Texas was experiencing extreme heat in July, so what better way to escape the triple-digit temperatures than to head north to San Francisco! It's been over a year and a half since I was there for the holidays in 2016, you can read about that trip here.
This year, I wanted to check out some new and noteworthy vegan places and revisit some of my old favorites. As always, these are my personal favorite places to eat/visit/shop, they are unsponsored/unaffiliated so you can trust that my recommendations are my own. Let's go!
Where to eat vegan
Breakfast is the most important meal right? My first meal right after landing in San Francisco was at Nourish Cafe in Nob Hill, a cozy 100% vegan cafe serving salads, smoothies, juices, toast, acai bowls, sandwiches and baked goods. I had the "Lox" toast with Kite Hil creamy nut cheese, tomato, kelp flakes, rd onion, sea salt, pepper on a delicious thick-slice of Josey Baker Seedfast bread.
Another favorite breakfast/lunch spot that I love so much that I went to three out of the four days I was in SF is Vegan Picnic. Their ham and cheese croissant is one of the best I've had! It's hard to get croissants just right, especially vegan ones. Their croissant is light and flakey, the ham is legit, and the cheese melty. I would fly back to SF for this.
I also had their sausage breakfast sandwich, which was very filling. But not as crave-worthy as the croissant!
For lunch, I highly recommend the Crispy Chicken sandwich. Trust me, there's a reason why it's their bestseller! The crispy battered chicken patty just melts in your mouth with the sriracha mayo, lettuce, tomato, and sesame challah bun.
If you love burgers, go to VeganBurg, where you'll find creative vegan burgers and sides! They have add-ons like vegan bacon and vegan egg too.
I had the Creamy Shrooms burger with vegan bacon and a side of seaweed fries (they also have broccoli if you want to be healthy). The patty was crispy, which was different but good with the creamy shrooms. The "bacon" was interesting, it was chewy and looked like uncooked real bacon 😬.
If you want a fancy award-winning vegan meal in a relaxed atmosphere, make a reservation at Millenium in Oakland as soon as you can. This is the #1 must-go-to restaurant on my list every time I visit San Francisco.
Coriander and arborio crusted oyster mushrooms with green tomato, spring herb remoulade, smoked paprika, and cabbage-carrot salad. The is deep-fried goodness!
Cornmeal fried squash blossoms stuffed with tofu/meyer lemon and sage filling, watermelon-chile puya salsa, cider gastrique, and watermelon rind and purslane salad.
Black pepper and red wine glazed tempeh with plum demi, roasted marble potatoes, blue lake green bean nicoise frisée, horseradish cashew buttermilk dressing, early girl tomato provencal, herbed bread crumbs. The tempeh is so tender and flavorful! My husband isn't a fan of tempeh, but he loved this dish.
Almond chocolate layer cake with white chocolate mousse, amaretto-dark chocolate ganache, dark chocolate bark, dulce de leche, chocolate-espresso syrup, and triple chocolate ice cream. A sweet end to an amazing meal.
The #2 restaurant on my list is Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar, which I didn't get a chance to go this time. Be sure to make a reservation or be prepared to wait.
If you will be dining with omnivores, you can suggest Roka Akor, an award-winning Japanese steak/seafood/sushi restaurant that has a vegan menu (just ask for it)!
Spicy edamame with fresh chili and lime, charred heirloom tomato salad with black garlic vinaigrette (so good!), crispy brussels sprouts with whole grain mustard.
Vegan nigiri was ok, not the best I've had. Grilled mushroom, shishito peppers, eggplant, asparagus.
My favorite, spicy fried tofu with avocado and Japanese herb salad.
My last meal in SF, or rather Daly City, on my way to the airport was at Nick's Kitchen. I had to have some vegan Filipino food because we don't have that in Dallas! I love Filipino food and hosted a vegan kamayan dinner earlier this year ;)
We started with the Chick'n BBQ Skewers made of oyster mushrooms pan-grilled in a sweet citrusy glaze and deliciousness.
Sizzling sisig with marinated and diced tofu and mushrooms on a sizzling platter. Can you hear the sizzle?? You can see a bit of the steam in the photo.
The special Chick'n Katsu with salad and rice.
Leche flan, need I say more? You'll just have to taste it for yourself!
Where to visit/shop vegan
The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in front of the Ferry Building, takes place every Tuesday 10am - 2pm, Thursday 10am - 2pm, and Saturday 8am - 2pm. You can buy fresh farm products, and artisan and prepared foods.
Inside the Ferry Building are more permanent merchants selling food/beverages/groceries/home goods/etc. It's really a "feast for the senses" as the website proclaims. I was happy to see that Donut Farm has a stall selling all organic vegan donuts!
Another place that had some vegan and gluten-free options was at Mariposa Baking Company. I had their curry empanadas, which were piping hot right out of the fryer!
I could spend hours wandering around and checking out all of the merchants. There's a mushroom merchant next to Mariposa selling all sorts of fungi.
The Ferry Building is the terminal for the SF Bay Ferry, so you can purchase ferry tickets to Alameda, Oakland, Vallejo, and Mare Island for a day trip.
I always love visiting the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and spend a few hours there. They have the special René Magritte exhibition up till October 29, 2018 if you're a fan of his work/surrealism.
Roy Lichtenstein, Reflections: Whaaam!, 1990
Be sure to check out their sculpture garden! LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana.
If you're in the mood to shop or just browse, head to the historic Haight-Ashbury district. There are lots of unique shops/boutiques, selling vintage clothes/vinyls/books/socks/etc. I came across this Sockshop down the street from VeganBurg. They sell only socks, but in all sorts of styles/prints/materials! I got two pairs of printed socks, bicycle, and avocados, made from bamboo viscose, which is super soft/sustainable/breathable - same as our bamboo tees!
You can take a break after shopping and get some Ben & Jerry's non-dairy ice cream at the corner of Haight & Ashbury St!
Speaking of ice cream, there's a Museum of Ice Cream! It's not really a museum, but more of a super fun immersive art gallery with 10 themed rooms and some vegan treats. Be sure to buy tickets weeks in advance to get the time slot you want.
The only animals I ride are carousel animal crackers 😂 My travel companion was our "Botanica" crossbody tote, perfect size for all my travel essentials - phone, DSLR camera, water bottle, and matching wristlet.
I had to leave a little vegan love on the wall. ❤️
Another one of my favorite places to spend hours at is the Golden Gate Park. There are so many things to see and do there, from gardens, museums, art, and sporting activities. This time I visited the Conservatory of Flowers to view the historic Victorian building and exotic plants/flowers from around the world.
I love the splatter-like pattern on these orchids!
Do you see eyes with long lashes??
The conservatory had a rare bloom, the Amorphophallus titanum aka titan arum blooms every 7-10 years and gives off an odor that earns its name "corpse flower" from its native Indonesia.
Don't miss the Dahlia Garden right behind the conservatory. It was in full bloom when I went in late July. The varieties of colors and textures were mesmerizing. ❤️
The park is a beautiful place for inspirations and contemplations, it made me think of this quote by John Lennon.
"Love is the answer, and you know that for sure; Love is a flower, you've got to let it grow."
I left my heart in San Francisco, but I'll be back for it soon! Please let me know some of your favorite places to eat/visit in the comments, I'd love to check them out next time I'm there.