Dining

7 Hotspot Coffee Shops with Vegan Options

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By: Anna Keeve

These days, a coffee shop demands so much more than just a hot cup of brew: Ambiance, pastry selection, scene, service, seating options…and its ability to cater to all food preferences. For those seeking plant-based options – either for themselves or to accommodate their guests – it can be disappointing to arrive and find no food options, or a pore selection of vegan-friendly drinks. The good news is, San Diego is a burgeoning plant-based foodie scene and many coffee shops have quickly caught on.

San Diego is one of the most populace cities for coffee joints, ranking 6th in the nation (beating out our neighbor to the north Los Angeles, ranked 13th). But in a coffee climate of abundant choice, how does one filter out the dull and uncover the cool…and most importantly satisfy any and all dietary preferences? Use this guide to discover the perfect coffee hotspot with that will be sure to please anyone.

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

This ultra-cool coffeehouse has more than just handcrafted coffees made by skilled baristas; it’s also filled with freshly made vegan donuts and pastries delivered daily from SPLIT Bakehouse (a bakery that specializes in vegan pastries). You’ll also find Dark Horse whipping up a mean avocado toast and a variety of other breakfast items. Since their humble beginnings in Normal Heights, they’ve expanded to North Park, Golden Hill, and La Mesa. Note, seating is limited in Normal Heights, North Park, and La Mesa, but the Golden Hill location has ample indoor and outdoor seating – plus its pup friendly.

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

There is a reason this San Diego-based coffee roaster was named to Forbes’ Best Coffee Roaster list. The company takes deep pride in their bean procurement, working directly with farmers to secure great coffee. Beyond the bean, they offer a modest selection of pastries, including a selection of award-winning vegan cookies from Maya’s Cookies (eat one there, and grab a few to go) and delicious vegan banana bread.

The original La Jolla location in the coastal Bird Rock ‘hood boasts an airy laidback vibe with plentiful indoor tables but sparse outdoor seating with a heavy uptick of out-of-towners on weekends. The Little Italy location sits at the north end of the strip with indoor and outdoor seating. After you fuel up at Bird Rock Little Italy, pop over two blocks to Stroll and Stroll Home one of the hidden-gem boutiques tucked away on India St.  

The Forum Coffee House

It’s officially time for a coffee renaissance in Clairemont; The Forum Coffee House may be the first to deliver. Burrowed in a small shopping center, The Forum serves a plethora of creative and colorful drink options, all computer inspired, like the 404 Error, Override and Apache, and most non-dairy (or with the option). They also are known for their hearty “toasts” of which there are many selections. Seating is plentiful inside but heavily populated with college students making it tough to grab a table at peak times.

Communal Coffee

North Park is no stranger to coffee hotspots and Communal Coffee competes with the best of them. Drawing in a trendy millennial crowd, the airy and feminine ambiance will hurl you to your happy place. While they don’t procure or roast their own beans, they do serve San Francisco’s very popular Sightglass Coffee. Grab a friend, a Matcha Latte and lavender-glazed vegan donut, and catch some sun on their flower adorned outdoor patio.

Moe Coffee

This super cute coffee shop is set in a residential area in Bankers Hill. Their small-batch micro-roasted beans produce a strong and flavorful cup of brew; you won’t even need the almond milk. The best part about Moe just might be the pastries from local plant-based bakery Hazel & Jade, known by vegan foodies as some of the best around. Enjoy your coffee and pastry on their quaint outdoor patio. Dogs are welcome!

Subterranean Coffee Boutique North Park

For ample space to spread out and work or study, Subterranean Coffee Boutique can be your new best friend. They have a large selection of clearly marked vegan options including pastries, a killer Vegan Bagel sandwich, plus other salads, wraps and bowls. If you are pulling an all-day work sesh you will be well taken care of between the robust menu and friendly staff.  

Parakeet Cafe

If you are seeking a coffee shop with a bit extra, look no further. At Parakeet, you are greeted with a multitude of options like specialty drinks, like their Magic Mushroom Matcha and Immortality Latte, and options for coffee ad-on list lavender syrup.  The food options range from salads, bowls, soups and toasts along with a number of other traditional breakfast items La Jolla, Little Italy and Del Mar.  Vegan items are clearly marked, making it easy to find something suited to your preference.


Anna Keeve is the founder of PlantBasedPopUp, a dining experience company that host vegan food and wine pairing dinners at top restaurants. Keeve is also a contributor to a number of publications covering plant-based foods and the vegan lifestyle. Follow on Instagram, @LifesAlternateRoute

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