You don’t have to be a monk to crave food that’s good enough to talk about but that didn’t once talk. Taking meat out of the equation doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor, so more than just vegetarians bask in the heaping portion of PETA-friendly restaurants throughout the East Bay. Covering international cuisine or American classics, these highlighted spots have made their mark on the dining map for deflating the stereotype of vegetarian meals as rabbit food for rolling eyes.
Souely Vegan is located at 301 Broadway, Oakland, a 10-minute walk from 12th St/Oakland City Center Station.
Did someone say meatless barbecue? At Oakland’s Souley Vegan, such tasty delights are no joke. Pairing Louisiana-style soul food with occasional live bands, Oakland’s vegan creole experience gets a lot of hype for its barbecue and fried morsels. Southern fried tofu, seitan and veggies hit the hot oil to hit the spot alongside sauteed greens and vegan versions of mac ‘n’ cheese, biscuits and gravy, and more. All in a homey music-loving locale that makes for a dining experience that’s music to many ears and mouths.
Millennium is located at 5912 College Ave., Oakland, a 4-minute walk from Rockridge Station.
This is Oakland’s place for gourmet vegan feasts in an upscale setting fueled by dark woods and dim lighting. Swapping its original SF location for a spot in Rockridge, Millenium works with local farms to fill the needs of its seasonal menu. Fingerling potatoes with pear ketchup, miso glazed tempeh, chocolate hazelnut flourless cake. Take it all down with a cherry caipirinha off the equally inventive cocktail menu as you take in the heat lamps on the outdoor patio.
Flacos is located at 3031 Adeline St., Berkeley, a 3-minute walk from Ashby Station.
Berkeley’s Flacos is where vegans go bonkers for the banana-leaf tamal. The popular “full plates” include beans, organic brown rice and salad, with the soy-filled taquitos and mole-infused tacos coming up as favorites. Vegan taquito Tuesday lures many to its red-walled interior for fried goodness and plenty of avocado salsa. Drinks to go with your vegan Mexican dream come true? Horchata and strawberry agua fresca should do the trick.
The Butcher’s Son
The Butcher's Son is located at 1941 University Ave., Berkeley, 6-minute walk from Downtown Berkeley Station.
This counter service restaurant gets the award for best name ever for a vegan hot spot. With a menu including Philly cheesesteak, roast beef reuben and meatball hoagie sandwiches, the Berkeley deli and bakery does vegan incognito. Seitan and tofu fill in for standard meats on much of the menu (yuba skins make the “pulled pork”), while vegan bacon and eggs play starring roles in the breakfast list and vegan donuts have got your sweet tooth covered.
Udupi Palace is located at 1903 University Ave., Berkeley, a 7-minute walk from Downtown Berkeley Station and at 1007 Valencia St., San Francisco, a 9-minute walk from 24th St. Mission Station.
Known for its massive dosas in a small and casual dining room, this South Indian food eatery sits on both sides of the Bay Bridge and is well-versed when it comes to spices. Pick your level of heat and enjoy the trays of sauces and sides that complement creations of spinach, potatoes and rices. Don’t forget to start with the fried lentil donuts.