From either my mildly entertaining / self-deprecating insta-stories this week, or my recent blog post, you likely know that I’ve been traveling (re: eating my way) through San Diego!
As I swapped cool Toronto city living for warm San Diego beach vibes, I made it a point to assimilate myself into the California lifestyle and stop at every health-conscious, all-organic, and plant-based restaurant & cafe I could find!
First stop was Cafe Gratitude, and they should’ve charged me rent!
It was Zuliya who recommended Cafe Gratitude to me, and I am forever indebted to her because of it! I visited 4/5 days for how good the food was. But I also totally (and happily) fell victim to the restaurant’s ethos.
“Thank you for the food before us,
the friends beside us and the love within us”
I saw that written on the wall above the serving counter, and instantly fell in love. The restaurant was filled with positive energy and staffed with the nicest people.
Every morning I set up shop at their long harvest / community table with my laptop and just chilled. It was peaceful. Like a plant-based haven, with a menu you could trust, and ingredients you KNOW are good for you.
I’ll definitely be sharing a follow-up post on Cafe Gratitude. It was my favourite place in San Diego, hands down.
On my first day I ordered the “Thrilled”. It was french toast topped with cashew cream, strawberries + blackberries and maple syrup (optional). I also tried two juices, the “Replenished” and the “Beaming” – both were soooooo good!
Day two was a lunchtime visit so I ordered the “Humble” Indian Curry Bowl on Rice & Quinoa. It was the definition of comfort food, yet with no post-consumption regrets!
The third time I visited I had a huge appetite and a big day of exploring ahead of me, so I ordered both the “Peaceful Flight” (Toast Sampler) and the “Bonita” (Breakfast Tacos).
On my last day I only had enough time for some “Gratitude-To-Go” after a morning workout. I didn’t want to set up shop at the community table smelling all 5mile run, so I got a “Whole” Macro Probiotic Grain Bowl and a “Clean” Cold Pressed Juice to go!
San Diego Food Guide Stop #2 – Sol Cal Cafe.
Two words: big portions. Sol Cal Cafe was one of the first places I found online when I ran searches prior to heading down. The food was definitely good, but more notable were the portion sizes.
I got the acai bowl and avocado toast, and both were pretty good. I actually couldn’t finish either serving to be honest, and didn’t spend too much time hanging out there either.
It’s definitely a great place to visit if you’re hungry and looking for a healthy option, but I wouldn’t consider it to be the most instagram-friendly place.
Kindred Bar San Diego = the antithesis of hippie/granola vegans.
Ok, can we just take a minute to appreciate Kindred Bar right now?! I almost didn’t even make it here since it’s a little outside of the downtown core, but I’m so happy I did! Another great recommendation from Zuliya!
Bar Kindred is dec’d out with heavy metal decor from the skull on the front door, to the tatted-up staff and Metallica songs playing on the sound system.
It’s primarily a metal bar, that happens to serve and exclusively plant-based + vegan menu, without the words “plant-based”, “vegan” or “organic” plastered anywhere. It was SO COOL!
I felt like a total badass sitting at the bar at Kindred.
Seriously, I think I was the only person in there who wasn’t tatted up, bearded up, jacked up, or who knew a thing about metal music. But I loved it!
It’s totally a niche within a niche. And as stereotypically “scary” as “metal heads” are perceived to be, every single person who worked there was super warm and friendly.
They literally just went against all preconceived notions of vegans and metal-heads. SUCH a great concept and such a cool spot. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
I tried two things on the menu while I was at Bar Kindred.
The first was The Wanderer Sandwich, which was a blackened tofu, spicy red cabbage, apricot chutney and lime peptic served on a focaccia bun. Definitely a heavier menu item but totally awesome.
I also got The Amulet Salad, which was full of (good) surprises. Like Indian-spiced cauliflower, and a sprout & nut medley all sauced up! The bartender recommended both so I went with both! I totally did not regret it!
That’s it folks, those were the three main features for my San Diego Food Guide.
Cafe Gratitude had my heart after seeing the positive messages on the walls and windows. Hearing the waiter say the words “entirely plant-based menu, no meat, milk or dairy, and no animals harmed”, might have also played a role! 😉
Other notable, though non-vegan / non-plant-based, restaurants I visited were:
- Meze Restaurant (Greek Fusion with some plant-based options)
- Osteria Panevino – not at all vegan-friendly, almost everything has either meat or dairy. I ordered a simple pasta with a tomato sauce, quality/taste was fantastic.
- Searsucker – has a good Farro on the menu you can order without the yogurt.
- Roy’s Hawaiian – has a vegetarian menu you can order from and ask to accommodate vegan.
Nick Joly | Inspired by Nick