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Being a full-time vegetarian or vegan often means missing out on fun get-togethers because there’s nothing there you can eat. Whether you’re a vegetarian, work with a vegan or have friends or family members that eschew eating animal products, finding a good place to eat is difficult. You want food that is healthy, delicious and filling, served in an enjoyable atmosphere. Finding an appropriate eatery can feel like an overwhelming task.

Many mainstream restaurants offer vegetarian or vegan dishes, but don’t actually ensure the dishes are free from meat or animal byproducts. The same knives, pans and cutting surfaces might get used, resulting in cross-contamination. For some vegans or vegetarians, that could result in digestive issues later on. Sometimes, even items that could be vegetarian, like beans, get cooked with lard or meat stock, making them unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans. Waiters may not know the kitchen process and could end up suggesting an inappropriate dish.

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Trust Your Kitchen

Your best bet for safely eating as a vegetarian or friend of a vegetarian is to visit an establishment that understands how to properly prepare vegan and vegetarian dishes. In order to help you select the right restaurant, we’ve curated a list of the best vegetarian offerings in the Gaslamp neighborhood. A trip to any of these fine establishments will surely satisfy both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.

Lots of Veggies and Tofu in Indian Cuisine

Gourmet India Restaurant & Catering

Location: 810 4th Ave.
Price: $$
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Indian food is often vegetarian, depending on the region of origin for the recipe used. It should come as no surprise, then, that Gourmet India Restaurant & Catering has some delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes, prepared with careful consideration of the needs of consumers. Because Indian and Hindu vegetarianism is sometimes tied to religion, you can trust that they will take cross-contamination issues quite seriously in this kitchen!

Vegetarian options abound, including samosas and an assortment of dishes prepared with tofu in place of animal-based proteins. If you’ve never tasted tofu vindaloo, it may be time to make a reservation and check it out! There’s a massive selection of vegetarian options as well as dishes sure to satisfy the most ravenous meat-eaters.

Curry Feast

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Affordable Vegan Tapas?

Cafe Sevilla

Location: 353 5th Ave.
Price: $$
Hours: Monday: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., Tuesday through Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Whether you’re interested in the Flamenco dinner show (which requires reservations) or enjoying some tapas, Cafe Sevilla is the ideal destination. For those with an appetite, you can enjoy a 5 course meal for as little as $39.50 per person, including vegetation options such as vegetable paella or even potato tarts. Their brunch specials are the only time that vegetarians may feel left out.

Cafe Sevilla offers an extensive vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free menu that will please everyone in your group. They offer daily Happy Hour specials from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and their full bar offers amazing sangria as well as top-shelf liquors.

Mediterranean’s Understand Vegan

Bandar Restaurant

Location: 845 4th Ave.
Price: $$
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

This award-winning Mediterranean restaurant features a gluten-free menu, as well as a range of delectable vegetarian options. All of their appetizers are vegetarian friendly, ranging from stuffed grape leaves to spanakopita, a dish made from delicate phyllo dough with garlic, feta and spinach.

For your main dish, try the eggplant stew, which is served with grilled vegetables. There are also fresh salads available that will tantalize your taste buds while complying with your ethics. Friends and family members can choose from a range of dishes that feature meat and an assortment of flavorful veggies and spices. They even have a private meeting facility if you’re planning an event with vegetarian guests.

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A Burger for Every Taste


Location: 627 4th Ave.
Price: $$
Hours: Open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week

A visit to Werewolf is a great idea if you or someone you love is a whiskey connoisseur. They have a Whiskey Book of the Month Club that features an ever-rotating list of fine whiskeys, all offered at very competitive prices. In some cases, full bottles of featured whiskeys are available for purchase.

Although Werewolf does not have any true vegan offerings, their black bean burger, the Happy Hippie, is consistently well rated by local vegetarians. Meat eaters in your group will undoubtedly feel wowed by the various burgers and sandwiches available. They also offer several meat-free salads, sides and appetizers, from standard and garlic fries to unbelievable sweet potato sliders.

Ow bow daht! . . ([email protected] ?Seared Ahi Club)

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If you’re interested in reading about more Happy Hours in San Diego, click here!