Is This City the Capital of Vegan Dining in America?
Our guide to the perfect weekend in Oakland, the most unexpected capital of meat-free cuisine.
While it may come as a surprise to some that the most groundbreaking meat-free cuisine isn’t coming out of historically hippie communities like Berkeley or Santa Cruz, this multicultural melting pot makes for some of the most exciting plant-based cuisine, from soul food to Singaporean and everything in between.
Grab a bike from Bay Wheels and pack your appetite for a delicious 48 hours on the bright side of the Bay.
Start your day with pour-overs and plant-based pastries at Timeless Coffee, a roastery and bakery that’s been serving the vegan community since 2012. While the offerings in Oakland have greatly expanded, thanks to the path they and other folks like Millennium have paved, these delicious doughnuts, cakes, and baked goods still stand the test of time.
Keep things fresh at Roasted and Raw, where fitness-obsessed chef Imani Greer makes balanced, healthful burgers and bowls that taste great whether you’re a life- long vegan, experimenting with flexitarianism, or just integrating more veg into your diet. While many vegan spots focus on fried comfort foods that are treats even without the meat, here you’ll find delicious black-bean burgers and empanadas that leave you feeling sated and energized for the afternoon ahead.
Gather the squad and head to Emporium Arcade Bar. Inside, the good vibes are rivaled only by La Venganza’s head-scratchingly delicious renditions of carne asada and carnitas—both soy-based—that leave you wondering why anyone even bothers eating meat anymore when plant-based can taste so good.
Get ready to rest your head at Kissel Oakland. The hotel’s High 5ive Bar has a rooftop with excellent views, carefully crafted cocktails, and a vegan tart whose fruit fillings shift with the seasons. The rooms are thoughtfully designed and ultra-cozy, and the lobby restaurant, Otto’s, also has great brekkie options, like overnight oats made with coconut and almond milk, as well as a county line morning bowl loaded with all sorts of locally farmed produce.
Owned by Tamearra Dyson, Souley Vegan is a staple in the Oakland vegan community, and for good reason. Creole classics like crispy “ain’t gator” po’ boys and rich, flavorful jazzin’ jambalaya are miraculously made without the use of pork, yet still maintain all that soul-hugging goodness. Don’t forget to pick up a mini sweet potato pie for the flight home; you’ll be the envy of your seatmates as you enjoy it with a cup of coffee.
You’ll want to reserve a table in the outdoor parklet at Lion Dance Cafe, which breathes new life into family Teochew recipes and classic Singaporean hawker favorites. Flavor-packed Southeast Asian dishes make use of house ferments and many dishes, including the outstanding laksa, are made both gluten- and nut-free as well. If the spicy, umami-rich fried oyster mushroom goreng is on the menu, it’s not to be missed.