10 Spots for Vegan Mexican Food in San Diego
You don’t have to look far to see how much influence San Diego draws from Baja and beyond. Mexican food, however, has a long history of being meat-centric and heavily reliant on dairy—that is, until now! These restaurants carry everything from award-winning mushroom “meat” tacos to plant-based surf and turf burritos. Here are our 10 picks for vegan Mexican food in San Diego!
You’ll find Phatties in a quaint Escondido strip mall where they serve veganized versions of food inspired by the Central Mexican city Querétaro. Handmade blue corn tortillas make their quesadillas unlike any you’ve ever had, while wet burritos bathed in zesty salsa verde are large enough to share. Don’t miss out on the huaraches! They come layered with avocado, refried beans, shredded lettuce, and sprinkled with vegan cheese over a deep-fried masa patty. Before you head out, take a peek at the dessert menu where you can choose a coconut cream cheesecake or something more traditional like arroz con leche and flan.
El Veganito is proof that you don’t need a passport to enjoy authentic south of the border tacos and burritos—you just need to visit the Grossmont Center food court. After routinely selling out at the Oceanside Sunset Market, they advanced into their brick-and-mortar location where the crowds have doubled. Jackfruit carnitas, flaky “phish” burritos, and black bean-filled tortas will have you trading your shopping cart for a fork and knife.
The food pumping out of the kitchen at The Village is 50% Mexican, 50% Japanese, but always 100% plant-based. In addition to having a mostly gluten-free menu, they pride themselves in making in-house meat substitutes, meaning you can take delight in a menu that is—for the most part—soy-free too! Order an al pastor taco made from oyster mushrooms or crunchy potato rolled tacos topped with chipotle “mayo” and creamy cashew cheese. For a more filling option try their sweet potato-stuffed enchiladas verdes or grilled portobello mushroom fajitas.
Located directly across from El Veganito, this one-of-a-kind vegan cevicheria is crafted by chef and owner Juan Malo. Begin by selecting a mushroom, hearts of palm, coconut, or jackfruit base. From there decide between a baja, tropical, or aguachile style preparation. Hungry for more? Feast on a rotating selection of “fish” tacos that currently includes the likes of “el camaron enchilado” (spicy “shrimp”) or a taco “de Marlin.” On your next visit adjust the tune by trying the “shrimp” cocktail special and watch in awe as chef Juan puts on a show and prepares it all right before your eyes.
Since opening their first tasting room in the Point Loma neighborhood back in 2013, Modern Times has done more than their fair share to contribute to San Diego’s illustrious craft brewery culture. If 100% vegan beer isn’t enough to captivate your attention, then perhaps an entirely plant-based, bar-centric menu is! Their munchwraps are prepared with seasoned taco mix and smoky chipotle sauce or soy chorizo with roasted poblano crema packed in a crispy tortilla pocket. Grab a friend and pair a munchwrap with a Tex-Mex style wedge salad drizzled with habanero ranch and masa crumbles.
Veg’n Out began as a vegan burger bar and has since expanded to include additional chef-crafted offerings, and honestly, we’re not complaining! You can never go wrong with the Beyond asada burrito complete with house-made aioli, guacamole, and french fries. Speaking of fries, follow Veg’n Out on Instagram for the inside scoop on weekly specials which often include their asada fries—a plant-based spin on carne asada fries—and Sunday brunch breakfast burritos.
La Jolla Westfield UTC
On those days when you can’t decide between a quesadilla or a burger, you don’t have to! The diablo quesadilla burger delivers the best of both worlds along with a friendly kick of spice thanks to fresh jalapenos and from-scratch diablo sauce. Are you craving something more classically Mexican? Well, the tamale plate served with red rice and ranchero beans would earn the stamp of approval from your abuela while the Catalina taco salad is waiting in the wing if you’re in search of a lighter bite.
Family-owned and operated since 1994, Rancho’s Cocina has garnered a reputation for offering a menu where almost everything can be made vegan. And no, you don’t have to swap out this and add that, all thanks to a menu that clearly states which dishes are available as a plant-based option. Simply inform your server about your preference, and before you know it your table will be covered in surf and turf burritos and beer-battered tempeh galore. You can wash it all down with a tall glass of horchata, a silky rice-based beverage that boasts notes of cinnamon and vanilla.
With locations in San Diego, Los Angeles, and across Arizona, Tocaya Organica’s vegan-friendly menu is as expansive as they come. From crunchy romaine chopped salads to spicy tomatillo chick’n soup and cauliflower rice protein bowls, this chef-driven menu has you covered. Did we mention that half of the vegan menu is also gluten-free?— sold!
Downtown San Diego
A few blocks away from the heart of Downtown, Pokez has become a vegan-friendly staple for many in the neighborhood. Every vegan option is clearly indicated and even includes what seemed like the impossible, a vegan Mexican breakfast! You can order chilaquiles, soy chorizo with rice and beans, and sautéed tofu with mushrooms and onions from open to close alongside the traditional stylings of tacos and burritos.
Jared is a Southern California native who is passionate about traveling and all things sustainable. When he’s not tending his vegetable garden, he can be spotted exploring beaches around the world, listening to jazz music, and laughing until the point of tears.
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