The best vegan & vegan-friendly restaurants for brunch in San Diego
(Photo credit: The PLOT @theplotrestaurant)
[UPDATE MAY 2023]
Have you been on the search for the best vegan (or vegan-friendly?) brunch spot in San Diego? Brunch is notoriously one of the hardest meals to do vegan. There are not always easy ways to “veganize” french toast, eggs benedict, or any other classic brunch dishes typically served at standard restaurants. The good news is in many neighborhoods of San Diego, there are both dedicated vegan brunches, and also restaurants that have great vegan options if you know where to look.
I’ve rounded up the best brunches in San Diego where those seeking plant-based eats will be ultra satisfied. Broken down by neighborhood, and also by vegan-friendly brunches that serve alcohol—as oftentimes that is a requirement for brunching—and ones that don’t. So no matter what mood you are in or what brunch vibe you are going for, you can refer to this guide to help. This guide includes vegan and vegan-friendly brunch places in a variety of neighborhoods from central San Diego to North County San Diego.
Vegan and vegan-friendly brunches that serve alcoholic beverages:
Kindred (100% vegan) - South Park
For anyone on a vegan-food mission in San Diego, Kindred should be at the top of your list. Epitomizing the vibey scene of San Diego, the modern gothic ambiance at Kindred is just as impressive as the food. Brunch, served Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. boats an assortment of delicious vegan grub like their Pancakes, made with bourbon butterscotch, caramelized apple, toasted peanuts, and whipped coconut cream. Also, the Benedict made with herb-crusted tofu, cauliflower hollandaise sandwiched between an English Muffin is heavenly. Don’t miss the selection of creative cocktails including the perfectly spiced Bloody Mary.
Morning Glory (vegan-friendly) - Little Italy
Bursting onto the scene in the popular Little Italy area of San Diego, a trendy destination neighborhood for dining, drinking, and strolling around, is Morning Glory. They’ve made a solid effort to offer a plentiful amount of vegan options, and call out dishes on the menu that can easily be made vegan, like subbing animal meat for vegan chorizo for example. Their decadent Vegan Pancakes topped with banana and coconut are delectable! You’ll also find creative cocktails infused with a dash of health-mindedness—like The Carrot King, made from tequila, ginger and turmeric. There is no shortage of food glory packed into both food and drinks here.
Cafe Gratitude (100% vegan) - Little Italy
You may be familiar with Cafe Gratitude or visited one of their locations as they continue to expand in California and beyond. Their San Diego restaurant sits on the main thoroughfare of Little Italy. Grab a seat outside to people watch, or sit in one of their comfy booths inside, and enjoy an all-vegan brunch option with plenty of sweet and savory dishes to choose from. There is also an attractive drink menu whether you are opting for one of the many health elixirs, a hard kombucha, or a Mimosa. The bright and modern vibe will suit any mood whether you are doing a larger gathering or a quaint brunch for two.
Donna Jeans (100% vegan) - Bankers Hill
Make sure to grab a table outside at Donna Jeans to soak in the sun and some delicious eats. With a brunch served Sat. & Sund. from 12-3 p.m., you have a perfect window to dig into a menu packed full with both sweet and savory dishes. You'll find thin-crusted Pizzas and other classic American Italian dishes, plus beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks.
Naked Cafe (vegan-friendly) - Point Loma, Solana Beach, Encinitas, and Carlsbad
With four locations along the San Diego coast, there is no excuse to miss The Naked Cafe for your next brunch outing. There are many classic brunch dishes to choose from, many of which can be made vegan with easy substitutes that are called out on the menu. You’ll also have your pick of one of the many “Liquid Therapy” (aka alcoholic drinks) libations—my personal favorite is the Amen Mimosa which blends champagne with organic guava ginger kombucha. Dishes are also clearly marked and labeled with a “V” for vegan, and call out where/how you can sub to customize to fit your needs.
The PLOT (100% vegan) - Oceanside
In the beach town of Oceanside, which is getting nicer every month with new shops and restaurants popping up, you’ll find The PLOT, which dishes out an eclectic plant-based menu. Their new weekend brunch is served Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. The menu is relatively small, but a nice assortment of items from a breakfast burrito to their famous Chicken & Waffles. There are also a few alcoholic drinks to choose from including a bloody mary and a mimosa. The PLOT is also dedicated to being zero-waste which is reflected in how they source their produce, to the to-go boxes they use.
True Foods Kitchen (vegan-friendly) - Mission Valley
Located inside the popular Mission Valley mall, True Foods may surprisingly hit all the right tasting notes for both food and drinks. With an open-air design—modern, classy, diverse menu with a good assortment of vegan dishes, there is something to love for everyone at True Foods including a number of vegan and vegetarian items, as well as light and refreshing cocktails.
Tocaya Modern Mexican (vegan-friendly) - La Jolla (Westfield UTC) and Del Mar (One Paseo)
This all-organic Mexican-food eatery brings a modern California twist to its menu. With nearly half its menu filled with vegan options, there is no shortage of delicious plant-based dishes to find at Tocaya—tacos, burritos, salads, bowls, quesadillas and more. They also have a nice selection of beer and cocktails.
Parakeet Cafe (vegan-friendly) - Del Mar (One Paseo), La Jolla, Coronado, Little Italy
I recently visited Parakeet Cafe to try their new spring menu (March 2023), and WOW, I was blown away. I didn't realize how vegan-friendly they are! They also have many gluten-free items as well, and a good mix of sweet and savory items. The charcoal waffle topped with strawberries and house-made coconut whip cream was to die for. While Parakeet is casual, it has a classy, vibey—and colorful—atmosphere across all locations. You can dine and have a full meal, or simply a pastry and one of their many specialty (and beautiful) coffee drinks or juices. And yes, they do serve alcohol as well at Parakeet Cafe. You'll have a choice of some twists on familiar classics, like the Lemon Lavanedar Mimosa or the Skinny Spicy Margarita. This should certainly be at the top of your list for a best brunch restaurant with vegan and vegetarian options.
Vegan brunches (no alcohol served):
Trilogy Sanctuary (100% vegan) - La Jolla
For some seriously health-forward vegan food, Trilogy Sanctuary is the place to go. They serve all organic, vegan, gluten-free dishes. A large menu with smoothies and juices, but also dishes like their pancakes, veggie scramble, breakfast burrito and more. Trilogy also doubles as a yoga studio, you can catch a yoga class on the rooftop area, then follow it up with a delicious plant-based brunch.
Elixer De La Lune (100% vegan) - Bird Rock
New on the scene is Elixer De La Lune which has a cute and elegant setting in the Bird Rock area. The serves an all-day breakfast with bowls, smoothies, and other dishes like pancakes and wraps. You can also try one of their many creative lattes or try a tasty mocktail. After you eat, you can pop over to the next door Lavande Wellness Boutique, a health-minded gift shop and event space.