NORTH PARK. Ritual Tavern sits quietly on 30th Street in North Park with an unassuming wooden structure and a beautifully crafted sign. There is no large awning with its name or neon sign announcing it’s open. A person could pass by without noticing. But that would be a mistake. Ritual Tavern is my “go to” restaurant when I am taking a group out to dinner. When my family last visited, Ritual Tavern provided chicken, steak, fish, and vegan dishes, with compliments all around.
The two vegan appetizers are onion rings and a scalloped beet salad. The beet salad offers roasted beets, grilled endive, arugula, and grapefruit. The beets provide the fresh, sweet centerpiece of this salad. In contrast, the arugula, grapefruit, and endive inject citrus and slightly bitter flavors. A light and fun way to kick off dinner.
Sometimes, I admit, I miss the traditional meals like turkey at Thanksgiving. Especially with family gathered around hot, steaming food on a cold day. Food that warms the belly, warms the room, and makes a nap the top priority of the afternoon. For me, Shepherd’s Pie fits this category. And so I am grateful that Ritual Tavern has crafted a most satisfying vegan version. This is a hearty dish that will warm you from the inside out. The vegetables in the bottom layer are soft and flavorful, and the toasted mashed potato topping is light, yet filling. And the vegetables in the dish change with the seasons, strongly suggesting that Ritual Tavern actively seeks the freshest ingredients.
My fiancé picked the other vegan entrée: the lentil burger. The patty is made from lentils, brown rice, oats, carrots, and shallots. It is substantial and does not fall apart after one bite (a pet peeve of mine with veggie burgers!). Ritual Tavern then tops the patty with greens and a spread of tomato and red bell pepper, served on foccacia bread.
On the side, the house cut fries are especially crispy and alluring – I routinely steal them off nearby plates. The pickles, too. And be sure to try the house made condiments—ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce—for additional flavor!
For me, the only thing missing from Ritual Tavern’s menu is a vegan dessert. On my last visit, however, we learned that the chef is focused on the issue and hopes to add a vegan dessert to the menu. I wish him swift inspiration!
Ritual Tavern boasts a variety of seating areas. There are front and back patios, both equipped with space heaters and dog friendly! The inside seating area feels like an upscale English pub. Beautiful dark wood floors, chairs and tables are set in soft lighting that provides a relaxing, warm atmosphere for diners.
4095 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104