A Search for Great Vegan Food in San Diego

Veggie Grill: 100% Vegan


Veggie Grill Sign
Veggie Grill Sign


LA JOLLA/UTC and CARLSBAD. Could a vegan enterprise be the darling of corporate America?  Yes, according to Forbes.com, which recently added Veggie Grill to its list of “15 Explosively Growing Companies to Watch This Year.”  In fact, during the past year, Veggie Grill successfully raised $20 million to further fuel its expansion.  As a result, its 20+ locations in the western states might be only the beginning! . . .   

So what’s all the fuss about?  Well, each Veggie Grill is 100% vegan and offers a wide variety of convenient, healthy dishes.  With vegan versions of comfort foods like buffalo wings, cheeseburgers, and steak tacos, Veggie Grill proves that it’s not boring to be vegan.

I am thankful that Veggie Grill decided to open up its newest location in San Diego, at the University Towne Center (UTC) Mall.  Although I am not a big fan of malls, I can be lured in with the promise of good vegan food.  (See previous posts on True Foods Kitchen and Seasons 52!)

Veggie Grill offers a well-rounded menu.  The diverse menu spans from salads and sandwiches to plates, wraps, and tacos.   On a recent visit, I tried the Gluten Free Power Plate, featuring a stack of blackened tempeh, portobello mushrooms, and caramelized onions with a side of kale and sliced tomato salad and chipotle Ranch dressing.  There is a lot going on in this dish!  And I love that Veggie Grill showcases kale as a staple side dish, complete with a creamy dressing and sesame seeds to reward the adventurous.


[caption id="attachment_1116" align="alignnone" width="640"]Gluten Free Power Plate Gluten Free Power Plate[/caption]


Next up was the Cheeseburger, ordered “El Dorado Style” – topped with jalapenos and caramelized onions.  The burger is served with vegan cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and chipotle ranch on a wheat bun.  I enjoyed the vegan patty – it was thick and juicy – but the best part was the layer of warm, perfectly melted “cheese.”  A great example of the recent evolution of non-dairy cheese.


[caption id="attachment_1117" align="alignnone" width="640"]Veggie Grill Cheeseburger Veggie Grill Cheeseburger[/caption]


The first trip to Veggie Grill was so good, I went back less than a week later.  Plus, the menu presents a lot of real estate to cover!

We ordered the Baja “Fish” Taco Plate.  Three flour tortillas arrived cradling crispy “fish,” green cabbage, original Baja sauce, cilantro, and lime.  The plate also included a side of roasted corn salsa, and “Bean Me Up” Chili.  The Baja sauce and salsa provided fresh flavor, but this is a light entrée that pairs well with the hearty and well-spiced side of chili.


[caption id="attachment_1118" align="alignnone" width="640"]Baja "Fish" Taco Plate Baja “Fish” Taco Plate[/caption]


The All Hail Kale salad exceeded all expectations.  It is a mix of marinated kale and red cabbage, corn salsa, and agave-roasted walnuts with a side of ginger papaya vinaigrette.  A beautiful medley of bright colors.  We also added Blackened Chickin’ strips, which added even more substance to the salad with their firm texture and grilled flavor.


[caption id="attachment_1119" align="alignnone" width="640"]All Hail Kale from Veggie Grill All Hail Kale from Veggie Grill[/caption]


And because I can’t go anywhere without ordering dessert, I succumbed to the Grilled Cookie.  Veggie Grill takes dessert to the next level by warming the chocolate chip cookie (and what cookie doesn’t taste better warm!) and topping it with chocolate pudding and vegan crema.


[caption id="attachment_1120" align="alignnone" width="640"]Veggie Grill, Grilled Cookie Veggie Grill, Grilled Cookie[/caption]


Veggie Grill has a relaxed and casual atmosphere.  You place your order at the front counter, then sit at a table with a number until some friendly youngster delivers your food.

The interior is bright and cheery – red red walls and green chairs with huge windows to let in the natural light.  The outdoor patio allows customers (especially those withe dogs!) to enjoy warm San Diego days under bright, yellow umbrellas.  Need one last reason to eat at Veggie Grill?  It is clean!  I don’t know how they do it, but the counters and tables gleam, and the floor is free from crumbs.


[caption id="attachment_1121" align="alignnone" width="300"]Veggie Grill Interior Veggie Grill Interior[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1122" align="alignnone" width="300"]Veggie Grill Outdoor Patio Veggie Grill Outdoor Patio[/caption]


La Jolla/UTC:

4353 La Jolla Village Drive

Suite, H28

La Jolla, CA 92122




965 Palomar Airport Road

Carlsbad, CA 92011



  • Laura Frisk says:

    You forgot to list Native Foods in Encinitas!

    • emily says:

      Thanks for the suggestion! I love Native Foods. Rest assured Native it is on my list of places to visit!

      • Laura Firsk says:

        Oh, I didn’t realize you put them on the list after you review them. I thought this was your list of places to try. You will love Native Foods. We try to go once a week, since we live about 5 min away! Lucky us! I like your website, Laura

        • emily says:

          If I lived closer to Native Foods, I would probably be there once a week as well! I also love suggestions, so let me know if there are any places you want reviewed! Thanks for visiting 🙂

  • Paulo says:

    I have never been able to like tofu either, and after laennirg more about nutrition I feel no need to force myself to like it. Soy has a sugar that we can’t digest, which is why it gives us gas, and manufactured tofu has been processed to take out all of the fiber as well as a lot of the vitamins and minerals.Tempeh is a fermented product, so that the sugar has been broken down, and it uses the whole bean fiber all and tastes SO much better! ask around or maybe order online?

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