This farm-to-table pioneer almost singlehandedly exploded the alfalfa sprouts-and-tofu stereotype of vegetarian cooking more than 30 years ago. Chef Annie Somerville continues to turn out a wildly inventive and flavorful menu at her waterfront restaurant, winning carnivore hearts and minds with dishes such as warm cauliflower salad with crisp capers and pine nuts; coconut risotto cakes in red curry; and wild mushroom and caramelized onion gratin with fromage blanc custard. With the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop, Greens is a popular special-occasion destination, but if you can’t get a dinner reservation, go for brunch, when the kitchen dreams up some of its most imaginative offerings, such as spiced carrot-cake pancakes and Merguez poached eggs with vegetable ragout.
Back when the term “vegetarian” conjured visions of tofu and bean sprouts and not much else, San Francisco restaurants were already breaking the mold, creating innovative meatless cuisine that had even diehard carnivores setting down their steak knives. Now that there’s a farmers’ market in practically every neighborhood and a wide choice of vegetarian restaurants, meat-free menu options have become as commonplace as burgers and burrata. Whether you’re a lifelong veggie devotee, or adopting a healthy diet is among your resolutions, peruse our top picks for places that dedicate most or all of their menus to plant-based cooking.
To take a guided tour of all of San Francisco's best vegetarian spots, click here.