This year, San Francisco’s Millennium restaurant topped our list of The 25 Best Vegetarian Restaurants in the World — which is an amazing feat for a restaurant that is 100 percent vegan. Beyond that, San Francisco Magazine claims that the sophisticated and creative vegan fare at Millennium “intrigues even the most devoted carnivores among us.”
In order to discover the best vegan restaurant in the world, we started by looking at vegetarian restaurants that have a proven history of success. We researched restaurants that had garnered accolades, awards, and positive press, and consulted forums like TripAdvisor and Yelp to gain insight into the experiences of everyday customers. Creativity is key. As all-star chef Alex Guarnaschelli told us in an interview, “The era of slapping together a bunch of vegetables if a vegan comes through your doors is coming to an end.”
So what exactly makes Millennium the best vegan restaurant in the world? Is it that you have to make reservations 60 days in advance? Is it their seasonal menus, with options like pistachio-crusted Portobello mushrooms and black garlic and sweet soy-glazed tempeh and shaved butternut squash pad Thai? Or is it their out-of-this-world crème brûlée with lemongrass, saffron, and rosé cream? While taste alone would propel Millennium up there to the top, what truly sets it apart is the seriousness and respect with which the chefs treat their ingredients and the elegant setting that still manages to keep its chilled-out San Francisco vibe. Diners aren’t simply getting a vegan experience; they’re getting an experience, period.
Menu highlights this season include roasted fingerling potatoes with burnt orange, chile Urfa aïoli, and black cardamom salt; potato, fava green, and masa griddle cakes with blood orange salsa; juniper and mustard seed-glazed tempeh with black eyed pea chow chow; and a side of volcano rice that goes well with everything on the menu. As for dessert, we are eyeing the poached peach-mezcal sorbet and Meyer lemon curd pie with lavender cream and rhubarb compote.