My favorite restaurants featuring options for lacto vegetarians.
Millenium – A vegan mecca. The dishes are inspired, and the desserts are amazing. My own experience has been hit or miss here, but I’ve never gone wrong with the dessert menu.
Canteen – One of SF’s best secrets. Canteen seats about 20 people (you MUST make a reservation to hold any hope of getting a dinner or Saturday brunch seat) and chef Dennis Leary changes the menu every week. There’s usually a veg option on the menu, but its safer to call ahead, as the veg option is often egg based. I’ve had great experiences here, and the chef is oftentimes, but not always, willing to make a lacto veg option if one is not on the menu. The best part of the dining experience at Canteen is witnessing the facial expression of the person dining with you as they taste their food. It’s that good.
The Slanted Door – This Vietnamese restaurant at the Ferry Building has a great view of the East Bay. Be sure to specify that you’re a vegan or vegetarian when ordering from the vegetable menu, otherwise they cook it all with fish sauce. Try the daikon rice cakes. They’re amazing and also fried alone away from the meat.
Herbivore - This vegan spot in the Mission is great for breakfat. You must try the french toast.
Berkeley (***Berkeley veg dining is all about tasty holes in the wall):
Udupi Palace – A Vegetarian South Indian spot. All of the food is great, but the dosas are especially lovely. (If you crave a North Indian curry, like tikka paneer, try Naan N’ Curry).
Smart Alec’s – This is a healthy burger joint with many vegan options. My faves are the vegan chili over cheese fries or the veggie burger combos.
Cheeseboard – The Cheeseboard is a quintessential Berkeley establishment: the coop pizza place making only one variety per day. It’s always vegetarian, and usually good. You’ll know you’re there when you spot the long line on the sidewalk.
Gypsy’s – This hole in the wall is the home of my favorite pasta dish aside from my homemade ravioli: Penne Gorgonzola. Penne is usually eggless, but I have to say that when I was a customer back in college, I wasn’t too strict. It’s open forever and they cook all the food right behind the counter where you can see it.
Spread: Read my review here.
Mozy Cafe: This little beach shack on the Coast Hwy (Hwy 1) in Encinitas carries island inspired California cuisine and is a favorite morning stop for local surfers. Their coffee and vegan cookies are to die for.
London & the UK:
Busaba Eathai – This small thai restaurant chain offers the best tofu & spinah dish I’ve had, along with other interesting veg dishes such as the aromatic butternut pumpkin curry
King’s Road Market in Sloane Square - It isn’t a restaurant, but this small market off of the Sloane Square tube station has my favorite food stalls in London, and they trump the ones at Borough Market as far as lacto vegetarian options are the concern. Try the vegetarian deep fried risotto ball stand, and the Caribbean and Lebanese stands. The Lebanese stand offers my favorite spinach and cheese stuffed “pancakes”.
Plane Food – This Gordon Ramsay bookend to your stay in London is great stop if you have some time at the airport. The menu is constantly changing, but always carries a vegetarian option. Try the risotto, it’s amazingly creamy, and follow with a berry dessert if you’re around in the summer.
Food for Friends – (Brighton) Try the amazing desserts, both vegan and vegetarian options are available. Lacto-vegetarians will have to stick to the vegan options, as the ‘vegetarian’ classification in the UK includes eggs. I only had time for dessert during my visit, but am dying to try the set menu on my next visit.
***There are so many amazing vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants in the UK. I haven’t eaten my way through even a hundreth of them yet, and will add to this list upon future visits.