Herbivore in San Francisco

Stumptown Vegans Travel, and return.

Date: October 4, 2007
Revisited March 2009
Times Visited: 2

Although it was generally the restaurant I was advised NOT to visit in San Francisco, I hit up Herbivore.: The Earthly Grill for breakfast one morning. Those who did recommend it did so with a grain of salt, and I was forewarned of the prices. I decided to go with the Basil pesto tofu scramble plate ($8.75), since I had spent the past few days eating fruit and tea for breakfast at a convention. My wary grew when ordering; I inquired as to what was actually in the scramble, and was told “some spice mix, I think it’s called Earth Balance“. Personally I don’t know anything about a spice mix of that name, just the golden margarine. I was there to give it a try, so I sipped on my teeny, tiny, but fresh, mimosa, enjoying the people watching outside on Mission St.

When my tofu scramble plate, and side of tempeh bacon ($3.25) came to the table, I was overwhelmed. The scramble plate included a heap of greenish porridge (the tofu), potatoes, toast and a container of jam. Upon looking at the scramble, I knew I had to take a leap of faith, or hunger – and I was positively surprised. While I had never had a scramble quite like it, the herby pesto flavor was tasty as heck, and the consistency issue was quickly overcome. I scooped up a couple bites on the thick toast, though I didn’t dig the pesto/jam combination, I could already picture myself ordering this again. The jam wasn’t memorable, and I couldn’t discern the fruit origin. The second best part of the plate was the potatoes – There was a very decent amount of the perfectly salted potatoes: nice and crispy on the outside, and well cooked on the inside – how often does that happen? The tempeh bacon was at room temperature, and though the flavor was sweet and salty – it wasn’t something I’d opt for again. I like mine warm and crispy.

Bottom line, I would return to Herbivore. It was conveniently located in the Mission St. area nearby Ritual Coffee, where I also stopped. I would also probably order the same thing, minus the tempeh bacon. Portland does breakfast so well that I did have to focus at first on keeping warm thoughts of Vita, Junior’s, Jam, and Beaterville out of my mind, and remembering I was out of town. The experience didn’t knock my socks off, but it did satisfy, and didn’t disappoint.

Brief Update:
The other Stumptown Vegan found herself at Herbivore while searching for pancakes on a lazy Saturday morning. (People in San Francisco are not as serious about breakfast as us Portlanders are – the place was empty until 10am!)

The doughnuts were great cake doughnuts. It was odd they were served with blemished, poorly sliced pears. The breakfast burrito was a bit borning with beans, salsa, tempeh. The two blueberry pancakes were thick, and not cooked fully, leaving the center a bit gooey. Also, they were not sweet. This pancake fanatic will not be ordering these again.

Next time I’m in SanFrancisco I will check-out Weird Fish for some rumored great pancakes.

Pesto tofu scramble and house potatoes

Tempeh bacon



Blueberry Doughnut

Chocolate Doughnut

Breakfast Burrito

Blueberry and Banana Pancakes
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
983 Valencia
San Francisco, CA 94110

415.826.5657 phone
Sun-Thurs. 9am-10pm, Fri & Sat. 9am-11pm


15 responses to “Herbivore in San Francisco

  1. When I was in San Fran a couple years ago, I hit up Millenium (http://www.millenniumrestaurant.com/)…it was a bit pricey, but the food an ambiance was amazing. Of course, this was before I moved to Portland and realized that classy vegetarian restaurants aren’t a myth…so my perception may have been a bit skewed.

  2. The tofu pesto looks interesting! I am really jealous of your SF travels! I want to go so bad!

    BTW – speaking of Jam. I have been meaning to check it out!

  3. DeepCerulean – I do regret not going to Millenium, but next time, it’s a must.

    Megan – Enjoy Jam! Especially their strawberry-mango and pear chai..

  4. i once tried to go to Jam…..they were closed….
    dude, that pesto scramble looks so weird, glad to hear it was tasty though.
    jd, you going to Wayward Cafe while in Seattle(or is that Webs that’s going there?)?

  5. Seattle suggestions:
    Pizza Pi in Seattle is 100% vegan (i went there almost 3 years ago, so call first to make sure they’re still vegan and there!)
    Pizza Pi is located at 5500 University Way NE, Seattle. The phone number is (206) 343-1415.

    And of course, Mighty O Donuts!!

  6. I’m surprised to hear that people tried to steer you away from Herbivore… it’s one of my favorite places to eat when I’m up north. Sure it’s not cheap, but what is in S.F? Everything I’ve tried there has always been excellent (at the newish Berkeley location as well), and I would give up my firstborn for a months supply of their cornbread (if I had a firstborn that is). Also their faux-shawarma is the bomb!

  7. thanks for the tips, Anna!

    foodeater – I was strongly recommended Fellini for brunch, but as I was there on a weekday and not a weekend, I opted for Herbivore and I’m glad I gave it a chance.

  8. I also had the pesto tofu scramble the last time I was in San Fran and I thought it was great. But then, I love anything with basil in it!

  9. Fellini is awesome as well… hope you can get back there to try it too! I had their vegan brunch (tofu scramble with faux sausage) and it was all kinds of awesome.

  10. i have to advocate a little bit for herbivore. i live in portland and can’t really think of a vegetarian restaurant that i think is better than herbivore.

    I have to urge you to go back for a meal other than breakfast. They have some wonderful lunch and dinner choices and I think pretty reasonable prices. In particular their homemade vegan ravioli with creamy marinara sauce is wonderful. Also I really enjoy their selection of sandwiches that come with a great fresh side salad AND potatoes.

    So, please give them another chance for a meal other than breakfast next time you are in San Francisco!

  11. While we’re talking about other good vegan restaurants in SF, I recommend Alive! (exclamation point included). Most of the menu is raw, and my (omni) dining companion and I were both extremely impressed and satisfied by our meals. It’s worth checking out next time you are in the city.

  12. i heartily reccommend Weird Fish! It was the best vegan meal of my life! I am so sad that Portland does not have one here 😦

    there were so many vegan fish options/vegan options in general it was hard to choose from! but i am assuming all of them are amazing. the cheesecake was the best cheesecake i’ve ever had!

  13. Herbivore is great for brunch and anytime really. I don’t find it that pricey. There are so many places in SF that have vegan options for breakfast. Actually, my favorite tofu scramble is from Squat & Gobble. From my impressions, it seems that Portland does more simple American Vegan fare pretty well but I doubt it can compete with San Francisco when it comes to vegan culinary delights. Try Burma Superstar in the Richmond District next time if you want to have socks knocked off.

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