Hungry For San Francisco
For a moment in time there--specifically the entire aughts--San Francisco was really the best city in California for vegans. We had Herbivore (two of 'em!), Cafe Gratitude (two of these, too!), Millennium, and oodles of Chinese vegetarian spots churning out cheap and delicious dim sum, noodles, and fake meats. But then something terrible happened. They all started closing! The nail in the coffin was when Millennium moved to Oakland--which was looking like the new vegan mecca, but oof, what a schlep to get there! (If we can avoid BART, we usually do.) But lately there's been a vegan renaissance in our old hometown, and all we can say is IT'S ABOUT TIME!
The newbie we were most excited to experience was Wildseed on Union Street in the Marina/Cow Hollow district. We arrived during happy hour and waited around a bit outside in the hopes a server would come along and seat us at one of the outdoor tables, but eventually, we grabbed one of a few empty tables, at which moment a very cranky server appeared and reprimanded us for seating ourselves. Service didn't improve from their, but we were excited by the cocktail menu and the happy hour nibbling options. We went for shishito peppers and fries (you can never go wrong with either!) and a lip-smacking salt-and-pepper cocktail made with mezcal, ginger, and lemon. We'll definitely go back and, hopefully, explore the incredible menu a little further and, if dreams come true, we'll get a more professional server.
Across the street and a few doors down is Vegan Picnic, which has two locations in the city and advertises itself as "100% plant-based American comfort food." Here, that translates into burgers, wraps, salads, and subs. We got an old-school filet o' fish sandwich and crispy chicken sandwich that wasn't the least bit crispy, but still satisfied. The desserts, which we just couldn't fit in our bursting stomachs, looked super yum: doughnuts, brownies, and baklava, all fresh and tantalizing on their glass-domed pedestals.
The last spot we were excited to try was Nick's on Mission, a Filipino restaurant that's only open for breakfast and lunch. That was OK with us! Besides lumpia, we were new to the flavors of the Philippines, so we were extra stoked to give it a go.
The cuisine is generally quite meaty, and the options here reflected that authenticity, only all the meats were made with plants. Our palates loved the novelty of the flavors, which included vinegary grilled mushrooms and tofu called Sisig, and the cured "pork" served with garlic rice and tofu scramble called Tocilog. We didn't try it, but they even had vegan fried eggs (on the right in the above photo). You get a no-frills dining experience in a no-frills neighborhood, but the food and service were great. Next time, we'll leave room for lumpia AND dessert!