Vegan and vegetarian food doesn’t always have the best reputation among omnivores. Once upon a time, salads and bland imitation meats were the standard at vegetarian restaurants, but those days are long gone. The South Bay is home to a slew of outstanding vegan — ahem, we now say “plant-based” — restaurants that have elevated food, and may even mislead the most adamant meat eaters. There are many possibilities, ranging from juice bars to comfort food to eateries serving every possible form of faux meat. Because it is all plant-based, you might think less about your caloric intake, but consuming vegan food has much more broad benefits, including the ecology, small companies, and self-preservation.
So, whether you’re a full-fledged vegan or just trying to eat less meat, these vegan restaurants in the South Bay are worth a try. After all, if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that we could all benefit from eating more vegetables, so what have you got to lose?
Best San Jose Vegan & Vegetarian Options
Heaven has a storefront and it’s located on East San Carlos St. in San Jose. If you haven’t already tried Cinnaholic, it has a bit of a cult following. After appearing on Shark Tank in 2014, Cinnaholic has opened a chain of locations across the U.S., and the South Bay is lucky enough to have one. Cinnaholic serves gourmet, customizable, vegan cinnamon rolls. There are over 15 frosting flavors including cake batter and creme brulee, and there are over 20 topping options including pie crumbles and my personal favorite, cookie dough. Their cinnamon rolls are warm, pillowy, and delectable, oozing with frosting. Cinnaholic also has locally owned vegan small businesses frequent their turf as pop-up restaurants which is pretty cool. Next time you need the ultimate comfort food to brighten your day, go to Cinnaholic and get one of everything.
115 E San Carlos St, San Jose
Good Karma Artisan Ales and Cafe has been named Metro Magazine’s “Best Vegetarian Restaurant in Silicon Valley” on many occasions. It serves delicious food and is also a fun location to hang out. The décor is hipster, the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and this place boasts an extensive beer menu to please beer geeks. The beer menu changes and evolves with the seasons, and there is something for everyone. Good Karma has a modest food menu, but everything on it is done well. The portions are enormous, the ingredients are fresh, and everything is vegan! Good Karma has been in business for over 15 years and has withstood the test of time.
37 S 1st St, San Jose
Top-Notch Vegan & Vegetarian Friendly Restaurants in San Jose
Happy Hooligans is a vegan staple in the South Bay, with both vegan and vegetarian comfort food at two locations in Santa Clara and San Jose. This is the type of place where you can’t go wrong with anything you order. Your meat-eating friends will find something to love, and if you’ve never tried vegan food before, start here. Get the backyard bbq burger if you want to order the most popular item on the menu. On a sesame bun, it’s a completely vegan burger with mac and cheese, mozzarella, bacon, onion rings, and bbq sauce. If you prefer breakfast, Happy Hooligans offers a delicious menu that includes chicken and waffles and a breakfast burrito. It’s the kind of food that makes you want to take a long, happy nap after eating it, and you’ll be daydreaming about it the entire time.
1711 Branham Ln # A9, San Jose
Mint and Basil has adapted Vietnamese and Southeast Asian cuisines to a plant-based diet without sacrificing flavor or texture. They truly master the art of faux meat and take it to new heights. They have everything from spicy lemongrass fish to bbq pork noodle soup. The texture and flavor of the imitation meats are excellent, and while you might be hesitant to eat it and suspect that it’s not real, you’ll be surprised. You’ll wonder why everyone doesn’t eat faux meat like this because it’s so convincing. They also use a lot of fresh herbs and vegetables, as well as savory sauces that are hard to resist. If you’ve never tried tofu or are on the fence about it, their fried tofu apéro is a good place to start. It’s crispy, hot, and comes with three different sauces. Mint and Basil also serves fresh-squeezed juices and homemade strawberry and mango sodas.
5130 Cherry Ave #30, San Jose
Toffo Com Chay was serving plant-based food for 20 years, starting long before it was fashionable. This is without a doubt my favorite vegan restaurant in the South Bay. It’s as small as a restaurant can get, run by a family, and only accepts cash. There’s a large glass case full of premade Asian-inspired treats, a counter with saran-wrapped noodles and bao, and a menu of made-to-order noodle soups. Everything is delicious, fresh, and made from scratch. Vegan food has a reputation for being pricey, but that is not the case here — for less than ten dollars, you can get a lot of food. Stop here for lunch the next time you’re in the downtown San Jose area.
388 E Santa Clara St, San Jose
Vegan Donut and Cafe is a block away from Tofoo Com Chay so really no excuse to visit them both. It’s 100 percent vegan and serves delicious donuts, Vietnamese coffee, and other cafe fare. The donuts are light, not overly sweet, and vegan, making them (arguably) healthier than regular donuts. There are a variety of fun donut flavors available, including oreo and cake donuts. Did I mention that they have vegan cinnamon rolls and gelato sandwiches as well?
449 E Santa Clara St, San Jose
Since 1994, Vegetarian House has been a popular vegan and vegetarian dining destination in the South Bay. If you’ve never been to Vegetarian House before, don’t be put off by the numerous pictures of the Supreme Master. This isn’t too culty, I promise. Vegetarian House was founded by Supreme Master Ching Hai, a renowned Vietnamese spiritual leader and humanitarian also known for founding the Loving Cup vegan restaurant chain. She teaches people to respect nature and coexist with animals. Vegetarian House serves delicious and addictive plant-based, fresh, non-GMO, organic, locally sourced food. The restaurant also composts and has solar panels on the roof, as well as energy-efficient kitchen appliances and biodegradable take-out materials. By eating at Vegetarian House, you are supporting a small business that is genuinely trying to improve the world.
520 E Santa Clara St, San Jose
Top-Notch Vegan & Vegetarian Friendly Restaurants in San Jose
Juice Co LG has you covered whether you’re looking to cleanse or simply eat a healthy meal. Smoothies, cold-pressed juices, wellness tonics, and food items like chia pudding are all available at Juice Co. The strawberry almond milk is absolutely delicious. It’s not too sweet, it’s creamy and filling, and it has chunks of fresh strawberries in it. Juice cleanses are very popular and are a great way to revitalize your health. But this isn’t your typical cleanse. Dr. Young, one of the most well-known naturopathic doctors in the South Bay, collaborated with Juice Co to create a cleanse manual. This doctor-approved cleanse is backed by science and will help you detox and reboot your body. All juices come in glass bottles that you can return for a small discount on your next order if you bring them back. Juice Co will be your new go-to spot whether you’re trying to lose weight or just want a refreshing afternoon smoothie.
155 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
Pizza Flora was created by the same people who brought you Good Karma, so you can expect great food and a fantastic beer list. Despite the fact that they are completely different restaurants, PIzza Flora has the same cool, kitschy vibe as the others, as well as friendly, knowledgeable staff. Oh, and the pizza is as good as it gets when it comes to pizza. Pizza Flora’s menu includes items like roasted jackfruit and satay pizza that you won’t find anywhere else. The slices are enormous, and they also make their own vegan mozzarella, which is the kind of creamy, melty fake cheese you’ll want to smother on everything. Pizza Flora also offers vegetarian pizzas with real cheese, so if you’re just looking for a place to eat vegetarian, this is a great place to go.
78 S 1st St, San Jose
Vegetarian meals are always done well in Indian cuisine, and Veg and Chaat Cuisine is the gold standard. Veg and Chaat is a vegetarian restaurant that offers a variety of nut-free, gluten-free, and vegan dishes. Their cuisine is savory, spicy, comforting, and delectable. Traditional Indian dishes like samosas and paneer are available, as well as some new twists on old favorites. Their menu is enormous — it’s the Cheesecake Factory of Vegetarian Indian Cuisine. Employees are extremely helpful and can point you in the right direction when placing an order. While everything is delicious, the bread is particularly noteworthy. They have an almost ridiculous number of house-made naan, paratha, and roti flavors that arrive piping hot.
5168 Mowry Ave, Fremont
Some vegan and vegetarian establishments can come across as preachy, but De La Tierra is not one of them. These guys are as humble and down-to-earth as they come, and you’ll want to pay them a visit for the good vibes and tasty food. De La Tierra is a food truck serving vegan Mexican comfort food that you won’t find anywhere else. They serve tacos like Jackfruit a la Mexicana and Soyrizo con Papas, which are both creative and delicious. Try their breakfast burrito if you’re not a fan of vegan food; it features tofu scramble, soyrizo, potatoes, beans, fresh salsa and cilantro, avocado, and sour cream, and it can turn serious meat-eaters into lifelong fans. Throughout the week, keep an eye on their social media accounts for updates on where they’ll be, but you can find them every Saturday morning at the Rose Garden Farmers’ Market (577 Dana Ave.).
Merit Vegetarian is a vegan restaurant in Sunnyvale that has won numerous awards. This location is ideal for allergy sufferers — gluten-free, nut-free, and oil-free options are clearly marked on the menu. And they have a large menu with pictures next to each item, which is ideal for vegetarians who are new to the cuisine. They serve everything from Vietnamese crepes to tofu in a clay pot to pho. For vegan birthday parties, you can also order whole cakes and candy! If you want to order a whole cake, let them know at least two days ahead of time. It’s well worth the wait for the tiramisu or chocolate hazelnut.
548 Lawrence Expy Suite 2, Sunnyvale
Leading Vegan & Vegetarian in Santa Clara County
On the couch, I think almost everyone enjoys eating chow mein and sweet and sour pork from grease-stained cartons. Garden Fresh in Mountain View serves the best vegan Chinese takeout in the South Bay, and they deliver. This is yet another establishment that serves incredibly convincing faux meat. Vegan fish, vegan ribs, and even vegan Mongolian beef are available. It has such a realistic flavor that it will make you second-guess everything, but I don’t think anyone will object. The kung pao eggplant is fantastic if you prefer fresh vegetables to faux meat — it’s savory and spicy, and the eggplant is perfectly cooked. Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, it’s definitely worth a try the next time you’re craving Chinese food.
1245 W El Camino Real, Mountain View
Dong Phuong Tofu is a one-of-a-kind find. This is the type of restaurant that has no website, no social media accounts, only accepts cash, doesn’t have an online menu, and is located in a small strip mall on San Jose’s east side. It’s also the type of place where you can order anything and have it turn out delicious. From traditional Vietnamese dishes like spicy noodle soup or fresh herb-filled spring rolls, they have it all. Dong Phuong Tofu’s service is always prompt, and it opens at 8 a.m. so you can get your fill of Vietnamese food for breakfast. It’s also very inexpensive, and you can get a lot of food for very little money.