Plant-based Peninsula: the Six Fifty’s guide to vegan & vegetarian eats around Silicon Valley

From fried okra to portobello mushroom soup, all the best herbivore sustenance you crave.

From left: Granola bowls from Beach Monkey Cafe in Pacifica; vegetable mo-mo at Monsoon Himalayan Cuisine in Half Moon Bay; Thai soup at
Que SeRaw SeRaw in Burlingame. (Photos via Yelp)

Whether you’re vegan or vegetarian, sticking to a plant-based diet can be challenging at times, but perhaps never more so than when you’re out to eat. Maybe you’re just tired of the same menu experience (deciding between the veggie sandwich and the salad…or—the salad). Maybe you’re just generally exhausted of being treated as a culinary afterthought. And we’re tired for you.

But before you sharpen that carrot into something lethal, rest assured—the Peninsula actually has a worthwhile range of quality options for your consideration. Hungry? Getting hungrier? Here’s the “green” light: we’ve laid out the many plant-based possibilities in our vegan and vegetarian guide to the Peninsula’s eateries.

It’s all vegan: chia pudding, scones and an almond milk smoothie. (Photo via Que SeRaw SeRaw’s Instagram)

Que SeRaw SeRaw

Que SeRaw SeRaw serves entirely raw vegan options, meaning nothing on the menu is actually cooked. There aren’t too many strictly vegan places that exist outside the San Francisco bubble, but this one is especially eye catching. Everything on the menu is raw and vegan (although some of the desserts do include raw honey) and dairy, wheat and gluten free. This place serves plates to-go only (read: no inside seating) but there are public benches outside and tables around the corner. Our picks on the menu: the creamy red pepper soup, nori rolls with mock tuna (just trust us) and the vegetable lasagna. On top of all of that, this place has kombucha on tap. It’s like a vegan daydream over here.

Que SeRaw SeRaw//Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–3 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

1160 Capuchino Avenue, Burlingame, (650) 348 7298

A vegan Filipino breakfast from Nick’s, complete with cured vegan meat, garlic rice, a vegan fried egg and a side of laing (dried taro with coconut milk & spices). (Photo via the Nick’s Kitchen Instagram page)

Nick’s Kitchen

This place came into new ownership in 2015, and only started serving up a vegan menu in 2017, something the owners credit with saving their business. Even more interestingly, Nick’s Kitchen serves plant-based Filipino food — something that sounds like an impossible paradox if you’re a fan of the many meat-based dishes in Filipino culture. But this place manages to pull it off. Nick’s works with lots of vegetable-based protein substitutes, and in fact, they’re pretty creative with many of the dishes on the menu, working around classically meaty Filipino dishes to create vegan alternatives (seriously… they serve vegan eggs). They even serve a plant-based deep fried taco. Notable on the menu: their take on sisig, traditionally made with various cuts of pork well seasoned with spices and chili peppers; the lumpia shanghai, a type of egg roll also traditionally made with meat; and for dessert, the peach mango pie.

Nick’s Kitchen//Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.–8 p.m.

2449 Geneva Avenue, Daly City, (415) 349–8370

The veggie curry at Monsoon in HMB. (Image via Yelp)

Monsoon Himalayan Cuisine

Ever ventured your way into a Himalayan restaurant? If not, here’s the best advice we’ve got for you: eat here, and you’ll be off to a good start. Monsoon serves Nepali inspired cuisine (the owner is from Pokhara, Nepal) and has as many vegetarian options (that can easily be made vegan) as it does dishes for carnivores. The menu has a special section for plant-based eaters (if you’re vegan, just avoid dishes with the restaurant’s homemade cheese), and will serve up made-to-order vegetarian curries. In summary, we’re pretty passionate about our Nepalese food, and so is this place. Our picks: eggplant curry, vegan fried okra, and aloo bodi tama (a vegan friendly Nepali curry with bamboo-shoot, potatoes, and black-eyed peas).

Monsoon Himalayan Cuisine//Mon.–Sun., 11 a.m.–3 p.m., 5 p.m.–9 p.m., Tues 11 a.m.–3 p.m., closed for dinner

20 Stone Pine Road, Suite B. Half Moon Bay, (650) 713–0826

Hey Top 100! (Photo via Instagram)

Falafelle

This under-the-radar falafel joint is, well… surprisingly under the radar. Falafelle made Yelp’s list of the 100 top places to eat in 2017, and it was the only place on the entire Peninsula to have done so. And yep, that’s right — their menu is entirely vegetarian (vegan, if you leave out the feta cheese). We actually last bragged about having this place in the 650 area code on our list of date ideas, but whether you’re taking a friend, your mom or looking for a good place to eat solo, this place is the gold standard for vegetarians (and for meat-eaters, too). Here’s how it works: order a falafel sandwich or a combo platter, choose your sauce (all vegan) and your toppings. We recommend the spicy tahini, hummus, avocado, sun dried tomatoes and the baba ghannouj. And we could go on.

Falafelle//Tuesday–Saturday 11 a.m.–3:30 p.m. and 5:30–8:30 p.m.

1035 Ralston Ave, Belmont

Oh Baby! Check out that veggie roll! (Image via Yelp)

Oh Baby Sushi

Yes, we’re including a sushi spot on this list. And yes, we’re aware that for vegetarians (or all you pescatarians, shall we say) sushi is kind of an obvious move. But Oh Baby in Redwood City has actually gone out of their way to go above and beyond with their vegetarian and vegan rolls — they don’t mark any of their options with fish as vegetarian or vegan friendly (props to them). For vegetarians, we urge you to try the veggie tacos (onions, corn, tofu, avocado, jalapeño and egg on crispy seaweed). Vegan sushi-lovers: we know you’re tired of the same cucumber roll order. We hear you, and we want you to know that there’s more to vegan sushi than avocados. Grab a (plant-based) friend and order the Veggie on Fire (asparagus tempura, sweet corn, tofu and English cucumber with avocado, jalapeño and homemade salsa) and the Veggie Bomb (a tempura fried roll with spicy bean curd, chili pepper, spicy sauce and the chef’s special sauce). And it’s aaaaall vegan, baby.

Oh Baby Sushi//Tues.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., 4:30–9:30 p.m.

2139 Roosevelt Ave, Redwood City, (650) 366–1688

Smoothies and vegan/gluten-free pastries at Granola’s Coffee House. (Photos via Granola’s Coffee House’s Instagram)

Granola’s Coffee House

Breakfasting out can be a tough thing for herbivores — vegans, especially, since we’re crossing out eggs and most baked goods. And that can be a real bummer, since we really revel in the glory of a good brunch. Vegans (and vegetarians) fear not — Granola’s Coffee House is a solid spot for a morning meal. They offer customizable smoothies as well as options like the Blue Avocado (blueberries, spinach, avocado, flax seed, almond milk, and banana).

The coffee house also offers vegan breakfast pastries that, frankly, might even top the regular kind, so the pastry section is still worth a browse even if you’re avoiding animal products. Pick up breakfast, one of their pour over coffees and, true to brand, some of their house-made granola.

Granola’s Coffee House//Tues.–Thurs. 6 a.m.–3 p.m., Fri. 6 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

116 Cabrillo Hwy N., Half Moon Bay, (650) 440–4692

The Maverick açai bowl: açai blended with bananas, strawberries, papaya and almond milk topped with gluten-free granola, more bananas, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, bee pollen, coconut shreds and honey*.

Beach Monkey Café

Speaking of vegan breakfasts, we weren’t about to just skip over the glory of a good açai bowl. Even though these colorful breakfasts are more or less common fare these days, we wanted to pick an especially bright spot, and we landed on Beach Monkey Café. Options for the bowls range far and wide, but we’ve got our eye on the Pedro Point (açai blended with bananas, strawberries, mango, coconut milk and pineapple juice topped with gluten-free granola, fruit, coconut shreds and honey*) and the Ocean Beach (açai blended with bananas, strawberries, peanut butter, almond milk with gluten-free granola, bananas, almonds and honey*). The café’s smoothies are also vegan friendly, as is their signature Portobello Mushroom Soup, which we can literally hear calling our name (just maybe not for breakfast).

[*if you’re a vegan who doesn’t consume honey, ask for the bowls without]

Beach Monkey Café//Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

986 Linda Mar Blvd, Pacifica, (650) 738–5920

The vegan Girlfriend Cookie (sugar, oats, and vanilla). Photo by Charlie Russo.

Saltwater Bakery

This practically beach-side spot in Pacifica started out with one mom’s quest for gluten and dairy-free treats, and has since spawned an entire business in a league of its own. Four words: almond flour coffee cake. This cafe caters to gluten- and dairy-free customers, but also has some vegan dessert options, such as a homemade vegan donut, and cookies, too. The coffee caught our eye, as well, namely a recommendation that comes straight from the owner: the Harvest Moon latte, which is a fantastic and caffeine-free blend of turmeric, ginger, almond milk, honey and coconut oil.

Saltwater Bakery//Wed.–Fri. 9 a.m.–3p.m., Sat. & Sun. 8 a.m.–3 p.m.

1905 Palmetto Avenue, Pacifica, (415) 637–8946

Also notable in the name of plant-based on the Peninsula:

For their “freezes” (basically vegan soft serve): Pressed Juicery, 230 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA; Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m–9 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 8.a.m.–9 p.m.//(650) 329–1450

Check out some made-to-order vegan desserts: Free & Friendly Foods, 1870 Monterey Drive, San Bruno, CA; Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–2 p.m.//(650) 200–6953

Or a farmer’s market stand with an entirely vegan menu: Rawdaddy’s Fun Cone Food, California Avenue Farmer’s Market, 490 California Avenue, Sun. 9 a.m.–1 p.m.//(818) 571–5730

Or, even a tiny lil’ sandwich shop serving some key vegan & vegetarian options: Big Lettuce, 3174 Campus Drive, San Mateo, California //(650) 649–9197

Finally, a previous favorite in the form of a German bierhaus with a vegan sensibility—Wursthall in San Mateo, so you can get your beer and doner kebap fix like it’s no big thing. Wursthall: 310 Baldwin Ave., San Mateo; 5p.m.–12a.m.//(650) 931–4282

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Sarah Klearman

East coast transplant working her way through all things Peninsula. On Twitter @SarahKlearman

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