Dive into a world of flavors with The Vegan Lion’s varied dishes from different cultures. Owner Quin Butler offers her customers a bit of everything with different quinoa bowls that vary from being Thai-inspired, Caribbean-inspired and one that has a Mexican flair to it in addition to other meals.
As someone who has enjoyed cooking since she was 8, Butler, who was voted the Best Black Vegan Chef by Black San Diego Magazine, said she wanted to share her delicious and healthy meals with others so they can begin to learn to incorporate healthier meals into their lives.
“Going vegan and trying to live a healthier life has improved my life in a lot of different ways and I want to give back and give that feeling to as many as others,” she said.
Popular Dish: The Lion Wings Meal, which is made of air-fried oyster mushrooms battered in seasonings, and the Southern Girl Gumbo, which is made with organic mushrooms and fresh vegetables.
Quin’s favorite dish: All of them! But right now, she’s especially fond of her fajita enchiladas and black-eyed peas.
Fun fact: The Vegan Lion is part of local organization The Umoja Community, which is a network of community members who come together to improve their communities by hosting clothing drives, water distributions, community cleanups, offering education on how to grow a garden and more.
The Vegan Lion is also teaming up with Tropical Vegan Cafe, Blendees and Reda’s Ethiopian Cuisine, which are all local female, Black-owned companies, for an event that is slated to take place this spring. Details on the event will be announced on each companies’ social media.
A word from the founder: “I always tell people to have an open mind because eating healthy is something people shouldn’t be afraid to try,” Butler said. “It doesn’t take unhealthy ingredients for food to taste really good. If you have the right chef, they make anything taste good.”
Where to order: Order meal preps and a la carte items through The Vegan Lion’s website. Delivery is available for areas within a 30-mile radius of El Cajon.
The Remix SD brings savory southern dishes homecooked with love from mother-daughter duo Joann and Lori Guillory. The founders began their pop-up by serving their church and expanded by turning that into an eatery that offers BBQ chick’n, mac n’ cheeze, cornbread and other southern staples.
“This is food we eat. It’s our comfort food and we grew up eating it and it was special,” said Lori Guillory.
Adding to that, Joann Guillory said it was important to her to introduce the healthy meals to her neighborhood.
“I have a strong desire to bring health and wellness to my community in southeast San Diego,” Joann Guillory said.
Popular dish: The Jackfruit Ribs, which is made from jackfruit smothered in a savory sauce, and Fried Chick'n Oyster Mushrooms, which is oyster mushrooms covered in seasonings and fried to a delicious crunch.
Joann’s favorite dish: A combination of their foods offered as a Budha bowl.
Lori’s favorite dish: The fried oyster mushrooms and rolled tacos.
Fun fact: The Remix SD offers pre-orders and meal prep orders for customers in addition to participating in pop-up events.
A word from the founders: “My mom always says we put a lot of love into our food and we hope that’s felt when you’re enjoying your meal,” Joann Guillory said. “It’s not something that’s rushed or put out for profit. We’re here to be are a source for our community where we’re providing information on how to adjust to this lifestyle, so feel comfortable coming to us.”
“I want people to know that our food is made with love and care and we hope they can feel that,” Lori Guillory said. “We hope we can get more mobile to reach more markets.”
Where to order: The Remix SD participates in several pop-ups in San Diego. Keep up with them on their website or book them to cater your own events.
What began as a way to earn extra income to put her sons through college grew into a beloved San Diego company that pleases anyone with a sweet treat, vegan or not. Maya Madsen, founder of Maya’s Cookies, wants her customers to know that she and her crew welcome questions and love hearing about their experience with the decadent goodies.
“We focus on the quality of the ingredients and everything is artisanal and hand-scooped,” Madsen said. “Vegan or non-vegan, I think people enjoy the layers of flavors. Come on down and don’t be afraid to ask us questions.”
Popular treat: The Chocolate Chip S’mores, which is exactly what it sounds like and the recipient of PETA’s 2020 Libby Award Winner for Favorite Vegan Baked Good.
Maya’s favorite cookie: Madsen said her cookies are like her kids and she can’t just choose one over the others. She did say, however, that she’s especially enjoying the Hank Aaron cookie right now.
Fun fact: Speaking of the Hank Aaron cookie, that sweet treat belongs to Maya’s Cookies’ Black History Month Collection, which features three cookies that are made in honor of notable Black individuals. The other two cookies pay homage to National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, and actress, dancer and director, Debbie Allen.
A word from the founder: “My catchphrase is, ‘Cookies make people happy,’ and it’s so fun when people come to our shop and we see them driving off while eating a cookie,” Madsen said. “It’s so fun to see them smiling.”
Where to order: Maya’s Cookies can be purchased at the farmer’s market it participates in, online and at their flagship baking location at 4760 Mission Gorge Pl. in San Diego.
You can get lost in a sea of flavor with Tropical Vegan Cafe, a local eatery that offers kebabs, cauliflower wings, vegan oxtails and more. Founder Geannie Hyacinthe got her start in the food scene in June 2019, originally serving dishes that contained meat and dairy products but seeing a demand in vegan options opened her eyes to a new fanbase.
“As I did research and recipe-testing my favorite foods, my stomach started declining animal products naturally and that pivoted my business model,” Hyacinthe said. “Now, I’m selling all vegan food and getting the community inspired to eat better and healthier.”
Popular dish: The Jerk Calamari and Jerk Cauliflower wings, which are served with Tropical Vegan Cafe’s Island Platter.
Geannie’s favorite dish: She agrees with her customers and said the Jerk Cauliflower and Jerk Calamari are her favorites.
Fun fact: Tropical Vegan Cafe is a partner of NAACP San Diego Branch’s ACT-SO program, which focuses on helping African-American high school students by encouraging them to pursue higher education and help them participate in competitions that vary in sectors from the arts, business, STEM and humanities.
Part of the culinary arts team, Tropical Vegan Cafe hosts monthly fundraisers for the program and regularly donates to ACT-SO.
A word from the founder: “What inspires me to make this is my background and that there’s not a lot of Caribbean restaurants in San Diego,” Hyacinthe said. “And I just want people to feel a more cultural dining experience.”
Where to order: Tropical Vegan Cafe is reopening on Feb. 10 with a pop-up at Ocean Beach. The eatery will also be operating from a new kitchen in El Cajon to provide pick—up orders and delivery via UberEats. Click here to keep up with the latest.
Rollin Roots offers four mouthwatering entrees that are available as a sandwich, loaded fries or as a rice bowl to give their customers exactly what they want. From spicy to tangy flavors, founder Avonte Hartsfield makes sure the public can find something they can enjoy at his eatery.
“I hope people can see how great tasting vegan food could be and how accessible it could be,” he said. “I try to tailor my menu around any allergens and not use any fake meats, but also make it good food to say that this is comfort food, that this is something I can eat every day.”
The food truck initially got its start as a pop-up at farmer’s markets before the pandemic, and it was once on the brink of closing. Fortunately, it is now thriving and Hartsfield is brainstorming ways to expand, including possibly adding a second food truck.
Popular dish: The Mac N Cheese Balls. These deep-fried goodies come with a dipping sauce and are available as a buffalo style under Rollin Roots’ secret menu.
Avonte’s favorite dish: The Daikon Love. This Bahn mi-inspired dish is layered with pickled vegetables, a mixture of pulled oats and mushroom that imitates beef and plenty of other nosh-worthy additions.
Fun fact: Rollin Roots offers a pay-what-you-can option for those who are experiencing difficulties, no questions asked.
“I know there are millions of people not working right now, who can’t afford to feed their kids,” Hartsfield said. “I’m trying to make sure people can eat.”
The option is sustained by customers who pay full price for their meals.
A word from the founder: “Just like there’s a McDonald’s everywhere, you should be able to get a vegan burger for $2,” Hartsfield said. “I want to make vegan food available to the masses.”
Where to order: You can order Rollin Roots online and in person at their food truck, which is located at 8040 Armour St., San Diego, CA 92111. Rollin Roots can also be booked for catering events.
Breakfast time? Look no further than to Spoiled Vegans Cafe for a hearty sandwich or rich sausages wrapped in waffles that are vegan and cruelty free. This eatery, which was founded by co-owners Todd Anderson and Samantha Aaron, serves as a perfect brunch option during the weekends.
“We want to use Spoiled Vegans to break barriers,” Anderson said. “The biggest takeaway is that I want people to walk away and slowly tear down that mental block of vegan food.”
Popular dish: The Spoil Yourself REMIX, which is made of vegan sausage, eggs, melted cheddar, house-made maple chipotle and an air-fried hash brown all sandwiched in two sourdough slices that’s reminiscent of a McMuffin.
Todd’s favorite dish: The Buffalo Chik’n Breakfast Sandwich – a zesty and spicy McMuffin-like sandwich that features hand-breaded and season buffalo chik-n.
Fun fact: Anderson spent three years traveling and filming different vegan foods before Spoiled Vegans Cafe started. He now uses his videography skills to share his own vegan recipes on his social media accounts. You can find him and his tutorials on Instagram and TikTok under @turnipvegan.
A word from the co-owner: “I would love non-vegans to feel more open-minded to try more vegan foods so they can see it tastes good,” Anderson said. “I see us taking Spoiled Vegans to next level and trying to get to communities that need more plant-based options.”
Where to order: Orders for Spoiled Vegans Cafe can be made online. The eatery is open Friday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for pick-up only right now.