This area has seen an incredible influx of veggie places over the past few years. Good news for vegetarians, vegans and anyone who wants to eat a heathier, more compassionate diet. Nowadays, you can get a veggie dish most anywhere with the most innovative, abundant choices coming seeming to come from ethnic restaurants. I've selected some of the area's best all veg or largely veg below.
Downtown Palo Alto welcomed the oddly-named but delicious food-making, all-vegan, Loving Hut on University Ave. Favorites include the Crumbed Sensation starter (how the heck do they make those things so shrimp-like?), The Pesto Divine sandwich and Shepherd's Pie. You can't go wrong with any of their rotating soups of the day. Wash it all down with a Thai Iced Tea (tapioca bubbles optional) and piece of whatever vegan cake they have on hand. The atmosphere is casual and cafe-like. A great place for lunch after shopping on University or taking in a movie at the Stanford Theater.
While not strictly vegetarian, California Avenue's Mediterranean Wraps offers extensive vegan and vegetarian choices. I used to work close by here and loved coming in to the gents behind the counter saying "Hello, lady. Here is a falafel for you", holding out a fresh from the fryer, hot falafel in a square of waxed paper. It was just like being back in New York. Standouts here include the garlicky lentil soup, fantastic for pita-dunking. The Vegetarian Combo Plate includes heaping portions of hummus, falafel, tabouleh, baba ghannoush, dolma, Mediterranean salad, and pita bread for under $10 (plenty for two). My favorite is the Falafel Deluxe Wrap with falafel, Mediterranean salad, freshly cooked eggplants, potatoes, and tahini sauce. Check and see if they have any of their Spinach Pies on the counter before you pay. These triangles of vegan deliciousness are not to be missed! There is limited seating in their small, casual space but the place does a robust take-out business.
Further down the Peninsula a bit in Mountain View on El Camino is Garden Fresh making outstanding vegan Chinese food. The portions are generous, the prices are fantastic and the service is some of the friendliest you'll find in the area. You won't miss the meat with mock versions of all your favorites like Lemon Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork and even Vegetarian Duck! Other must-tries are the Basil Mu Shu Rolls and Scallion Pancakes from the appetizers, the Vegetarian Fish and Orange Vegetarian Chicken entrees. They now offer Maggie Mudd Vegan Ice Cream as well. Order the Chocolate Mint Cookie. One order of it is big enough for sharing.
Also in Mountain View on Castro St. is that haven of Thai deliciousness, Amarin. They have an entire separate vegetarian menu that reads like a small novel. There are almost unlimited vegetarian and vegan choices (ask before ordering if your selection is vegan. They happily accomodate requests for omissions of egg, etc.). The Soy Protein Satay and Spicy Corn Cake appetizers are fabulous. Most entrees are under $10 and built for sharing. Their curries are outstanding. Make sure you try the savory Mus-Sa-Mun Curry with potato, carrot, pineapple, peanut, ginger, onion and coconut milk. Plenty of seating in authentic surroundings. Ask if you can be seated in the area off to the left of the restaurant for a fun on the floor dining experience.