Both of us are vegetarian so most of these are places that offer a good selection. If you know of any good places to grab a bite in San Diego, please do let us know :) This is certainly a
Beach Grass Cafe:
This is place is usually packed over the weekends. But the service is efficient and it should not take you long to get seated. You can enjoy a vibrant cuppa joe while you wait, its served free in the waiting area. They have a long list of pancakes, omelette's, waffles and breakfast starters to choose from. We tried their multi-grain waffles and the famous pineapple upside down pancake. And I have to tell you again, the portions are HUGE! The waffles are served with fresh butter, maple syrup and a berry preserve - crispy on the outside and almost cake-like in the center. The pancake was almost a dessert, really good. They also make a Orange & Mango marmalade, and trust me when I say its heaven in a bottle, its a brilliant pairing. Grab a bottle or two on your way out! All you'll need to enjoy it is a spoon.
We went to the Solana beach location. Its sandwiched between the Cedros Avenue Design District on one side and long stretches of beaches on the other, perfect for a day out.
Richard Walkers Pancake House:
This place is widely famous for its pancakes, and rightly so. You have to look at the menu to believe the number of choices they have for breakfast. Each one more decadent that the other. You'll have your time to decide as you wait in the long line outside :) But just as in previous case, it moves really quick. We had they a 1/2 portion of their Chocolate chip Flap Jack, Spinach Crepes with hash browns and potato pancakes. Everything was scrumptious and the unlimited cups of coffee was just what we wanted on the windy day.
This is very close to the heart of the Downtown, Gaslamp District and San Diego Harbor.
Another fabulous brunch stop in downtown. They pride themselves for using seasonal, local ingredients so the menu changes accordingly. The ambiance was nice and I really wanted to grab a few of their decor pieces to use as blog props. Apart from taste the presentation of the food was really well done too. I tried their veggie lavash roll which was great and don't skip the fresh potato chips on the side :) They had really good coffee but if your not in a mood for it they also had 4-5 homemade sangria's in glass pitchers.
Jimbo's Naturally: This is a natural foods grocery store. They have a great selection of organic, natural products and many many vegan/vegetarian fresh/frozen food options. Likewise their deli section also carries many vegan/vegetarian options. We've been there 2-3 times to have their sandwiches, healthy and tasty.
Elijah's Restaurant & Deli: Huge burgers and about 5-6 veggie options. They also have some Mediterranean fair, but it was the burgers that we had both times. I had the one filled with sprouts and felt mighty healthy after finishing it :)
Roppongi Restaurant: This is a great restaurant in La Jolla. After an evening spent on the beach and at La Jolla Coves, you can enjoy an elegant dinner here. The decor and service will make any occasion special here. If you are in the mood for sushi, they will roll up a veggie one for you on special request. The appetizers are the best, I've been there thrice and never gone past them :D The Crispy Tofu dish comes with two finger licking sauces, the Indian Spiced Kefir cheese with baked flat bread is our all time fav. The Indian spice is really Zaatar and its fabulous. The Japanese Eggplant dish was really good too.
Buon Appetito: This is a fabulous Italian place in Little Italy, incidentally the street is called India St. Great Italian food, we went there for lunch to celebrate V's b'day and loved the place. The food is really good and the service is quick. The whole street is dotted with coffee shops, wine houses and other Italian restaurants, so plenty of choice.
Sipz Fusion Cafe: When we want good Thai food, we go here. I cannot count the number of times we've eaten here. Everything on the menu is vegan here. They have an extensive list of sushi (not on the online menu), soups & salads and entree's. There is a good selection of desserts, boba tea's and other beverages too.
Muzita Abyssinian Bistro - This is a great Ethiopian place in University Heights. They have a good selection of veggie entrees with a few seasonal specials. The also have Indian-style samosas called sambosa in the appetizers tasted pretty good, ask for their dipping sauces to go along with them. The tables are set a little too close to each other, but eventually you forget about it and relax. The street that its on has plenty of other spots to hang out or grab dinner.
Rancho's Natural Foods: This is a Mexican place with an unbelievable number of vegan/vegetarian options on the menu. It took us a looong time to decide since you usually don't have much choice for vegetarian at most other places. I found the food slightly bland though, but it was nice to try something different from the regular grilled veggie fajita's and burritos.
Lucha Libre Taco Shop: This place is just fabulous! They serve great taco's, burrito's, quesadilla's and have veggie options in all of them. The salsa bar has 8 flavorful salsa's covering the whole range of spice levels and each better than the other. Order all you want since the meal won't cost you much. The interior is filled with photographs of wrestlers and lucha libre memorabilia, which helps you pass time as you wait in line to order. Saffron and Gelato Vero are just across the road from here.
Saffron: Fabulous Thai food with a healthy twist, the flavors jump out at you in every dish. You place your order at the counter as you enter and then the food is brought to your table. The desserts are great too, we had the mango & tapioca pudding which was delicious with a subtle hint of salt in it!
Sicilian Thing Pizza: This is a tiny place that serves pizza by the slice or whole. They have all the flavors of the day displayed behind the counter, and the slice makes a trip into the oven before it gets to your plate. They have atleast 3 vegetarian pizza's ready to go, and they taste really, really good. Once you have this you will never go back to the thing that masquerades as take-out pizza. Here, the crust is thin, crunchy yet chewy, a spread of light sauce, cheese and 1-2 good toppings. Every ingredient has a role to play and everything is in perfect harmony. And with 2$ a slice, there's nothing to complain.
Yardhouse: This is probably the only place on this list that is a chain restaurant. The collection of beers at the bar was unbelievable. They probably had more than a 100 beers on tap! They used to sell beers in mugs that were a yard high, thankfully not anymore! The appetizers were good, the service was great and the ambiance was good too. Though it is a sports bar, it seemed to be pretty kid-friendly and I saw many families with little kids at near-by tables.
Seau's The Restaurant: This is a perfect place to catch major sports events and its been voted the best sports bar for 8yrs! ('02-'09). There are a lot of seating options here with a patio, bar, sushi bar, booths and many tables covering two floors. At the heart of this place is a huge 12x14ft projected screen with conference room kind seating right in front of it. No matter where you are seated you will be able to watch the big screen and have a smaller screen close by. Friendly staff, a menu with quite a few options for everyone and great ambiance for game day. Just don't go looking for healthy diet food :)
Cups: They have the best cupcakes I've tasted. We've been there multiple times dropping in just to sample the new flavors. I like that they have mini-cupcakes which are a good bet when trying new flavors. The cakes are always moist and have a nice crumb, while the frostings take the cake, absolutely delicious. My all time favorite in the milk chocolate with ganache topping. They also have gluten-free and vegan options, and you won't be able to tell the difference. The cupcakes are a bit expensive, about $4-5/ea but its the same in other cupcake stores around here and they don't serve cupcakes half as good as these. Stay away from the famous Sprinkles store and head here instead, you won't regret it.
Opera Patisserie: They have lovely Parisian macarons, truffles, tarts, prettiest pastries, cakes - everything to satiate your sweet cravings. Its almost too dangerous to step into their store, you are sure to be tempted.
Gelato Vero Caffe: This is a tiny little espresso and gelato place right next door to Saffron and opposite Lucha Libre. Great coffee and gelato's.
Chocolat Cremerie: Another fabulous gelato store and this one is in Hillcrest. The flavors were really good and spot on. The dark chocolate gelato could very well have been dark chocolate ganache, rich and creamy deliciousness, the pistachio was like eating a handful of toasted pistachio's, but the cassata was our fav with bits of candied citrus peel running through it.
Specialty Food Markets:
Balboa International Market: This is a huge place with a vast collection of Middle Eastern products - canned food, pickles, beans, spices, sweets, dry fruits, tea cups. You'll find everything you need here. They also have a good selection of Indian brand groceries for rice, dals, beans, lentils, spices and coffee/teas. They also have a small restaurant serving Middle Eastern food and yummy kebabs I assume, cos its always packed. The deli section has fresh cheeses (many variesties of feta), mejdool dates, meats & seafood and sweets. There was one that looked exactly like our jalebi's (tasted great) and also one like teepi gavvalu. They have a huge selection of fresh produce sold at a bargain, a good collection of frozen foods and a fresh bakery that makes fabulous pita's and specialty breads.
99 Ranch Market: Your one stop shop for all things Asian. Hugeee place with almost an aquarium for a seafood section! Stinks a bit though. The fresh produce is good too, I find some of our Indian vegetables under a different name. Not everything is marked in English, so I usually have a tough time sifting through the packaged goods aisle. They have a huge collection of noodles, and I get my soba and buckwheat noodles from here.
Mitsuwa Martketplace: This is a Japanese food market with a really good selection of products. They also have a small restaurant serving food. There is a nice little store selling the most gorgeous tea pots and ceramics inside. A whole section for cosmetics, electric appliances and small plastic knick-knacks (reminded of the shopping in Koti, Hyderabad) at one end and a frozen food section at the other. The one main thing I liked about this place is almost everything has labels in English which makes it really easy to shop. The aisles are neatly arranged and marked, so finding things is easy. Not a place for bargains though, I found them to be a little expensive.
Jimbo's Naturally: Local, organic food store. They have a great selection of vegan & gluten-free products, both in the packaged goods and frozen sections. Don't forget to stop at the Deli section :)
You might notice an absence of Indian restaurants in our list, and its something that bothers us too :( Its surely not because we don't like to eat Indian food outside, but rather the lack of good options in SD. There are only a handful of Indian restaurants around here and none worthy of mention. Well, 2-3 are good, but I would recommend them only if you are bent upon eating Indian food alone. I hope I can change this statement soon :)