Visiting San Francisco is always a treat! I have many favorites in this town. Here are some of the places I visited this past weekend, as well as a few faves I didn’t get to this time around.
Cafe Gratitude: My “I Am Whole” was a mix of sauteed sea vegetables and kale, quinoa and local brown rice, homemade kim chee, carrots, and sprouts, with tahini-garlic sauce and teriyaki almonds. My husband Seth had “I Am Warm-Hearted,” fluffy grilled polenta with a puttanesca suace, topped with creamy cashew ricotta and Brazil nut “Parmesean.” I love the “I Am Grateful” menu item: a community supported grain bowl of shredded kale, local brown rice, black beans, and tahini-garlic; payment is by donation, and no one is turned away.
Gracias Madre: An organic Mexican restaurant in the Mission district. The atmosphere is slightly rustic (in a trendy chic kind of way), and festive. We shared a meal here with non-veg friends, and they thought everything was de-lish, too. The guys got the the spicy mole enchiladas topped with mushrooms and cashew cheese; my friend Patty and I both opted for the tamale entree — stoneground heirloom masa filled with zucchini and onions. I ordered a heaping side of sauteed kale for the table.
Millenium: This is the upscale vegan restaurant that everyone should be fortunate enough to experience in this lifetime. I had the Charmoula Grilled Portobello Mushroom that comes with seared brussel sprouts, artichokes and cannellini beans, toasted kamut risotto, and beet-Syrah reduction. Seth had the Cauliflower & Lemongrass Risotto: coconut-arborio rice crusted cauliflower, seared king trumpet mushrooms, bok choy and ginger tofu, mung bean sprouts, green curry-pine nut pesto, with chile-peanut sambal. The appetizers and desserts also were amazing! Tip: the bar makes a vegan “Irish Cream” that is the perfect finish to a perfect meal here.
Herbivore: Love the diner vibe! It was the ideal setting for a rainy morning brunch. I had the vegan blueberry pancakes with grilled bananas. Seth had a breakfast burrito (stuffed with black beans, tofu scramble, and tempeh bacon) with home fries. Since we visited on our last day in the city, I also got a spinach salad to go — for the flight home.
Peasant Pies: This place in the NOE neighborhood has been around for something like 19 years, but this was my first time. Mini pot pies, with some great vegan options. Pies we shared: morroccan-lentil, garbanzo bean curry, and black bean & spicy tofu. Enjoy a “combo” — a pot pie and either a cup of soup (I had the barley vegetable) or an organic salad.
- Bread & Cocoa: This coffeehouse/bakery was near our hotel in the Union Square area. I spent my mornings here, sitting at one of the large farmhouse tables, reading with a good cup of decaf in my hand. One day my morning’s work led me right into lunchtime, so I enjoyed a bowl of the vegan lentil soup and a side salad. On Saturday morning, Seth and I had breakfast here and got some work done before heading to the SF Museum of Modern Art. (By the way, there’s great exhibit going on right now of photography by Francesca Woodman. If you have the opportunity, don’t miss it!)
- Katz Bagels: Sunday bagels with Tofutti.
Other favorites I didn’t make it to this time around:
- Greens: vegetarian restaurant at Fort Mason, with a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Not the most obviously vegan-friendly, but they’ll work with you. I like going there for lunch, and then heading next door to the Museo Italo Americano.
- Cha-Ya: all-vegan Japanese in the Mission District. Sushi and noodles… yum!
- Ali Baba’s Cave: my SF spot for falafel. Unfortunately, the Lower Haight location has closed, but there’s still one in the Mission district.
- Caffe Sapore: a great place in North Beach (my favorite neighborhood in SF, of course!). Usually, I get to North Beach at least once during a visit, with a trip to City Lights Bookstore.
When I asked our friends on the Cruelty-Free Faves Facebook page for recommendations about where to visit this weekend, quite a few mentioned the farmers markets at the Ferry building and Alemany. Alas, I didn’t get to either this time around, but I’m a huge fan of wandering around and picking up a few goodies whenever I have a chance. There’s also a farmers market downtown on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Crocker Galleria I’ll have to check out the next time I’m in the city… soon!