I love food. Who doesn’t?
As a vegetarian (read: pescatarian read: kosher), one might think that food choices might be limited. This isn’t the case in a place like Berkeley. There are so many excellent food options not just for one ethnic food, but for all of them. Here’s my list of the best restaurants for vegetarians by food type as well as my favorite items to order where relevant. These restaurants include the wider Berkeley area (North Oakland, Emeryville, and Albany).
American: The Butcher’s Son is a deli that makes enormous sandwiches, all of which are vegan. Try the hot roast beef sandwich.
Bar: Longbranch Saloon is my neighborhood watering hole, but it should be yours too. With an exhaustive liquors list, sophisticated cocktail menu, 20 some-odd brews on tap, as well as an enticing happy hour, bar snacks, and dessert menu, you can’t go wrong. Their fried cheese curds are a little slice of heaven. Also, the beautiful long wood bars to hang around offer a great ambiance and they have a heated back patio as well.
Brewery: Novel Brewing Company is the latest in a string of breweries to pop up near San Pablo Avenue. Hanging right on the border of Oakland, Emeryville, and Berkeley, Novel has a fun vibe inside their garage-style space filled with board games. Feel free to order delivery to the spot or bring your own food. Everything follows along with a cute book-and-library theme.
Brunch: If you aren’t brunching, you aren’t living. La Note offers a sophisticated take on the traditional brunch experience with french cuisine. Try their omelette de pommes de terre. Alternatively, if you don’t want to wait in crazy lines or are looking for something more mainstream, Doyle Street Cafe does not disappoint. The eggs milan scramble will fill you up all day!
Chinese: Long Life Vegi House will always have a special place in my heart as the place we order from whenever we move into a new apartment and haven’t unpacked our cookware. They offer delicious fake meat dishes to parallel the originals. Try the orange chicken, dumplings, or hot and sour soup.
Coffee Shop: Highwire Coffee is an engaging cafe that puts focus not only on the origin of a coffee but the quality and skill of the roaster. With a beautiful, community oriented space, great for families, pop up events and just everyday conversations, Highwire is a delightful place to spend an afternoon - check out their back patio on a warm day!
Ethiopian: Addis Ethiopian is a go to when you just want a comforting, filling, but affordable and healthy meal. This restaurant has incredibly fast service no matter how busy they are. Get the vegetarian combination and try their spiced tea as well.
Ice Cream: Lush Gelato is hands down the best ice cream in Berkeley. With a rotation of unique and delicious flavors, the ability to split a scoop, and their punch card policy, you’ll find yourself coming back here again and again. Plus, being situated in the Gourmet Ghetto’s epicurious garden, you can enjoy some dinner before your ice cream indulgance. Mexican chocolate is always a staple of mine.
Indian: For North Indian, Himalayan Flavors is the best restaurant around. A comfortable space, reservations available online, flavorful food, and they start every meal with a bowl of daal (lentil stew). A favorite dish is the rosemary naan with vegetable korma or salmon tandoori. Pro tip: there is often a yelp $20 for $10 deal available. If you are craving more chaat flavoring or South Indian, then go to Vik’s Chaat Corner and get some pani poori and a thali.
Italian: On the fancier side, but the best Italian in Berkeley is at Rivoli. The menu constantly changes, but their ravioli or gnocchi dishes are usually a safe bet for deliciousness.
Mediterranean: La Mediterranee offers up tons of vegetarian options including vegetarian kebabs, philo dough treats and the vegetarian platter. Don’t forget to grab some baklava before you leave!
Mexican: La Mission is a University Avenue institution, so check them out to enjoy great vegetarian burritos or fish tacos.
Pizza: Undoubtedly one of Berkeley’s most famous restaurants, The Cheese Board Collective offers up vegetarian pizza (and only vegetarian pizza) every day they are open. The menu changes weekly so check the website to stay up to date!
Sushi: If you are looking for exciting and different sushi rolls, look no further than Yo Sushi in Albany. Plus, you can get your fill of KPop videos. They also have an excellent miso soup. My favorite roll is the “cherry blossom”. For large deliveries, Kyoto Sushi makes beautiful platters for pick up (no dine-in available).
Thai: If you haven’t tried Anchalee in West Berkeley, then you haven’t really explored the Thai food scene! They have an extensive vegetarian-only menu and are flexible in making almost all dishes veggie friendly. Their panang curry and pad ke mao are staples of my diet. Plus, you can grab some Andes mints to go if you need to cool down your mouth after a meal. For more of a pure Berkeley experience, grabbing Thai brunch at the Berkeley Thai temple (otherwise known as Wat Mongkolratanaram) on Sunday mornings is highly recommended. Volunteers from the temple serve up delicious homemade Thai dishes which you pay for with tokens. All serves as a donation. Don’t forget to pick up an iced tea and mango sticky rice and find a spot on the lawn to enjoy!
Vietnamese: I used to live above Le Pho, but even if I hadn’t this restaurant would be on my list for their delicious vegetarian spring rolls, pho, and banh mi. With an airy interior, you could spend the afternoon noshing.
Am I missing anything here? Is there another amazing vegetarian friendly restaurant I should try next? Comment below!