Where To/Not Eat For Vegans and Vegetarians in Downtown La Jolla, California

{Where To/Not Eat For Vegetarians
in Downtown La Jolla, California}

Thai food: We walked to Aroi Cafe, a spunky Thai restaurant with a somewhat diner feel. This place is very vegan and vegetarian friendly. The vegetarian fresh rolls were tasty, and they can make their curries mild for anyone who doesn’t like food that’s too spicy. We were a party of 4 adults and ordered 1 app and 2 entrees, plus 1 order of rice and we were stuffed!

Mexican Food: Don Carlos Taco Shop is the famous Mexican, hole in the wall in La Jolla. The portions that are so huge you won’t eat for the rest of the day after enjoying a burrito or even the chips and salsa! They serve authentic Mexican coke and if you speak Spanish, it’s helpful in case you need to customize your order at all. Very vegan and vegetarian friendly. Just specify that you don’t want cheese and eggs. Their meals are delicious without it! Below are some handy Spanish phrases and vocabulary for vegans and vegetarians.

Italian FoodOlive & Basil Italian Restaurant: The location is brilliant – upstairs with ocean views. Their vegetarian and vegan options were VERY limited entrees. They had a couple salads but after a long day in the sun and beach activities we were looking for more hearty meals. The next time I go back to La Jolla, I’ll probably skip this place and might try the Indian place downstairs – Taste of Himalayas.

In a party of 5 adults, 4 of us ordered the Olive & Basil pasta and 1 person ordered the Veg Med which is a combo of falafel, dolmas, quinoa Greek salad – she was the only one who liked her dish. The rest of us found the pasta oily and bland.

Breakfast for vegans and vegetarians: Living Room Coffeehouse. This large cafe is just a few doors down from La Grande Colonial. They have a huge menu with vegan and vegetarian items – but to be honest better for vegetarians than vegans.

We tried the muffins, croissants, granola with yogurt and fruit, toast and coffee – and we enjoyed all of it. The cozy ambience is nice. True to its name, you feel like you’re in your living room with the sofa tables as well as traditional seating with ocean views. We liked it so much that we went back the next day too.

The Living Room Cafe’s service kinda meh. The area that could use improvement is their service. They messed up our order both days but we were nice about it and so were they. It was surprising though, as they weren’t very busy either day.

  • They ask you if you want them to leave room for cream and sugar in your coffee, which I really appreciated but then…they don’t actually leave room.
  • When you order from the menu they bring the food to your table. But if you order any of the pre-made baked items like muffins or cookies they forget to bring that too. That happened to us both days.
  • We asked for peanut butter in addition jam and butter that their toast came with. They forgot the peanut butter.
  • Both days we ate at the restaurant and ordered coffees. On the 2nd day, we ordered 3 coffees and for some reason, on the 2nd day they served 1 of the 3 – in a mug instead of a to-go cup. The day before they had served all of them in to-go cups. I didn’t think it was a big deal so I didn’t say anything. But after 5 minutes my MIL complained that her coffee was cold. Rather than complain with the staff, I just ordered her a new coffee and specified a to-go cup. I wish they would have asked how we wanted it served especially when it’s inconsistent.

We looked up other restaurants in the area but they were either a bit further away or the menus didn’t suit our tastes. The good news is that there are more options than ever for vegans and vegetarians!

The day we went snorkeling we went to La Jolla shores and all along Avenida de la Playa were tons of really cute restaurants and cafes. We didn’t stop at any, as we wanted to go to Don Carlos’s Taco Shop, but if you’re headed there and staying in La Jolla Shores (vs. La Jolla Village), definitely check it out.

Just strolling along the Avenida and discovering all the little shops, restaurants, and gelaterias is part of the whole fun!

{Spanish Phrases for Vegans and Vegetarians}

I am vegetarian: Yo soy vegetariano

We are vegetarian: Somos vegetariano

I am vegan: Yo soy vegano

We are vegan: somos vegano

I don’ t eat meat and dairy: No como carne y lecheria

We don’t eat meat and dairy: No comemos carne y lecheria

I don’t eat meat, fish, chicken and eggs: No como carne, pescado, pollo y huevos.

We don’t eat meat, fish, chicken and eggs: No comemos carne, pescado, pollo y huevos.

I don’t eat meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy: No como carne, pescado, pollo, huevos y lecheria.

We don’t eat meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy: No comemos carne, pescado, pollo, huevos y lecheria.

Can I please order a burrito without meat, fish, chicken and eggs: Por favor una burrito sin carne, pescado, pollo y huevos.

Can I please order a burrito with beans, cheese, and vegetables: Por favor una burrito con frijoles, queso, y vegetales

Can I please order a burrito with beans and vegetables and without cheese and meat: Por favor una burrito con frijoles y vegetales, sin queso y sin carne.

{General Spanish Vocabulary for Vegans and Vegetarians}

Use phrases above to order enchiladas, tacos, tamales etc. Just replace burrito, with whatever you’re ordering.

Sin = without. So if you don’t want something i.e. meat, fish, cheese, dairy, chicken, eggs, use sin + ___________ (carne, pescado, queso, lecheria, pollo, huevos).

Esta bien = it’s good, or it’s ok. For example if you’re vegetarian but not vegan and  someone asks you if cheese is ok, you can reply with “si, queso esta bien” (yes, cheese is ok).

Meat = carne

Chicken = pollo (some people around the world don’t consider chicken meat so it’s a good idea to specifically state that you don’t want chicken in addition to meat.)

Fish = pescado

Eggs = huevos

Dairy = lecheria

Milk = leche

Almond milk = leche de almendra

Soy milk = leche de soja

Cheese = queso


I hope this article has been helpful to you and inspired your visit to La Jolla! There are lots and lots of great places for vegetarians and vegans. You might have to do a bit more digging, but most vegans and vegetarians are used to that!

Definitely take advantage of the Spanish phrases and vocab – speaking in Spanish changes the whole dynamic of the conversation!

If you are planning to go or end up going, definitely comment and share your stories, recommendations and photos! Especially if you end up going to any of these restaurants and/or used any of the Spanish!

Bien Viaje! Happy Travels!


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