Four Vegetarian or Vegan Options for Dining During BlogHer Food

BlogHer Original Post

Though BlogHer Food will, of course, provide plenty of on-site opportunities to eat, what better opportunity to experience San Francisco than by seeing it through its food? The restaurant recommendations I made for conference attendees last year still hold true, but this year, I have some new ideas to share, and those of you with special dietary restrictions or philosophies ought to enjoy this particular list.

Here are four primarily or completely vegetarian--or, in the case of two of the choices, vegan!--restaurant options if you're looking for a lunch or dinner out at a place that will satisfy both the herbivores and omnivores in the crowd.

The Plant Cafe Organic

Down on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building is The Plant Cafe Organic, a lovely restaurant with water views and a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan options. If there are carnivores in your dining party, this is the place to go and get a great meat-free meal while having seafood and poultry options available.
 
Lucille Chi of Eat Drink Better talked about The Plant Cafe Organic in a recent post.

I am a huge fan of their seasonal tempeh specials including a tangy tomato stewed with sliced fennel root accompanied by fresh spring pea dipping sauce. The chef and staff will make anything gluten free upon request as well, so don’t hesitate to ask! Also, always ask what is in season – they have a creative grilled cherry with toasted almond salad out now.

My loved ones who like hearty burgers have fallen in love with their veggie burgers. These fresh, handmade burgers are not to be missed. With beets as a base, the Plant’s veggie burgers are top notch and they have very creative toppings.

The restaurant is open for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday, and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It's also open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

The Plant Cafe Organic
Pier 3, The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111
415.984.1973
www.theplantcafe.com

Millennium

If you're looking for a high-end, big-night-out vegan dining experience, there's no better choice in town than Millennium. This lovely, thoughtful restaurant features an ever-changing menu of vegan dishes inspired by a range of culinary cultures.

Anjalim of The Picky Eater celebrated her husband's birthday with him at Millennium recently, and featured photos and descriptions of the dishes they ordered.

I have never ordered the same thing twice there – which makes it an even more fun place to eat :)  What I also love about them is they’re committed to using healthy, organic, fresh, seasonal ingredients and turning them into beautiful dishes that are as exciting to the eye as they are to your tastebuds! I would bet that even meat lovers would enjoy this restaurant.

The restaurant is open for dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Millennium
580 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
415.345.3900
www.millenniumrestaurant.com

Gracias Madre

A relative newcomer to the Mission District of San Francisco is Gracias Madre, a vegan and organic Mexican restaurant that relies on expert spicing and nut products like cashew crema to create platters that are not to be missed. This past weekend, I skeptically agreed to order their vegan "queso fundido," which I will admit was not at all like the official cheesy version, but still provided a great deal of comfort and satisfaction along with flavor.

The writer of The Holy Enchilada sat down with owners Eva Ackerman and Chandra Gilbert to talk about the history and philosophy of Gracias Madre, and talked specifically about the amazing flavors found in the dishes there.

Eva has a degree in Spanish, and she is a fluent speaker. I asked her to describe Gracias Madre's sazon. I realize it is not a fair question, since the sazon needs to be experienced, but I was curious to hear her answer. The Spanish word Sazon  is hard to describe. It is one's signature, a special way of expressing yourself trough the taste of your food. It is as personal as the way you saute your onions, heating your water and your favorite seasonings. Eva's answer? "(Gracias Madre's sazon) is fresh. Simple, earthy, vibrant".

After trying the food several times, I agree with Eva. Gracias Madre has a lovely, home made sazon. The food has beautiful hints of chile, onion and garlic that don't overwhelm the dishes. The food tastes homey, what my mother would call "saborcito como el de allá", or what loosely translates as "back home" taste. Appropriately what Italians call "Al Gusto De Mama"- Mom's taste.

Clara of Clara in Veganland raved about Gracias Madre's Enchiladas con Mole Poblano, which were among the dishes I tried the other night.

I haven't had that great of Mexican food in a long time. The beans tasted like those beans that you would get at a regular mexican restaurant full of lard (which you didn't know about until you become vegan). The enchiladas definitely hit the spot, so flavorful and spicy that you have to have a tall glass of water next to the food.

The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Gracias Madre
2211 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.683.1346
www.gracias-madre.com

Greens

Down at Fort Mason, not far from Crissy Field and the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, is Greens, a vegetarian restaurant founded by Deborah Madison that focus on local produce and features some of the most spectacular views in the area. Annie Somerville is the chef now at the helm of the kitchen, and the menu features seasonal specialties that might range from pastas to stuffed vegetables to curries to pizzas.

Madamedonna of Wine Stained Cloth visited the restaurant recently and loved her meal.

The Greens’ vegetarian cuisine is created using local ingredients from the Zen Center’s Green Gulch Farm, Bolinas Star Route Farms and local produce from the Ferry Buildings Farmer’s Market. As each plate was placed atop our table, the artistic touches of balanced colors followed by complimentary flavors satisfied our hunger and pleased our senses. While we could have made a meal of a variety of pre-courses, we didn’t want to miss the entrées so we ordered several of each and shared the bounty.

The restaurant serves lunch Tuesday through Saturday, brunch on Sunday, an a la carte dinner Sunday through Friday, and on Saturday, a prix fixe dinner.

Greens
Fort Mason, Building A
San Francisco, CA 94123
415.771.6222
www.greensrestaurant.com

Genie blogs about gardening and food at The Inadvertent Gardener, and tells very short tales at 100 Proof Stories. She also tells stories with photos at 5x52.

Photo credit: Genie Gratto

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