. It’s actually based around South American culture in the decor, food, service, and entertainment.

Going early on a Monday evening (5.30~) isn’t exactly the peak time for dining so it was no surprise we were the only ones in the restaurant. The service was fine but they missed an opportunity to wow us with an amazing experience.

There was two of us and weren’t too hungry so shared the lasagna and half of the vegan mozzarella pizza.

The 100% vegan menu (with lots of raw options) is easy to understand and there is a big selection of raw food.

The lasagna comes with organic ricotta, gluten-free pasta (from Italy) and salad. It looks pretty ordinary in the photo, but I have to say the ricotta was actually amazing…the flavour was epic (even by non-vegan standards)! I haven’t had too many lasagnas in the last five years, but this one was probably the best of all time.

The pizza, meh. I can’t tell you what was lacking, not enough love? Was boring and I definitely wouldn’t order it again.

I would come back here for the lasagna during a live performance. That’s when the place really comes to live it would appear (there is a cover charge) on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (check the calendar).

Fun fact: This is the same building where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe had their wedding dinner.

4. The Lucky Creation Vegetarian Restaurant: A+

854 Washington St, San Francisco | Lucky Creation on Table Hero | +1 415-989-0818

lucky creation eggplant dish

Eggplant with Spicy Sauce Over Rice

chinatown vegetarian

Deluxe Mixed Vegetables Chow Mein

budget vegan eats in san francisco

Backleft is the roast duck with tender green over rice

While browsing on HappyCow for places near my accommodation in North Beach this place was the second closest spot after Pena Pachamama’s. I’m always a big fan of vegetarian Chinese restaurants like this, and this didn’t disappoint at all.

The restaurant is small and cozy, but late on weekday (8.30pmish) the restaurant was about half full, and that was perfect. Between two people we order the meatless duck, braised eggplant, and a mixed vege chow main. That was plenty of food for two, and we took some leftovers out the door with us for the next day.

My friend loved the duck, I was happy with it, but not head over heels. The eggplant, amazingly tasty, cooked well and the bean sauce was perfect. The chow mein was also done to perfection and was a nice switch up from the two more exciting dishes without being a letdown.

The service was what you’d expect from this kind of establishment. Not the greatest in the sense of warmth, but efficient and helpful.

I can’t recall the total bill for the three dishes with tea, but it was the best value meal on this list.

5. Foreign Cinema: They Can Make Something Work For You

2534 Mission St, San Francisco | ForeignCinema.com | +1 415-648-7600

foreign cinema

The olives were legit tasty (and there was a surprising amount of them)

This isn’t exactly a vegan restaurant, nor is there a guarantee of a vegan option on their menu (it changes most weeks but they upload it to their website) but the chefs are happy to make alterations on items where it’s practical to do so. The front of house staff will have the knowledge of what the options are, and are happy to go through them all with you.

I had a pumpkin soup while I was there with the yogurt removed. It was solid, and for the price and restaurant, totally fine. But I would love to see them regularly put on a high-end vegan option on every menu. It’s just not the same when a dish is missing key ingredients.

If you’re a vegan at Foreign Cinema, you’ll be able to leave on a full stomach (get the olives!), just be aware you probably have limited options. If you’re non-vegan friends want to go, go!

I talk about this place in my post about activities in the Mission District.

Vegan Restaurants In San Francisco Ranked

This is based on a combination of value, taste, and how likely I would be to go back and eat there on my next trip.

  • 1. The Lucky Creation
  • 2. Ike’s Sandwich
  • 3. Pena Pachamama
  • 4. The Flying Falafel
  • 5. Foreign Cinema

And if you aren’t trying to eat vegan on a budget in San Francisco, I could totally survive off a Veggie Delite sandwiches from Subway and Clif Bars!