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Lotus Café Encinitas/San Diego: V for vegan is scattered all over their menu

One of the yummy vegan breakfast items at Lotus Café
One of the yummy vegan breakfast items at Lotus Café
Photo by Terence Jacinto

Lotus Cafe Encinitas


Vegetarians and vegans love to see the letter ‘V’ next to items on a menu when they dine away from home. The letter ‘V’ is a discrete code to vegans and vegetarians alike, that a particular menu item is vegan or can be modified to cater to the needs of individuals looking to eat a plant-based meal. Some vegans and vegetarians become elated when they learn a restaurant (that does not normally specialize in vegan/vegetarian food) offers at least two menu items that can be modified into a plant based meal, so much so that the establishment will be considered by the vegan/vegetarian community as being ‘vegan/vegetarian friendly’. Indeed, those who are on a plant-based diet are seeing this trend increase with establishments notorious for traditionally serving non-vegetarian/vegan meals, as restaurant owners respond to this growing trend by offering items on their menu that can easily be modified at a low cost (to the restaurant and its customers) to accommodate individuals on a plant-based diet.

If you are a vegetarian or a vegan who loves to open up a menu and see the letter ‘V’ next to a menu item that elicits temptation, then look no further than the Lotus Café in Encinitas, just a few miles North of downtown San Diego up Interstate 5. Lotus Café’s menu is literally a ‘convention’ for the letter ‘V’ that vegetarians and vegans love to see in menus when dining out. However, Lotus Café takes this coding a little further by including more in depth menu coding for vegetarians and vegans. Besides the traditional ‘V’ for their dishes that are completely vegan, Lotus Cafe includes the letters ‘HV’ next to items that are ‘vegan, but has honey in the ingredients’ (the most hardcore vegans don’t eat honey which is produced by bees). The letters ‘VO’ next to a menu item that normally contains animal products indicates the dish has a ‘vegan option’ and can be modified to meet the needs of someone on a plant-based diet by incorporating meat substitutes or ingredients not derived from an animal.

The fact that the Lotus Café has extensive menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with the majority of items capable of being modified to meet the needs of vegetarians and vegans, makes the Lotus Café an absolute gold mine for people who are on a plant based diet. Furthermore, Lotus Café offers gluten free options marked by the letters ‘GF’ next to their menu items to accommodate the pickiest eaters.

Breakfast is served all day long, which is plus for those who consider noontime to be their morning. The picture in this article is of Lotus Café’s Vegan Tofu Scramble, which is firm tofu made with a ‘secret spice’ recipe sautéed in olive oil, and two veggies of the foodie’s choice. The scramble is served with a side of grilled potatoes and a choice of soy sausage or meatless bacon strips. Vegan cheese can be added to the scramble for a small up charge.

Besides an array of home-style breakfast delights, Lotus Café offers dishes from almost every continent, such as Indian curry bowls, Italian pastas, falafel, burritos, tacos, burgers, and stir-fries. Along with the seemingly never-ending list of entrees and side dishes, Lotus Café also serves a wide variety of healthy shakes and smoothies. And for the kiddos who may not have the same exotic palate as their parents, Lotus Café has a menu ‘for little ones’ which includes items that can be modified for kiddos eating a plant based diet.

Lotus Café has a casual, ‘come as you are’, beach-town vibe with indoor and outdoor seating options which creates a versatile dinning environment, so it’s appropriate for almost any occasion. The fact that Lotus Café is walking distance from the beach is ideal for families looking to grab some brunch prior to spending a day near the ocean, the late-night owl seeking to drink a rejuvenating refreshment, or for a couple on a date night looking to grab a bite to eat prior to taking a moonlight stroll at nearby Moonlight Beach.

One of the only downsides is that Lotus Café has no wait staff. All orders are placed at the main counter and your food is brought to your table once it’s ready. The other downside is that the Lotus Café is located near some train tracks (which is expected being located near the beach), so people dining outside should be prepared for an occasional scare every 15 minutes from the short light rail going by. These small issues would normally warrant a one star reduction off the five star rating scale, however, the menu options for those on a plant based diet is so extensive that Lotus Café earns that star back, giving it a 5 out of 5 star rating for this review.

For information about Lotus Café and to view their complete menu, visit