A Search for Great Vegan Food in San Diego

Civico 1845: Vegan Friendly

[caption id="attachment_3107" align="alignnone" width="640"]Civico 1845 Sign Civico 1845 Sign[/caption]


LITTLE ITALY.  I can’t remember the last time I ate at an Italian restaurant.  In general, Italian food just doesn’t invite vegan modifications — there are too many cream sauces, meats, and cheeses to contend with.  So when I heard that there was an Italian restaurant offering not just one vegan option, but an entire vegan menu, imagine my surprise.


We arrived and decided to start with the Mushroom “Calamari” — breaded and fried Oyster mushrooms accompanied by a side of Arrabbiata sauce.  The lightly fried exterior provided the perfect crunch and protected the delicate flavor of a quality mushroom.  And dipping these mushrooms into the (clearly) homemade tomato-based sauce was a treat.  Suffice it to say there were only crumbs left on our plate.


[caption id="attachment_3108" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Mushroom "Calamari" Vegan Mushroom “Calamari”[/caption]


Next up was the Pesto Gnocchi, a plate brilliant in its simplicity.  Potato gnocchi topped with basil pesto.  I love the vibrant green of this entree.  The pesto sauce was refreshingly light, as the fresh taste of basil played the lead role and showcased the quality of the ingredients.  I also enjoyed a subtle twist on the gnocchi.  Instead of the usual rounded, pinched gnocchi, this dish featured smooth, quadratic pillows.  Delightful.  Each pillow is to be savored.


[caption id="attachment_3125" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Pesto Gnocchi Vegan Pesto Gnocchi[/caption]


I was also very excited to sample the vegan lasagna.  It boasts seitan ragout and vegan incarnations of bechamel, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.  Each ingredient shines brightly.  The seitan ragout is delicate, the bechamel sauce creamy, and the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses provide the nostalgia (for those of who grew up on the dairy versions).  In short, it was the best vegan lasagna I’ve ever had.  And this is very hard for me to say–as I truly love the vegan lasagna created by Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows.


[caption id="attachment_3109" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Lasagna Vegan Lasagna[/caption]


I love the interior of 1845 Civico.  It feels clean, fresh, and unique.  I particularly liked the wall showcasing various culinary instruments.


[caption id="attachment_3111" align="alignnone" width="640"]Civico 1845 Interior Civico 1845 Interior[/caption]


I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy my lunch outside on the patio.  It is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing meal.


[caption id="attachment_3113" align="alignnone" width="541"]Civico 1845 Outdoor Patio Civico 1845 Outdoor Patio[/caption]


Finally, and importantly, the staff at 1845 Civico are impressive.  Our waiter was from Naples, and the owners (including the chef) are Italian, as well.  Each individual was passionate about the restaurant, the food, and making the experience as meaningful as possible.  Raise a glass!

If you are still reading this post, I will end with the biggest surprise.  The chef is vegan.  As a result, the vegan menu will be dynamic, always changing.  I expect this will be a fun ride.


1845 India Street

San Diego, CA 92101



  • tracy says:

    Thanks for the great blog post, Emily! I really want to check this place out. It sounds amazing! Do you know if any of the vegan items are also gluten free – so many challenges!

    • emily says:

      Good question! I was curious, so I just called the restaurant to ask. They said they have gluten free penne, so they could sub that into the vegan Penne alla Vodka. The gnocchi and lasagna are NOT gluten free, and I’m not sure about the Eggplant. So I guess the short answer is that you would have at least one option!

  • Laura says:

    Wow, thanks for the info! I have not heard of this place yet. I can’t wait to try it! Your pictures are making me hungry for Italian food!

    • emily says:

      I think it’s only been open for 2 weeks! I’m sure it’s going to be a great treat for vegans in San Diego craving Italian!

  • Nichole says:

    I’ve been so excited to try this but I’m sad that all the best options aren’t gluten-free. I guess gluten-free vegan Italian IS a bit of a stretch!

    I’ve heard nothing but good things from all my friends, excited that vegan options are becoming more sophisticated in San Diego!