I grew up to be a slightly picky eater. Hanging out with me can be troublesome and limiting: especially when I say no to almost every dish and even many restaurants. After going through a time where I was simply eating the same dishes every time—chicken or some type of vegetables—I embarked on an adventure to learn more about places that offered vegetarian and/or vegan dishes. To my surprise, I found several places in San Francisco that offer tasty vegetarian and/or vegan food. Here is a compilation of some of my favorite places to go when you’re not feeling meat. 

1. Cha-Ya

If you’re craving some Japanese food but not really the seafood aspect of it, Cha-Ya offers a huge variety from vegan sushi to tempura to some hot noodle soup. I personally was not a huge Japanese sushi fan to start with and embarrassingly only grabbed tamago or the seaweed topped rolls at traditional Japanese restaurants, but Cha-Ya offers a list of diverse rolls. It makes me feel less self-conscious about the rolls I was eating. Make a visit if you’re curious about this vegan sushi, and you’ll see how uniquely the combinations of ingredients and flavors play together.

#SpoonTip: Make sure you have cash handy as Cha-Ya doesn’t accept credit cards.

2. Enjoy Vegetarian

As one of my go-to places, Enjoy Vegetarian never seems to fail me with all the dishes I’ve tried. Enjoy Vegetarian is focused more on Chinese cuisine minus the meat typically found in the dishes. Regardless of that, the food stays true to the flavorsand to my surprise, the textureof your favorite Chinese dishes while using vegetables or non-meat products.

The menu has all things from a veggie shark fin soup to a flavorful house fried rice to even crispy “chicken” nuggets. There are two stores in San Francisco, one on Kirkham Street and one on Kearny Streetfor those coming from elsewhere, the Kearny Street location may be easier to get to because of the convenience of BART.

3. Golden Era

As a fanatic of Vietnamese cuisine, I was ecstatic to discover Golden Era. It offers a huge array of items as well, from unique savory items to your favorite desserts. Golden Era takes the Vietnamese food I hold dear to my heart like Bun Bo Hue and Chả Giò and creates vegetarian versions of them while maintaining the nostalgic flavors. The dishes from Golden Era amaze me because it’s entirely vegan, but the flavors pop out as if it was made with meat.

#SpoonTip: Be sure to take a stab at the dessert and order a mango sticky rice or some of the cakes.

4. Loving Hut

I was first exposed to Loving Hut at my local mall, Westfield San Francisco Centre, but I was surprised to find that there was a store located elsewhere in the Sunset District of San Francisco. The surprising thing I learned about Loving Hut is that each location has a slightly different menu because the business believes that its chefs should embrace each culture and environment freely. If you find Loving Hut in the malls, it’s a great place to get an affordable lunch that comes with two entrees and a side of rice or noodles. Some of the other amazing items it offers are sandwiches and the amazingly tasty noodle soups like Spicy Royal Soup or Pho.

#SpoonTip: Grab the Thai Ice Tea with soy creamer. Making that decision changed my life because I’ve never had Thai Tea that tasted so good.

5. VeganBurg

Just as its name suggests, VeganBurg serves a variety of burgers with a twist. Especially since beef hamburgers have a bad reputation in society because of their negative impact on the environment, VeganBurg is the place to go to satisfy your hamburger cravings as well as decrease your environmental footprint. The best-sellers are the Avocado Beetroot and Creamy Shrooms which will make you see vegan food differently.

#SpoonTip: Pair your burger with the seaweed fries or sizzling broccoli to make a truly satisfying meal.

Well, there you have it: a list of some of the most unique vegan/vegetarian places you can visit if you’re in San Francisco and not feeling meat. When it comes to vegetarian and vegan food, with its limited ingredients, chefs and restaurants have to become more creative in how they’re cooking and presenting a dish that anyone would enjoy. And all of these restaurants do just that. These businesses use some of our favorite dishes, make it vegetarian and/or vegan, and elevate them to a level never seen before. Be sure to make a stop at one of these restaurants; your tastebuds will thank you.