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Healthy Vegan San Diego Guide
I’m writing this Healthy Vegan San Diego Guide as I sit here in rainy, gloomy New York City and boy does San Diego sound good right now… Last month I went to San Diego for the second time, and I always love having the opportunity to visit cities more than once because the way I see it, your first time is all about doing the tourist things and seeing all the sights, whereas after your first time, you have more opportunity to explore neighbourhoods, and discover local gems. With that said, welcome to my Healthy Vegan San Diego Guide! I’ll be including a few tourist attractions that I think are worth visiting below, alongside my favourite vegan and gluten-free friendly eats, wellness spots, concept shops, where to sweat and things to do.
Following this, I may (or may not?) put out my LA guide. If I’m being honest, I’m still torn because it’s such a B I G city with so many vegan and wellness things to do, and it always changes. I’ve been more than 10 times now, and yet I still feel like I discover new things every trip. Thoughts?
Now I’m getting off topic, but you can check the vlog out H E R E, and let’s dive into the Healthy Vegan San Diego Guide!
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Cafe Gratitude – My favourite spot in Southern California! Hear me out. I know this place gets mixed reviews, but it’s a staple and their food is solid. It’s all vegan (aside from some honey), with tons of gluten-free friendly options, and also some really delicious desserts. What I love about this spot is the emphasis on positivity and affirmations. When you order, you say I am + dish name. The names of dishes are things like dazzling, loved, grateful so when you order, you tell the server “I am dazzling”. The servers will also share with you the daily question, which is meant to encourage thought and conversation if you’re dining with someone. It’s just a feel good, food good place, you know what I mean jelly bean?
Trilogy Sanctuary – Trilogy is an vegan and gluten-free friendly cafe AND yoga studio! The space is absolutely stunning, and you can sit rooftop outdoors and enjoy gorgeous bowls and vibrant veg food. You can also take an aerial yoga class, also held rooftop, or do it all. I’ve only eaten here, but have it on my to-do list to come take a yoga class next time too!
Soulshine Vegan Cafe – This mission beach cafe is the most adorable little spot. It’s a little crunchy granola but that’s kind of what I love about it. Everything is vegan, organic and non-gmo. Think lots of high-raw, fresh dishes topped with seeds and microgreens galore. So delish!
Kindred – More of a bar than restaurants, and not too many gluten-free options, but worth a visit for the drinks. For my fellow sober friends, they can make most things virgin for you! My friend Marina says if you’re not allergic to gluten, get the fried pickles 😮
Donna Jean – Italian food, but completely vegan, with an impressive offering of gluten-free dishes too. You can get any of the pizzas made gluten-free, and they also have the most amazing gluten-free and vegan mac and cheese. This is more of a sit down restaurant, and there’s a gorgeous outdoor seating area too. As seen in the vlog.
Powerhaus Pizza – Vegan and gluten free pizzas… plus protein! This place is only a few months old, and serves vegan and gluten free pizzas (although it’s not 100% vegan as a restaurant). The space itself is absolutely gorgeous and bright, and the staff is so friendly too! They also serve smoothies, but your girl came for the pizza.
Tocaya – Vegan mexican food with tons of gluten-free options. They even have a burrito made with cauliflower rice (trendy much), and coconut churro waffle bites. I’d say this is one to put high on your list!
Peace Pies – Peace Pies is a raw restaurant, and you can also find their products at the OB People’s Market. With the beautiful weather in San Diego, I always find myself craving more raw food, and this is the spot for that! Not just salads, but raw burgers, crackers, lasagna, etc.
The Purple Mint – A vegan Asian food spot with plenty of gluten-free options too. Lots of noodles, faux meats, etc. but was recommended to me four times so here it is! Had to put it on the list.
Native Foods – 100% vegan. As seen in my Chicago Guide and Arizona Guide! Great selection of vegan foods, and lots of vegan faux meats on the menu too. Great comfort food options, and not something to put at the top of your list, but a good fallback if you find yourself in need of some decent vegan food.
True Food Kitchen – As seen in my Chicago Guide and Arizona Guide! This is another wonderful vegan friendly chain. Slightly more formal (think proper sit down dinner) and you can watch the food being prepared from your table. True Food focuses on fresh, seasonal food and has really delicious vegan and gluten free options. I had the Teriyaki Quinoa bowl two nights in a row and the brussels sprouts with chili threads are a must, too!
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Ocean Beach Peoples Organic Food Market – An organic co-op, stocking bulk goods, zero waste tools, organic produce (of course), ready made food and an impressive selection of health foods and snacks. I was especially impressed by the energy chunks at the bulk section, as well as the bulk herb selection because they carry adaptogens, and tougher to find herbs like passionflower. Keep in mind, because this is a co-op, if you aren’t a member, they will charge you a slight fee when you shop there, however they kindly waive the fee your first time shopping there.
Ocean Beach Farmer’s Market – This was the only farmer’s market I had the chance to visit while I was in San Diego and it was incredible. There’s not only beautiful produce, but also lots of food stalls, jewelry, crystals, art and S O many vegan friendly food options! I was blown away because I felt like every other booth had some kind of vegan offering. I really came for Soul Much Cookies, which, you guys may know that I live and die for, but you could definitely enjoy all kinds of food while there as a vegan.
Soul Much Cookies – Ok. Listen. If you live in San Diego, or happen to visiting on a Farmer’s Market day, you NEED to pick up a Soul Much cookie. I discovered these cookies through a few friends of mine, who shared it with me because they knew I loved cookies, and that I was vegan and gluten-free. Well, friends, these cookies not only check all of those boxes, but they also are made with saved grains and juice pulp (meaning, they’re made with ingredients that would otherwise go to waste), are high in protein AND are made with no oil. I connected with the wonderful team and was so happy to learn that they now sell their cookies online, so you can order them even if you don’t live in San Diego. Love this company, the cookies and the people! It’s a must. Trust me.
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Holy Matcha– This café has been on my list for a long time because the café focuses on matcha, and matcha flavored baked goods. Also, the interior is very pink, and very cute. I read some mixed reviews online about the spot, although I now think that most of the negative reviews were more about the prices and the fact that it’s such a trendy spot, versus actual criticism of the food. I went in with very low expectations, and my matcha standards are very high, but I will say that the matcha latte was pretty decent and the vegan and gluten-free waffles that I had for breakfast were absolutely delicious.
Project Juice – I first became familiar with Project Juice because I was sent to some of their at home blendable smoothie cups. I met up with a friend at their San Diego location, and ordered a superfood matcha latte, a deep green juice, and also had some delicious chocolate chip with balls from meet the source, a local un-bakery. For breakfast, we both ended up getting the green smoothie bowl, with many modifications of course, because I’m that person with the complicated order lol, and paleo toppings. Update: get the Biome bagel (it’s vegan and gluten-free), or the protein waffles because holy yum!
Beaming – This is a chain juice spot with locations in Los Angeles as well. They offer amazing smoothies, juices, as well as some premade healthy food like salads and mushroom wraps (my friend’s personal fave item). In addition to the food and juices, they also offer baked goods that are made with super food ingredients and also high in protein. Oh and did I mention that it’s all vegan and gluten-free? The cookies are absolutely a must, and if you like banana bread I highly recommend that as well. As for the smoothies, I personally really like the Sexy Mayan smoothie!
Vitality Bowls – I’ve been to Vitality Bowls in a few other cities, and they serve their smoothie bowls in gigantic silver bowls bigger than your face. I love that it’s customizable, and reliably good if I’m in a pinch and just need a smoothie while traveling. I didn’t go this trip, but thought it was worth mentioning!
Sambazon – You probably know Sambazon because they’re the OG Açai people, best known for their frozen açai packs that make it possible to DIY a bowl at home. I love their packs, and love that they offer pure unsweetened açai, so if you’re a fan of them, I’d add their cafe to your list! It’s not very centrally located, but if you’re driving or in that area, definitely check it out.
Northside Shack – The most recommended açai bowl by all the locals. I didn’t have a chance to stop by, but everyone told me this was T H E spot. Update: I stopped by. It’s delish! They use açai sorbet, so there is added sweetener in that sense, but it’s a really great treat on a hot day.
Choice Superfood and Juicery – Organic smoothies and juices, also comes in glass jars! I recommend going for a swirled smoothie, which is what initially caught my eye as I was browsing juice spots in San Diego. PB & J or the vanilla protein is my go to here.
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Leo Nails + Wellness – 10-free manicures and a gorgeous bright interior for all your wellness needs. Think the San Diego equivalent of Sundays Studio, my spot in New York! I passed by this spot but wasn’t in need of a mani so unfortunately didn’t get to that this time.
Remedy Holistic Pharmacy –
La Jolla Cove – La Jolla is definitely more of a tourist-y area but it’s absolutely beautiful and the best part is that you can come to see seals! If you head down to the beach, you’ll hear a group of seals hanging out on the rocks. You can’t get THAT close to them (they will tell you not to, and they’re watching!) but you can get pretty close and just sit and watch them.
Sunset Cliffs – They don’t call it Sunset Cliffs for nothing 😉 I watched a gorgeous sunset here with my friend Marina, as seen in vlog, and it was truly beautiful. The cliffs stretch down the road so if it feels crowded, don’t worry! Keep driving down the road, there’s plenty of room to sit and enjoy the sunset.
Potato Chip Rock Hike – There are a ton of beautiful hikes you can do while in San Diego, but this one is my favourite because it has a fun name, and a fun “photo spot”. As the name suggests, it kind of looks like a potato chip and it’s a decently challenging hike too.
Maven – A beautiful concept shop with clothing, home goods, jewelry and more, with a focus on local San Diego designers.
Pigment – My favourite find in San Diego. A wonderfully curated concept shop with everything from crystals, to cookbooks and home decor. I saw so many of my favourite brands/products there, and everything I didn’t already own, I wanted to. Great for gifts, or just fun shopping. They also have a pink mural outside their shop!
Artelexia – San Diego is so close to Mexico, and I think that cultural influence is prevalent throughout the city in such a beautiful way. Artelexia is a shop that specifically sells Mexican gifts, art and home decor and is really fun to check out. Expect vibrant colours and designs and on the way out, check out their beautiful mural that reads “you are radiant”.
S W E A T
Modo Yoga – Modo Yoga is a studio that has been recommended to me endlessly by friends in New York. I still have yet to go… but I did see that they have studios in San Diego, and I trust these friends that recommended it to me with my life so I’m going to confidently recommend this studio to you.
Salt Pilates –
Yoga Box –
Elevate Training –
Trilogy Sanctuary – As mentioned, this is a great place to eat but also to flow and get upside down! Highly recommend it if you’re staying in the La Jolla area.
Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga – When I travel, I use ClassPass, and I noticed so many SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) classes offered. Something that’s really challenging for me, despite how long I’ve been practicing, is yoga on an SUP. It’s a completely different level as far as balance and is really challenging but also really fun and a great way to take your workout outside.
S T A Y
La Valencia Hotel –
Downtown Sonder – During my most recent trip to San Diego (February 2020), I stayed with Sonder in a sweet little downtown San Diego home. It was the perfect size for solo travel, walking distance from many of the spots listed on my guide, and has a full kitchen. The amenities make it feel like a functional home away from home, but you also have access to a concierge–hotel-esque–by phone. I stayed in this cozy little sun-drenched home and it was just what I needed.
N O R T H C O U N T Y R E C S
Up in North County, I stayed in a bed and breakfast in the Encinitas area called Twelve Senses Retreat. Founded by a lovely woman named Anke, this from-the-ground-up stay was built with so much intention and thought. There are 4 rooms, each of which represent an element, and I stayed in the Air Room, which highlights non-animal material products in all of the furniture. You can also get a delicious homemade vegan breakfast and matcha latte, and this is the type of place that will make you enjoy staying in! Perfect for a staycation or long weekend–check in and get cozy.
Thread and Seed
The Nada Shop
Sprouts Farmer’s Market
I hope you find these recs helpful and enjoy San Diego as much as I did!
With love & light,