The newest & best vegan restaurants in SoCal to visit in 2022—San Diego, LA & Santa Barbara
From fast-casual, to elevated dining, to even an all-vegan market, SoCal has witnessed a flurry of new plant-based gems in 2021 to visit on your next coastal jaunt...or if you are lucky, one of these might be right in your own backyard. These new vegan eateries along the California coast should be at the top of your list to visit in 2022.
*Photo: Margo's Santa Monica - Photo credit: @skyyphoto
Over the last few years, you've probably witnessed—and perhaps participated in—the massive interest in plant-based eating and dining. And many restauranteurs continue to prove, that if you build it, they will come.
As a freelance journalist covering plant-based food and dining, I am constantly scoping out new veg-friendly restaurants and reporting on my findings. Even through the pandemic, there has been tremendous innovation in the vegan foodie scene. Being that I live in Southern California and spend much of my time up and down the coast—from San Diego, to Los Angeles, to Santa Barbara—I've visited and reported on many stellar restaurants that have opened, or re-opened, this year.
From casual to higher-end, the coastal communities of Southern California gave rise to an influx of new vegan dining to delight the senses. Here are a few that I've visited and loved...and think you will too!
Monty's Good Burger - Culver City
Monty's Good Burger has been around for a number of years, with several locations in Los Angeles, but as of October 2021, Monty's found another home for its all plant-based, In-N-Out-like burgers: Downtown Culver City. A great addition to the cute and cozy downtown area, Monty's will quench your desire for some meaty burgers...minus the meat. And the vegan "chicken" burger that joined their menu this year should be at the top of your order list. Monty's joins other nearby 100% vegan establishments like Sestina, the upscale wine and pizza bar, and Make Out, the casual order-at-the-counter smoothies, coffee, salads, light fare and more.
Flower Burger - Los Angeles (Culver City and WEHO)
Flower Burger, which originated in Italy, expanded to the US earlier this year with its first takeout location in Culver City. They now have an in-dining location in West Hollywood. This is one of the best non-meat-like veggie burgers in LA—and it looks beautiful too. Their patties are baked with whole-food ingredients and topped with a variety of fixings and house-made sauces.
Margo's Santa Monica - Santa Monica
First, Margo's Santa Monica I got to know during some reporting I was doing for Business Insider about restaurants that have emerged from the pandemic and re-opened as plant-based. Margo's was one of those. I took a visit after I interviewed the founder and was really impressed, especially for a restaurant with a vegan menu in its infancy. With an all vegan menu, from avocado tacos, to Impossible slides, to pizzas and more, there is something for everyone to love at Margo's, including their masterful cocktail list. And, they now serve Hera The Dog vodka, which is also a bonus.
Berber - Santa Monica
At the new Berber in the heart of Santa Monica, you'll find Berber which serves up a variety of Ethiopian-inspired dishes, rich in flavor spice, but surely familiar enough to please any palette. There are plenty new dishes and flavors to discover, and also creative takes on American classics from burger and fries to pancakes and more. They also have a weekend brunch, as well as a juice and smoothie bar. It's a casual spot, but well appointed with lots of light, standard tables and lounging areas throughout.
Superbloom opened at the end of 2021 at the Mission Bay Beach Club in San Diego. The stylish and casual all vegan cafe has a host of health-forward food options (bowls, salads and snacks), organic cold-pressed juice, coffee and pastries. You'll also find decadent holiday coffee specials that will satisfy anyone's sweet tooth. After you grab a drink of food, enjoy the beautiful bay views and walking/biking path you can take along the bay.
XMarket - San Diego
XMarket (formerly known as New Deli) is hopeful to take the world by storm with its local neighborhood markets. Owned by the plant-based e-commerce brand PlantX, XMarket is starting to expand with its latest location (as of October 2021) in San Diego, in the Hillcrest neighborhood. The Venice location has been open for a few years but recently got a boost with the rebrand to XMarket earlier this year—you can check out a walk-through in this video+article I did for The Beet. The San Diego location will serve as its flagship store with over 4,500 sqft of retail space. They carry plant-based packaged goods, and also offer a coffee shop & deli experience.
The PLOT - Oceanside
The PLOT, in Oceanside, California, is a true gem that is not only all vegan, but practicing sustainability to the max. Oh, and the food is amazing too. And The Chronic sushi roll might be one of my favorite dishes of all time. I tried many menu items while there doing a review and video for The Beet, and also met the founder who just exudes passion for what she does. If trekking along to SoCal coast, make sure to stop off at The PLOT.
Plant Power Fast Food - University of California San Diego (UCSD)
Plant Power Fast Food continues its expansion. (And by the way, they also opened their first restaurant outside of California in Las Vegas, NV.) This is vegan fast food at its finest with both splurge and healthier/lighter options. They have burgers, wraps, and tasty shakes. My personal favorite is the buffalo chicken sandwich, but as a wrap. They now have 10 locations and growing.
Rascal's (inside the old Venus & Furs) - Santa Barbara
Just off of the main thoroughfare on State St. in Santa Barbara you'll find the Rascals (which is currently inside the Venus & Furs natural wine bar which recently shuttered). Rascal's cooks up Mexican-inspired dishes with a rotating menu—check their Instagram for the latest. And, if you are visiting Santa Barbara and looking for some top-notch plant-based food and wine tasting, check out my Santa Barbara Vegan Wine Trail and travel guide.
Green Oyster Culture pop-up - Santa Barbara
While pop-ups seemed like a thing of the past in the era of COVID, still, some new pop-ups emerged. One of those was Green Oyster Culture based in Santa Barbara. One of their best of the year was the multi-course brunch—which is hard to find when it comes to vegan food—in partnership with Hera the Dog vodka. The perfectly spiced Bloody Mary's were the icing on the cake to a fabulous meal. Look out for more to come from Green Oyster Culture in 2022.
PLNT PWRD MRKT - Montecito
Just opened in December 2021, PLNT PWRD MRKT is small neighborhood market curates packaged vegan goods, as well as some fresh/refridgerated items. There's a focus on name brands that you would recognize, and smaller, local brands that might be harder to find at other standard markets. Make sure to checkout the line of clean baking goods from Supernatural, one of my new personal favorites.