My husband Phil and I spent a few days in San Diego last week. I've found that the toughest time to be a vegan is when I'm traveling with a non-vegan, since we have to go from restaurant to restaurant at meal time, looking through menus until I finally find a place that has something I can eat. That something often turns out to be pretty basic -- spaghetti with tomato sauce, a salad with the non-vegan ingredients omitted, or a veggie burger. This trip was no exception, but I did find a few interesting vegan options.
We ended up having a lovely Persian lunch in the Gaslamp Quarter, purely by luck. We had been walking along 5th Avenue, looking at the posted menus at every restaurant along the way. We found a restaurant with a couple of items I thought I could veganize, so we asked for a table. It was a warm day and we were looking forward to sitting inside where we assumed there would be air-conditioning. There was not, and it was just as hot inside as out. This made the menu seem even less appealing, and we were trying to think of a polite way to excuse ourselves and continue with our restaurant search. At that moment, one of the servers came over and told all the diners in the vicinity to get away from the windows because of an incident that was developing across the street. We looked outside, and sure enough, the street was full of police cars, and several officers had their shotguns trained on someone inside the bar across the way. We stayed long enough to watch them bring out a hand-cuffed guy in shorts and flip flops who had apparently been brandishing a gun. As soon as we were given the all-clear and told we could go back to our tables, Phil and I slipped out and continued our quest for a restaurant with vegan options for me.
We found it a couple of doors down at Sadaf, a Persian restaurant with a sign advertising vegetarian and vegan options posted outside above their menu. The restaurant was lovely and cool, and my only dilemma was figuring out which of several dishes to try. I finally chose the pomegranate stew, mostly because I'd never heard of such a dish. First, though, the server brought out a bowl of delicious lentil and barley soup that came with the lunch. Theoretically, it was too hot a day for soup, but that didn't stop me from eating every bite.
The pomegranate stew was pretty much just pomegranate sauce simmered with chopped walnuts, served with basmati and saffron rice. It had a nice tart flavor, and I enjoyed having an entree that was totally unique from anything I'd tasted before.
More information about Sadaf can be found on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sadaf-Restaurant/177876288897175?fref=ts.
Another good restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter is Cafe Sevilla, where we had dinner one night. As you might expect, the cuisine there is Spanish, with lots of tapas and paella. They have a vegetarian menu, which had a few vegan options. I ordered the wonderful grilled vegetable paella, which was full of asparagus, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, green beans, peas, and I don't remember what else. I couldn't resist the Kalamata olive bread on the menu, but was too full to eat most of it, so I took it back to the hotel with me and had it for breakfast the next morning.
Cafe Sevilla was a really fun restaurant, with live music and a festive atmosphere. For more information, check out their website at http://cafesevilla.com/san-diego-2/.
We walked to Seaport Village another night for Mexican food at Puesto. Tacos are their specialty, and there were three different vegetarian taco selections on the menu. Only one could be made vegan, however, by leaving off the cheese, and that was the potato soy chorizo veg taco. I ordered three of them and they were tasty, but very spicy because of the chipotle sauce. The other two vegetarian tacos contain butter, so they can't be veganized.
Puesto has two locations -- one at Seaport Village and one in La Jolla. More information is available on their website at http://www.eatpuesto.com/.