Guide to Vegetarian Friendly Restaurants in San Jose California

San Jose, California is a great place to be a vegetarian. At the cutting edge of technology, the Silicon Valley, is also known as a healthy place to live. When people meet to eat and visit, it may be vegetable chips and hummus dips they discuss as much as computer chips. The fertile Santa Clara County provides much of the fresh produce so readily available. Add in restaurant owners who embrace turning nature’s bounty into meat-free healthy meals and you have a combination blessed by Nature. Here are some San Jose restaurants who excel in coloring vegetarian and vegan delicious.

The Vegetarian House, 520 E. Santa Clara St. (408-292-3798) offers an all vegan menu along with Chinese, Vietnamese, and International choices. Everything is prepared with organic ingredients and their bakery has vegan cakes and desserts. Even meat lovers favor this restaurant because the food is so good, and once, the connection has been made that meat doesn’t have to be part of a meal, the visitor is likely to make that choice again. The Vegetarian House also serves Mediterranean food but the Asian choices are the most popular. Favorites include Mu Shu Rolls, Happy Crispy Rice, and if you still have room: vegan cheesecake for dessert.

Dandelion Vegetarian Caf, 322 E. Santa Clara St. (408-288-6788). Following the Asian tradition of food pictures in the window, the Dandelion Vegetarian Caf has a picture menu which takes the mystery out of ordering. You’ll find plenty of vegetarian and vegan choices at this small but popular downtown spot. It’s a little more Vietnamese than Chinese with an emphasis on noodle bowls and wonderful spices. Prices are inexpensive. A noodle bowl with steaming, savory broth, fresh veggies, earthy mushrooms, and strips of bean curds is $6 and gives you enough for an extra meal or two at home. Their desserts are extraordinary such as Pulat Hitaum, rice pudding made with black rice in a pool of creamy white sauce.

Di Da, 2597 Senter Rd. (408-998-8826). Di Da is a tiny restaurant tucked into the corner of a Vietnamese shopping center but its following is large. Get there early and enjoy some of the best and most reasonably-priced vegetarian food in San Jose. Of special note are the clay pot dishes such as fish rolls or mushroom and tofu; be prepared for a hot and steamy flavorful meal. One of the favorite items is the Jackfruit salad. Jackfruit is a sweet yellow fleshy fruit native to South and Southeast Asia. It’s somewhat similar to pineapple but milder and less juicy. Add this delightful dish as a side to a spicy curry and you’re in for a taste bud treat.

The Blue Mango, 4996 Stevens Creek Blvd. (408-248-7191). Voted the best Thai vegetarian restaurant in Silicon Valley several years in a row, The Blue Mango serves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Items like Bamboo Mountain and Devoted Vegetables top the favorites list, but one of the biggest draw to this convenient restaurant near the Valley Fair Mall is its wonderful dessert menu. If you’ve never had a mango samosa with coconut ice cream, made with sticky rice and mango, then fried and served with coconut ice cream and chocolate sauce, this is the place to try it and you definitely should. The Blue Mango also serves up live jazz once a week.

Fresh Choice is a buffet chain with two locations in San Jose: 5353 Almaden Expressway, Suite 39A and 1600 Saratoga Ave. Known for their expansive salad bar and tasty soups, Fresh Choice offers many choices for vegetarians. It’s a great place to go with a group who has differing diet choices. You can pile your plate high with steamed broccoli, lemon cucumbers, and tofu dishes and/or you make your own little bowl of Pho with the many ingredients. This is not a place for a quiet, romantic dinner as lots of families with children come here, but it is a place with a lot of selections to satisfy almost anyone.

Good Karma Vegan Deli, 37 S First St. (408-294-2694). This is a great place to eat in or take out. Good Karma has over a dozen unique tofu and faux meat dishes that can be served with rice, on a toasted French roll, wrapped in a tortilla, or tossed in a salad. You must try the Sweet Ginger Tofu, the Lemongrass Tofu, and the Vegan fried chicken. Good Karma ranks high with business people and marathon runners alike as they’re both looking for nutritious delicious dishes to keep them going.

If you’re having a party at home, be sure to order some of their hummus dips: basil pesto, cucumber and dill, spicy fire roasted red pepper, and mint just to name a few.

Popular with the arts crowd, Good Karma hosts acoustic performances every Thursday at 8 p.m. and art show receptions the first Friday of the month.

These are just a few of the many vegetarian and vegan options in San Jose. Resident or visitor, count yourself lucky to have so many great choices.