What does eating right mean in 2022? With interest growing in eating well while also supporting initiatives like climate cooling, restaurants are adapting their menus to suit plant-centric eating — and we’re betting you won’t miss the meat.
Active Cultures Café
Novato’s hottest new eatery might be tucked into Pacheco Plaza, but it has already developed a following for its fresh açaí bowls and egg bagel sandwiches. The menu calls out raw and vegan items, like a kombucha-mojito shake. Breakfast tacos are topped with slaw and falafel sauce, a reimaging of the basic egg and potato taco that hits all the right notes.
464 Ignacio Blvd; 415.475.1128
The Plant Café Organic
Though they no longer boast a Marin location, the local chain deserves credit for updating plant-based eating for a new generation, the hippies’ children of Marinites. A large menu of salads and bowls to which organic chicken can be added attracted a certain crowd, but the 100% plant-based BLTA and The Plant Burger made of beets, lentils and lots of spices changed many minds about eating well and meat-free. (Cofounder and CEO Matthew Guelke leans away from meat alternatives but found a plant-based bacon that met his organic and minimally processed standards.) “We are not out to convert vegans,” says Guelke who has sold nearly a million burgers already. “If you want to eat meat, choose sustainable kinds with a low- carbon footprint.”
2335 Third St, San Francisco; 415.801.5089
Impeccably sourced cocktails and beet poke with macadamias put this San Francisco plant-based restaurant on the map when it opened in 2019. More recently, the demand for pizza led chef Alejandro Morgan to reimagine the restaurant’s Green Forest Pizza. Proofed twice over 48 hours, the crust rises in the oven before emerging burnished gold from the stone oven. A mix of vegan cheeses — shredded and smoked mozzarella — add stretchy texture while parmesan and crimini mushrooms add funk and a certain pesto sauciness that takes vegan pizza to a new place.
2000 Union St, San Francisco; 415.872.7350
The OG vegetarian restaurant celebrates 42 years in San Francisco’s Fort Mason serving inspired and locally sourced fare. Executive chef Katie Reicher has once again reimagined the menu, giving it a hyper-seasonal focus that showcases local produce. That means vegetable jambalaya with braised collards and root vegetable griddle cakes with persimmon chutney and black-lime cashew cream, with or without their famous cornbread.
2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco; 415.771.6222
“I want you to say ‘holy sh**, this is vegan?’” says chef and co-owner Charles White III of Santa Rosa’s unapologetically vegan restaurant. In an effort to get the macho out of meat eating, White crafted a bacon cheddar burger that satisfied his taste buds and seemingly everyone else’s. But why stop with a burger? White designed a Far East Philly with sauteed gluten-based strips with a texture so close to meat, he calls it spooky. An herby bechamel sauce is blended with mozzarella for a bold cheese sauce that slides over the meat before being captured by a sub roll. It’s a dish even a Philly cheesehead would love.
1899 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa; 707.526.3333
More from Marin:
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- 5 Fine Dining Options in Marin and Beyond, Perfect for Holiday Season Family Gatherings
- 4 Irresistible Desserts From Local Marin Restaurants to Celebrate the Holiday Season
Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract Publishing, Sunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon Society, PEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.