A m?lange of glowing press surrounds Source's vegan and vegetarian menu, which chefs craft with compassion for all life forms amid purified air and shimmering light shows. The eatery feeds the senses and uplifts down-on-their-luck rainbows with waterfall sounds and soothing ambient music. An enormous stone dragon's head draws attention to brick-oven-fired pizzas cloaked adventurously in house-made mozzarella, truffle oil, and guacamole. As cool waves of filtered air carry snippets of happy chatter, ionically filtered water serves as a building block for organic veggie burgers, raw salads, and sandwiches on freshly baked bread. Raw agave nectar leaps into beverages to kick sugar to the curb and allow patrons to enjoy natural sweetness without stealing beekeepers' thermoses. A tent over the outdoor patio admits sun on warm days and releases sated sighs to soar up into the sky.
A Slice of History: In 2007, the New York Times summed up Greens and its accomplishments, saying it was "the restaurant that brought vegetarian food out from sprout-infested health food stores and established it as a cuisine in America."
Who's Cooking: Executive Chef Annie Somerville, an icon in vegetarian cooking. She arrived at Greens in 1981, and to this day, works closely with local purveyors to keep the restaurant's pantries stocked.
Green Gulch Farm: Located in Marin County, this residential Zen community was established along with Greens in 1979. It supplies the restaurant with seasonal produce year-round.
When to Go: Time your visit around dusk—that way, when you get those seats by the window, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge and the sun setting through its arches. Boom, double points.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Pick up chef Somerville's award-winning cookbook Field of Greens, a collection of nearly 300 recipes that include everything from Greens' famous pizzas to its addictive breads.
About the Owners: At her home on Be Love Farm, Terces Engelhart often makes vegan meals from the farm’s bounty, even grinding corn to make her tortillas from scratch. Terces and her husband and business partner, Matthew, realized they could fill a void in the Bay Area by providing vegan Mexican fare that is also local and organic, and Gracias Madre was born.
Empanada: half-moon-shaped pastry stuffed with savory ingredients, such as meats and veggies; most Latin or Latin-inspired cuisines have some form of the dish.
Pozole: a Latin American soup made with hominy, spicy chilies, meat (most often pork), and garnishes such as radish, cilantro, and lime juice.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Fuel mealtime conversations by catching an independent flick at the Roxie (3117 16th Street).
After: Get a new set of wheels at Mission Bicycle Company (766 Valencia Street).
Nobody ever opens a can at Café Gratitude. Here, chefs craft every single dish using only fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. Huge believers in environmental sustainability and cruelty-free lifestyles, they cook with 100% organic ingredients—taken either from their own garden or from local farms—to create a menu of gourmet vegan dishes designed to taste great and make you feel even better. “What Café Gratitude serves is clean and good,” states Los Angeles Times food critic Jessica Gelt, “It feels healthful.”
Here, you won't find a wine rack buckling under the weight of hundreds of bottles. What you will find is a small, focused selection that's adventurous in scope. Rather than stocking just local wines, the staff seeks out truly unique offerings from around the world, from Cahors, France, to Stellenbosch, South Africa. This curated list not only presents a wide swath of international flavors, but also, according to Examiner, “offers options in terms of texture and taste.”
All restaurants have a particular trait they’re known for—some are ritzy, some are relaxed, and some are just plain loud. It isn’t hard to discover what Café Gratitude’s signature quality is. In fact, it’s right there in the name. The earth-minded eatery not only focuses on preparing healthy vegan cuisine, but also on cultivating a spirit of gratefulness and positivity. To achieve this, the restaurant adheres to a practice called sacred commerce, which is rooted in the belief that businesses should infect the community with positive feelings and a desire to make meaningful changes. This ideology is perhaps most evident in Café Gratitude’s service. In addition to taking food and drink orders, the warm and friendly staff always ask guests the Question of the Day—such as “What do you have an abundance of?”—to set the stage for meaningful table conversations and opportunities for personal reflection.
When to Go: Reservations are recommended any time of day, but lunch may be the sweet spot for dining without waiting and for finding a spot for your ride.
Press Props: CNN named the restaurant to its 50 Best Chinese Restaurants in the United States list in 2012.
Seitan: a vegetarian meat substitute made from wheat gluten.
The Story: Loving Hut serves up wholesome, plant-based vegan food at more than 200 locations in 26 countries across the globe. The catch? Each location serves a unique menu, allowing chefs to create dishes that showcase local produce and tastes.
When to Go: Each Loving Hut location offers a reasonably priced lunch special throughout the week.
Pho: Vietnamese soup consisting of broth and rice noodles, often topped with meat or another protein and served with garnishes such as basil, sprouts, lime, and jalapeños.
Tofu: pressed soybean curds often used as a substitute for meat. Because of its mildness, tofu easily absorbs flavors from marinades and other ingredients.