A Search for Great Vegan Food in San Diego

Cucina Urbana: Vegan Friendly

[caption id="attachment_3050" align="alignnone" width="640"]Cucina Urbana Sign Cucina Urbana Sign[/caption]


BANKER’S HILL.  Each year I get excited about San Diego restaurant week, scouring the menus in search of vegan options.  And each year, I’m disappointed.  This time around, however, someone suggested that I contact Cucina Urbana.  And I am so happy that I did.  I called and spoke with Alison, who after checking with the restaurant’s chefs, let me know they would be happy to accommodate vegan diners.  Hooray!!

We arrived hungry and excited.  The first appetizer included Brussels sprouts with house made hot sauce.  When done poorly, Brussels sprouts can drag a meal down.  When done well, however, my husband and I will often battle for the last sprout.  That’s what happened here.  Cucina Urbana’s delectable sprouts were lightly covered with oil, slightly crispy on the outside, and the hot sauce offered a fun twist.


[caption id="attachment_3045" align="alignnone" width="640"]Brussels Sprouts with Hot Sauce Brussels Sprouts with Hot Sauce[/caption]


Our other appetizer was sweet pea hummus served with crispy pita and chili.  The sweet peas gave the hummus a vibrant green color, and the slightly salty pancetta was the perfect delivery device–not too heavy, leaving room for the entrees to come.


[caption id="attachment_3049" align="alignnone" width="640"]Edamame Hummus and Pita Edamame Hummus and Pita[/caption]


And what would an Italian experience be without pizza?  Cucina Urbana’s chefs whipped up a vegan pizza fresh from their brick oven.  There’s no reason to miss the cheese with this dazzling array of roasted veggies and home made tomato sauce.  The mushrooms were a highlight, the type one might find at the Farmer’s Market.


[caption id="attachment_3046" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Veggie Pizza Vegan Veggie Pizza[/caption]


The other entree was pasta with olives, vegetables and a delicious house made tomato sauce.  This dish demonstrates how simple dishes, when executed well, can stand out.  There is really no way to describe how the pasta melted in my mouth or how delicious the sauce tastes.  It makes you want to take small bites, so as to prolong the good times.


[caption id="attachment_3047" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Veggie Pasta Vegan Veggie Pasta[/caption]


Finally, for dessert we enjoyed a home made kiwi sorbet served with blueberry compote.  I’m not always a big fan of sorbet.  It is often the default offering for those who don’t know what else to serve vegans for dessert.  But again, Cucina Urbana exceeds expectations.  The kiwi flavor of the sorbet was fun and fresh, but it was the rich blueberry compote that tickled the taste buds.


[caption id="attachment_3048" align="alignnone" width="640"]Kiwi Sorbet with Blueberry Compote Kiwi Sorbet with Blueberry Compote[/caption]


I love the interior of Cucina Urbana with its high ceilings and dramatic lighting.  My dining experience at Cucina Urbana was one of my favorite dinners in a long while.  Thank goodness for restaurant week and special occasions!

If you do want to visit Cucina Urbana, it’s easy to make reservations through OpenTable.  You can even note special dietary requests (like “I’m vegan!”) under the “add a special request” section.


[caption id="attachment_3051" align="alignnone" width="640"]Cucina Urbana Interior Cucina Urbana Interior[/caption]


505 Laurel Street

San Diego, CA 92101



  • Jean says:

    Had dinner at Cucina Urbana. 1st server said the hummus was vegan. 2nd server said the hummus has chicken broth. Checked with chef and yes…chicken broth in the hummus. I always check that everything is vegan, but hummus is not usually an issue so I was surprised. The vegan pizza and the Brussels were very good. Vegan selection very limited and no vegan dessert when I was there.

    • emily says:

      That’s interesting about the hummus! I checked that night and they assured me it was vegan. I wonder if they sometimes use chicken broth and sometimes use veggie broth in their recipe.

      It’s true that the majority of their menu is not vegan, but it’s always nice to have something to order 🙂

    • royya modir says:

      I recently had hummus and found at later it had cheese in it. I never trust anything anymore.

      • emily says:

        I think it’s always good to double check on the ingredients. I found the staff at Cucina Urbana to be extremely helpful in answering my questions regarding whether items were vegan.

  • Lena says:

    Thank you so much for this review. I went there last night and I tried the Vegan Pizza and it was amazing! So were the Brussel Sprouts were so good. We had a lemon elderberry flower sorbet to finish.
    The service was great as well.
    Thank you for everything you do, I love being able to see which restaurants I can actually eat at. It’s a great feeling.

    • emily says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed your experience at Cucina Urbana. I think it’s always good to have another restaurant in the vegan rotation.

  • The Marine Room participates in Restaurant Week and has an amazing tofu entree that’s vegan. The last time I was there a broad was trying to look in my dish saying it looked interesting. I told her it was the tofu and I highly recommended it. Then she ordered fish. YUCK. WHAT A FOOL. I actually took a picture of her too. Then I took home an extra tofu entree for myself to eat the next day. You can also request a vegan appetizer with quinoa, beets, radishes, & penny royal leaves. Very exquisite.

  • royya modir says:

    You do realize pancetta is meat, right? This post is disturbing. I felt that Cucina Urbana was not friendly at all to vegans and will never go back.

  • emily says:

    You are absolutely correct. Pancetta usually accompanies the Brussels sprouts, but they accommodated our vegan request and left it out. Thanks for pointing out that I mis-typed the description.

    I like to share places that I think have at least one good vegan option with others. It’s obviously your choice as to whether you want to go or not.

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