Oakland has flirted with vegan food for generations.
Popularized within the African Diaspora alongside the rise of the Black Panther and Black Muslim movements in the 1960s, and further crystallized by influxes of immigrant communities from India and Southeast Asia who avoided animal products, the East Bay was one of the first places in the country to embrace meat-free cuisine.
Today, as more of us are looking to decrease our meat consumption for ecological or health reasons, Oakland has stepped up to feed our hunger. Plant-based eateries have blossomed to include more than 20 restaurants, taquerias, bakeries, and coffee shops across the city. Find them all on Oakland’s Vegan Trail, a plant-based treasure map that stretches from Piedmont to Jack London Square.
Here are 10 vegan restaurants in Oakland to put on your list.
(Courtesy of @milleniumrestaurant)
Chef-owner Eric Tucker opened his pioneering haute-vegan restaurant Millennium in San Francisco almost 30 years ago. When they lost their lease in 2015, veggie-forward eaters across the city collectively held their breath wondering whether the restaurant would be forever gone. Instead, Tucker found the popular Millennium a new home across the bay in Rockridge where it has thrived ever since. Turning out dishes like coriander- and arborio-crusted oyster mushrooms, green garlic polenta cakes with red-wine porcini puree, and coconut glazed tempeh with pluot, turmeric, and lemongrass adobo even earned the restaurant a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Visit on a Friday or Saturday for the four-course prix fixe menu.// Open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday; 5912 College Ave. (Oakland), millenniumrestaurant.com
(Courtesy of @souleyvegan)
We have long been huge fans of Tamearra Dyson’s Creole-style vegan magic (seriously, how is her southern fried tofu so good?!). While many more recent additions to the plant-based scene rely on processed fake meats and cheeses, everything at Souley Vegan is housemade, from the Louisiana hot links to the okra gumbo. If you can’t decide what on the generous menu looks best, a combination plate with a choice of sides like creamy mashed potatoes, sweet potato biscuits, cinnamon brown sugar yams, and black olive potato salad ought to do the trick.// Open for lunch and dinner, closed Mondays; 301 Broadway (Oakland), souleyvegan.com
Bare Knuckle Pizza
(Courtesy of @bareknucklepizza)
The crispy Neapolitan-style pizzas at Bare Knuckle ditch animal products for plant-based ones that, while they may not taste exactly like real pepperoni and mozzarella, are a pretty damn good approximation. They have more than a dozen styles of both the classic and creative variety, including a cherry pie made with vegan mozzarella and feta, dried cherries, and agave. Since all pies are personal size, pizza lovers unwilling to part with dairy can still satisfy their craving—Bare Knuckle offers most of their pies with a vegan option, not a vegan requirement.// Open for to-go orders only, 4pm and 8:30pm Thursday through Saturday; 351 12th St. (Oakland), bareknucklepizza.com
Vegan Donut Gelato
(Courtesy of @vegandonutsgelato)
Full disclosure—Vegan Donut Gelato does not (currently) sell gelato but no matter, their vegan donuts are more than enough to drool over. The little Lake Merritt bakery sells moist, cakey plant-based donuts that come glazed, filled, or frosted with flavors like lemon, maple, and matcha alongside apple fritters, cinnamon rolls, bear claws, and donut holes. Walk away with half a dozen of the sweet, sugary baked goods plus an organic coffee for just $15.// Closed Monday and Tuesday; 411 E. 18th St. (Oakland), vegandonutsgelato.com
Lion Dance Cafe
(Courtesy of @liondancecafe)
CY Chia and Shane Stanbridge took the success of their acclaimed pop up, S+M Vegan, brick-and-mortar in 2020, anointing the Chinese-Singaporean concept the Lion Dance Cafe. The Uptown restaurant reimagines traditional regional dishes through a plant-based lens—adding jackfruit to Indonesian rendang, fried maitake and oyster mushrooms to goreng, and tofu puffs to laksa. Thursdays, their award-winning brined and braised tofu nuggets take center stage while the shaobing sandwich, a smoked tofu scallion and potato fritter delight the SF Chronicle named the best in the Bay, is available Saturdays.// Closed December 24 through January 12; 380 17th St. (Oakland), liondancecafe.com
Taqueria La Venganza
(Courtesy of @veganfatkid)
Chef Raul Medina turned his back on the meat he’d grown up with as a kid in Mexico, but he couldn’t turn his back on the food of his homeland. So, he came up with new, plant-based ways to make dishes like tripe tacos, pressed chicharron, and carnitas that he knew and loved. At La Venganza, his meat-free tacos, burritos, and nachos have all the flavor and mouth-feel of their traditional counterparts without the guilt.// Find pop-up times on Google Maps; 1805 Telegraph Ave., inside Emporium Arcade Bar (Oakland), venganzafoods.com
(Courtesy of @malibusburgers)
One of the most joyful things about the recent plant-based revolution is the sudden availability of vegan junk food that is just as delicious as its meat-and-dairy-based counterparts. Case in point: Malibu’s Burgers, an animal-free joint dedicated to the art of big, juicy burgers, savory Philly cheesesteaks, perfectly fried chicken sandwiches, and one of the most mind-blowing breakfast sandwiches we’ve ever seen (a stunner stuffed with pancakes, hash browns, vegan eggs and cheese, and your choice of plant-based protein they call the MaThizzle). A wide variety of housemade sauces, from sriracha aioli to raspberry habanero, kick their sandwiches up to 11, and are ideal for dunking fries and tots.// Closed Sunday and Monday; 3905 Piedmont Ave. (Oakland), malibusburgers.com
(Courtesy of Golden Lotus/Oakland Vegan Trail)
For more than 25 years, Golden Lotus has been a Chinatown mainstay. The family-run restaurant specializes in fusion spanning the Asian continent from east to south. On their extensive menu you’ll find favorites like pho, chow mein, claypot, and curries made with fresh vegetables, tofu, and a wide variety of vegan meats. Get the biggest bang for your buck on weekdays, when the lunch buffet lays out some of their most popular dishes.
// Open Tuesday through Sunday; 1301 Franklin St. (Oakland), goldenlotusvegan.co
(Courtesy of @kerryeatsworld)
Temescal’s neighborhood ice cream parlor, Curbside Creamery, is as sweet as they come. Seven days a week they scoop both dairy-based and cashew-based flavors like salted caramel, lemon cream, and earl grey tea, as well as two weekly rotating soft serve options. Get them in a sugar, cake, or waffle cone or, better yet, sandwiched between a couple of cookies or heaped on a slice of one of two daily vegan pies. There is, quite literally, no way you can go wrong!// Open daily; 482 49th St. (Oakland), curbsideoakland.com
Fed up with soy-based and lab-made proteins, mother-daughter team Mieko Scott and Kamari Quinones created their own meaty alternative from ground walnuts. While you can pick up a bag to bring home, it’s a lot more fun to let the duo fashion it into their own tried-and-true recipes. The ever-changing menu dabbles in a variety of cuisines, and includes treats like hard-shell tacos and burgers.// Closed Wednesdays, online ordering only; 3645 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (Oakland), exploretock.com