(Vegan Choices too)!

Chef Marian.com

Chef Marian.com

San Diego has become the ‘spring garden’ of my universe when it comes to Restaurants. And it is my intention to tell you everything I know about the best places to dine that are serving Organic Sustainable Food. I also want to share my favorite Gluten Free, Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants as well, so you have one place to go to, (here) when you’re thinking about Restaurants and where to go.

I will quote and share links from Urban Spoon and Yelp, so you have the ‘good stuff’ and some of the places that give us ‘ponder’, and lead our mind to wander…. all in this one article. Good?


Now, when we talk about organic sustainable Restaurants, we are talking one piece of cloth. When we talk about Vegan and Vegetarian, or places with Gluten Free Options, we’re talking about another.


It’s simple (and take notes). Just because a restaurant is Vegan, Vegetarian or has Gluten Free Options, it does not mean that they use Organic Veggies, doesn’t mean the produce or protein is sustainable, and certainly does not mean they’re not cross contaminating if it’s not a total Vegan Restaurant. Where as if it’s an Organic Sustainable Restaurant, you know it’s created with your health in mind…. And then you have to be careful not to load up with items soaked in butter, or eat tons of the bread they put in front of you (I call it a bread appetizer)! Lol And if you’re Vegan or Gluten Free? You check out those options as well. Ask questions, no matter what is written here (and report back if anything is different than listed)! Join in the conversation! Thanks!

And my Top 6 places I like for Organic Sustainable are:

  1. Jakes Del Mar
  2. Cucina Urbana ~ Banker’s Hill on Laurel
  3. True Food – Fashion Valley Mall
  4. George’s California Moderne, La Jolla
  5. Vintana – Escondido (and most of the Cohn Group Restaurants)
  6. Prep Kitchen, Little Italy

Jake’s, Del Mar. Take a look at the picture. You eat with your eyes, no? And that’s all organic. What that means to you and me is that there aren’t pesticides and chemicals mucking up the flavors and your body is going to be able to actually process the food you eat there!

I will tell you that last year we did Restaurant Week in San Diego, and I featured both Jakes and my Number 2 recommendation, Cucina Urbana. My experience, my table’s experience (10 people) thoroughly enjoyed the Manager coming over to chat us up about the food, how they created what they serve and even do a little wine tasting at the end. I am over the moon about Cucina Urbana. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what they say on yelp: “One of the best restaurants to be eating at especially if you’re a vegan. It’s not a full-fledged vegetarian restaurant but they do have vegan options that better other restaurants”.  We’ve also eaten at George’s California Moderne for Restaurant Week 3 years in a row now…. Mmmmmmmm. Good.

 And while we are on the topic of Restaurant Week, the adventure starts again this Sunday with Searsucker, Sbicca, Nobu, Oceanaire, etc. Sign onto San Diego Foodies on meetup.com. It’s always a wonderful night out, with special benefits for being part of my group! I would be honored to have you at my table! And you can pre-order gluten free, vegan and vegetarian ~ so no excuses!  

And so, we move on to Gluten Free Options. If you feel tired, or have a headache, can’t breathe or break out in a rash after eating bread, pasta or anything with Gluten you may be someone who wants to watch the Gluten. Some of us have Celiac Disease…. Others are just slightly intolerant. If you’re going out to dinner with someone who is Gluten Free, you certainly need one place to go to (here) to find all your options.

And it’s a good idea to pass this blog to as many people as you know that care about eating right. You might even want to post it on facebook, yes?


According to Urban Spoon there are 333 Restaurants in San Diego serving Gluten Free Options. But please do not be fooled. Just because there are Gluten Free Options on the menu? It doesn’t mean they’re doing it right. Por ejemplo (for example), there’s a newer Mexican Restaurant that just went into the Del Mar Highlands Mall (Del Mar Heights exit off the 5 frway). They cook with lard! Hellooo! That’s not exactly healthy… but they have Gluten Free options. lol  So watch yourself! See if they serve Organic first, check for lard and MSG then ask about Gluten Free options!

My Top 10 Restaurants with Gluten Free Options are:

  1. West Steak Seafood & Spirits, Carlsbad
  2. Trattoria I Trulli, Encinitas
  3. Stone Brewery, Escondido
  4. Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant, Gaslamp
  5. Romano’s Macaroni Grill (many locations)
  6. Indigo Grill, Little Italy
  7. P.F. Changs (many locations including my favorite ~ La Jolla)
  8. Healthy Creations, Encinitas
  9. Ki’s Restaurant, Cardiff/Encinitas

10. BO-beau, Ocean Beach (Another Cohn Group Restaurant)

I guess the thing that blows me out about Gluten Free Options, especially when it’s pasta ~ is that some of the pasta choices just don’t taste good. I order it. I try it. I spit it out. I return the dish. And I know it’s not me. Some Restaurants really do not invest in trying out the pasta they put on their menu, figuring people that are Gluten Free will be so grateful for anything! Lol On a good note: I can tell you first hand, that someone dragged me into Romano’s Macaroni Grill and their Gluten Free Pasta choices are great and so many. Surprise! Surprise! And least we not forget Jakes Del Mar ~ not gluten free ‘offerings’ but a complete Gluten Free Menu. Cool beans!

Sharp Health Care has a Gluten Free Choices Restaurant list as well: http://www.sharp.com/nutrition/gluten-free-restaurants.cfm

On to Vegan: Here are my Top 10 Vegan Restaurants:

Plumeria 95% University Heights

Peace Pies, Point Loma

Taste of Africa – University Ave, San Diego

Sipz Fusion Café 75% (Vegan & Vegetarian) Clairemont/Sipz North Park

Local Habit 86% Hillcrest

Fig Tree Café 98% Hillcrest

Alchemy 87% Golden Hill/South Park

True Food Kitchen 92% Fashion Valley Mall

Harney Sushi 89% Oceanside, Old Town

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza 88% Carmel Valley + other locations (which also serves a Gluten Free Crust)

This comment on Yelp, really defines Sipz North Park: ‘Sipz a vegan restaurant, but as a carnivore this place makes pretty good vegan food taste like “regular” food’.

But you know? There are no guarantees when it comes to ordering anything specific (vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, etc) unless you cook it yourself. That and the economy is probably why 14 Restaurants in Hillcrest alone that were Vegan are now out of business. That’s how much people that are Vegan, trust eating out. Lol. And deep-fry anything? You’re off the healthy path for sure! And being Vegan is all about being healthy!

Want a complete list of what’s still in business? Check out Urbanspoon.

Onto Vegetarian…

According to Urban Spoon there are 397 (whooot?) count ‘em, three hundred and ninety seven Vegetarian Restaurants here in San Diego. Can I get an AMEN?


Here’s that list:

So let’s say you are Vegan but the person you are going out to lunch with is Vegetarian? How about Sipz Fusion Café 75% (both Vegan and Vegetarian) in Clairemont? Or Tender Greens 94%, in both Point Loma and UTC Mall (La Jolla)?

Did you know that yummy yummy Stone Brewery in Escondido is 82% Vegetarian? How about you hamburger eaters? Think in terms of ‘grass fed’. Think Burger Lounge…. La Jolla! Next week? Let’s talk more about growing our own food!

Happy Eating,

Chef Marian