5 Best Healthy Cafés in San Diego
For those who don’t know, I treat San Diego like my second home. I lived there from the ages of 23-26, and it was in San Diego that my life forever changed after I decided to pursue a second career in nutrition and wellness. I visit several times per year, and consider myself well-versed in San Diego’s food scene. And with that, I wanted to share my picks for the five best healthy cafés in San Diego!
When doing the research for this post, I went to every cafe except one by myself, and many were filled with entrepreneurs on working lunches or other fellow solo eaters. They are smaller, more local-type health food spots, but I know that you’re going to enjoy every one of them!
The vegan scene is pretty big in San Diego, so you’ll notice that many of these cafes are vegan-based. A few are even 100% raw. Even though I’m not vegan, it’s nice to visit these delicious establishments because we don’t have anything that compares (yet!) back east.
Without further ado, here’s your list of the five best healthy cafes in San Diego. They are listed in no particular order.
1. Trilogy Sanctuary
Location: La Jolla
I can’t create this list without mentioning Trilogy Sanctuary. When I visit nowadays, I typically stay in La Jolla and spend plenty of time at Trilogy working and eating. The space is a cross between a yoga studio and vegan eatery, and if you get a seat outside, it’s beautiful.
They also serve up the best vegan food I’ve ever had. From their low-carb acai bowl—which is made with avocado and stevia instead of tons of fruit (how smoothie bowls should be made!)—to their salads and spaghetti squash dishes, you can’t go wrong with your order.
This was the place that helped my husband Ryan realize that vegan food has the potential to be even more delicious than traditional meat dishes. He was a total convert after trying Trilogy’s nachos. So if you’re looking to help your partner eat healthier, this would be a great place to bring them!
Favorite dishes: The Lust Smoothie (no dates, light banana), Low Carb Acai Bowl (I sub the tons of nuts for a little granola), Vega Nachos, Kale Superfood Salad, Ravishing Ravioli, Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash, and ANYTHING on the breakfast menu. The breakfast is my favorite and their buckwheat crepes are to die for.
2. Beaming Cafes
Locations (in San Diego): La Jolla & Del Mar
A plant-based café, Beaming is a chain that spreads from San Diego to Los Angeles. I learned of Beaming on my last trip out to San Diego, and I instantly became obsessed. Everyone there is so nice, and they serve up samples of their most popular grab-n-go’s for you to enjoy while you wait for your smoothie.
There isn’t a ton of space to sit, but the La Jolla location does have a few tables as you can see from the photos. This never bothered me because I loved the food so much! For my plane rides home, I would buy one of their refrigerated prepared items and keep it on ice until I was ready to eat it on the plane. You can’t get through security with ice, so I usually just ask one of the places after security to give me a small bag of ice. I’ve never had an issue and this is a great way to eat healthy during your travels!
Favorite dishes: Mint Chip Smoothie (no dates, light banana), Lisa’s Daily Lean & Green Smoothie, Get Preggy Smoothie (light banana), Sexy Mayan Smoothie (no date, light banana), Acai Bowl made with light banana and topped with blueberries, cocoa nibs, and granola, Matcha Chia Pudding, Overnight Oats, THE BEAMING COOKIE (I had one of these nearly every day and it became a problem:), and their salads are all fantastic.
3. Peace Pies
Locations: Encinitas & Ocean Beach
I was never a fan of raw vegan food (like pretend pizza and fake veggie burgers with lots of soy products), but then I stumbled upon Peace Pies. They are the real deal when it comes to raw vegan. There’s no soy in their dishes and you won’t miss the heat because their food is that delicious!
The ambiance isn’t the greatest but it’s super low key and the food at Peace Pies is worth it. And the desserts? Don’t even get me started. They are so good you’d have no idea they’re raw vegan. Try the cheesecakes or the mud pie.
Favorite dishes: Mediterranean Sampler, Karmic Kale Salad, Any Quesadilla with Walnut “Meat” added, Bliss Burger, Voltaire Street Tacos.
4. Café Gratitude
Location (in San Diego): Little Italy
I am obsessed with the décor in Café Gratitude. The floors, the marble countertops…yum all around. Where Peace Pies lacks ambiance, Café Gratitude made me feel like I was back home at a café in NYC. And the food fits right in with the décor.
I took Ryan here right after his arrival from NYC, and once again, he was amazed with what San Diego is able to do with vegan food. We split the Rosemary Butternut Squash Dip and the Signature Caesar to start, and both were amazeballs. I really appreciate how Café Gratitude uses root vegetables all throughout their menu in colder months. We left feeling full, warm, and satisfied!
Favorite dishes: The two mentioned above, plus the Blackened Tempeh Caesar Wrap (tempeh is a form of soy that’s okay to consume because it’s fermented), Grilled Polenta, Stuffed Phyllo, and any one of their Wellness Shots!
5. GoodOnYa Deli
Locations: Encinitas & Kearny Mesa
Ok, enough of the vegan cafes for now. GoodOnYa Deli brings our culture’s love of Paleo into the mix and I happen to know the founder, Kris Fillat, from my San Diego days and am a huge fan of her and her passion for healthy living.
My body personally doesn’t thrive on a vegan diet, and as much as I believe in the importance of a mainly plant-based diet, I equally believe most people can benefit from small to moderate amounts of animal protein.
The issue we face when it comes to animal products is the quality and care of the animals themselves. At GoodOnYa, there’s no need to worry about this and you can rest assured that their eggs are pasture-raised, meats are organic or grass-fed, and the quality is as good as it gets.
Favorite dishes: Not a dish, but you must try the Vanilla Cashew Latte with their homemade cashew milk. Plus the Veggie Bowl with Gluten-free Sourdough, Blueberry Collagen Waffle, Vegan Blueberry Waffle, Green Sprout Probiotic Salad, and ANY of the burritos. Delish. Oh, and they sell bone broth by the cup!
I hope this helps and I’d love to know if you have any places you’d add to the list of the best healthy cafes in San Diego. Or, if you’ve been to any of the above and have a fave dish you want me to add to the list! Let me know in the comments below.