In general, we have found San Diego to be lacking in clean organic food/restaurant options. We spent about an hour trying to find organic eggs one morning at a restaurant in La Jolla, and couldn't find a single one and gave up on breakfast. There are three juice bars in La Jolla, none of which are organic, I don't get it, why would I want pesticides in my detox veggie juice?
There is one exception to this, my favorite Organic and Non GMO restaurants in San Diego is Haggos Organic Taco in Encinitas on the coast. Haggos Organic Taco is 100% non GMO and almost 100% organic, they have gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and organic meat options. This palce is doing it right and not cutting any corners, they are the real deal, please support them! See listings below for more info about them.
Although, I don't think Local Habit is 100% organic or 100% non GMO, it is another good option. See listing below.
We found a lot of restaurants in San Diego greenwashing, so be mindful, and ask a lot of questions.
These San Diego Restaurants are the LEAST likely to be serving GMOs.
These restaurants have said that they do not use any of the suspect GMO oils or ingredients and are using most if not all certified organic and/or local food. This does not mean that these restaurants are 100% GMO Free. It just means you have the best chance of avoiding most GMOs if you eat at these restaurants in comparison to other restaurants. Restaurant Ingredients change ALL the time, don't take our word for it, ask questions yourself to confirm if items below are still organic and non gmo and take our GMO ingredient list with you to know what to ask. Please email us if you get different info than what is listed here. Please be mindful with condiments and drinks at these restaurants, most of the research I have done is around food ingredients. Thank you to these restaurants for being so fully committed to health, organics, and supporting local farmers!
Hagoo's Organic Taco - Encinitas - San Diego - See our blog post on them here. My new favorite place to eat in San Diego. Adorable little place on the coast, the food is so delicious. 95% to 98% certified organic and 100% Non GMO. The owner is super knowledgable about food and his sources and he investigates them thoroughly to avoid all GMOs. They use certified organic Mary's Chicken, and 100% grass fed beef from Grateful Harvest. Almost all produce is certifeid organic except for limes. Uses organic saflower oil for cooking. Buys produce from Alberts Organics and Coral Tree Organic Farm, also has a small organic garden on property. All plates and forks are made with plant based non GMO materials. This place is the real deal!
Local Habit - They mention organic food on their website. They list the farms they use on their site, I love that! I talked to someone on the phone said most meat is organic and grass fed, they told me some of the farms they used are organic and I checked them out and they were actually organic, so far so good. Update: I went to eat here and confirmed the beef is from Sonrise Farms and is 100% grass fed beef. Food was delicious. They have gluten free pizza which is not organic, but does not contain any GMOs, was very yummy. They saute and fry in non gmo rice bran oil, dressings are made with olive oil. Tofu is certified organic from San Diego Soy Dairy company. I don't think these guys are 100% organic, but it is a good option. Avoid: I have not heard back on the chicken yet, so avoid that if you go there until confirmed it is not fed gmos. I assume it is.
These San Diego Restaurants are serving SOME GMOs, but they also have some non GMO options.
Stone Brewing Company - Escondido & Libery Station - San Diego, CA Almost all produce is organic. All soy is organic. All oils ae organic. The meat is not certified organic and I could not verify with the farms whether they are being fed GMOs, I assume so since they are "all natural". Avoid all meat at this restaurant to avoid GMOs.
Burger Lounge -Various Locations around San Diego- They have some really good non GMO options here. Their beef is 100% grass fed pasture raised no grain from Rain Crow Ranch. Their turkey and chicken is "all natural" which means it is fed GMOs. They fry in non gmo peanut oil, The following items are organic: Spinach, brown rice, quinoa, buns, tomatoes in salad, arugula, zucchini, american cheese, cheddar cheese. Avoid: turkey, chicken, and sodas to avoid GMOs at this restaurant.
True Food Kitchen- They use super high quality 100% grass fed and finished / pasture raised beef from Estancia Beef, I have researched this beef ranch and they are the real deal, no GMOs, and even a step above organic. True Food Kitchen has recently eliminated all GMO Canola oil and have replaced it with Grapeseed Oil. They use organic Tofu and soy milk. They use a lot of organic produce and adhere to the dirty dozen pesticide list put out by EWG, and produce on that list will always be organic. All of their greens are organic. All butter, eggs, milk, half and half, ricotta and yogurt is organic. Greek yogurt is not organic. Some of their produce is not organic. Soy sauce is not organic, but tamari is organic. You can ask that your dish not be made with regular soy sauce to avoid GMOs. Chicken and turkey is NOT organic and is GMO fed. Regular cheese is not organic. Corn tortillas are not organic. Although this restaurant is not 100% organic, this is a great option and it is one of the places I have found that you can get true 100% grass fed and pasture raised beef, (but the corn tortillas are not organic, so get the tacos as lettuce wraps instead) I had an inspiring talk with the head chef who is an amazing guy, this company is really trying to do the right thing. To avoid GMOs here do not get the Chicken, Turkey, Corn Tortillas or Soy sauce, Edamame, and Cheese. (Tamari is ok.)
Lean & Green - La Jolla - It looks like there are some good organic Non GMO options at this restaurant. I do take serious issue though with their menu which has organic written everywhere, organic smoothies, organic wraps, organic breakfast, not totally true. The eggs are not organic and none of the meat is organic. The meat is "all natural", which means GMO fed. Despite having Organic written above their eggs and meat, I think this is very deceptive advertising and it makes me wonder what else is not organic. All the employees think everything is organic, not true. I don't like it when restaurants use the benefit of using organic in their advertising and writing it on the menu when it's not organic. I was recently here and told a customer that their eggs are not organic and they couldn't believe it, they said the menu says organic. We even had them ask the chef who admittted the eggs are not organic. If you eat here, encourage them to be more honest about what is not organic on their menu, or actually buy organic meat and eggs. Most of their produce is organic and comes from local farms such as Sage Mountain and Be Wise Ranch. Tofu is organic. They have gluten free tortillas made of teff, millet, and tapioca flour (not organic). All grains and cereals are organic such as rice, quinoa, oatmeal and gluten free granola. All milk and juice is organic. Coffee and tea are organic. Avoid: Whey protein, teryaki sauce, (but soy sauce is), chicken, eggs, and turkey to avoid GMOs at this restaurant.
Evolution Fast Food- Vegan Fast Food restaurant, they use pure rice bran oil and olive oil. All juicing produce is organic. Spring lettuce mix is organic. Most dry goods like flours, beans, grains, tofu and agave are organic. Some things are not organic, ask when you are there.
Elevation Burger - Carlsbad - San Diego - They are serving 100% grass fed, organic beef for their burgers and their veggie burgers, but nothing else is organic. Cheese is not organic.
El Take it Easy - Mexican Wine Country cuisine. Website says they use pasture meats and local produce. They use Niman Ranch pork which are fed GMO grains. They do also have some paso prime beef which is 100% grass fed and grain free.
Ki's - San Diego - All grains and beans are organic. (Rice, flour, pinto, black beans, quinoa, cornmeal, oats all organic. Sugar is organic. Tortillas and bread are not organic. They are considering starting to make their own corn tortillas which would be organic but have not started yet. Coffee and milk is organic, cream and butter are not. Oil is not organic waiting to hear back on what kind. Some vegetables are organic and some are not. Tofu is organic from San Diego Soy Dairy Co, soy sauce is organic and gluten free from San-J Organic Tamari. Eggs are not organic. Chicken is not organic. Meat is not organic is partially grain fed by Nature Source. Avoid: All meat, including chicken and beef as well as eggs to avoid GMOs here.
Cafe 21 - San Diego - Two locations - They do have some grass fed beef at this restaurant and some of the produce is organic, but they don't sound like are strict about organics or not using GMOs. The eggs are not organic. Waiting to hear more....more to come.
These “natural” San Diego restaurants are using GMO suspected ingredients and are the MOST likely to be serving some GMOs.
JSix - San Diego - These guys promote themselves as sustainable and local. Looks like some meat is commerical and some is Niman Ranch which feeds GMO commerical feed. Their chicken is from Petaluma chicken with is fed gmo feed. Not sure if any of produce is organic, says the salad greens are.
Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar - Encinitas and San Diego - This is an “all natural” cafe that serves a lot of unnatural GMO food. Having said that, there are so few options in San Diego, that this might be a good option to find some non GMO food. They use GMO canola oil, they do have some organic Tofu, Tempeh, brown rice, some organic juices. I think most of the fruit and veggies are not certified organic, they also have commercial corn products and their meat is “all natural” / Fed GMOs. You could get a non GMO meal here, but would need to really make an effort to exclude a lot of ingredients. Get something simple like veggies, rice and the organic tempeh (confirm it's organic).
Kitchen 1540 - Del Mar, CA - We went to this restaurant because they advertised that they use local and sustainable ingredients. We ate here three times because we were staying at the hotel. We were told on three separate occasions that all the meat was organic and the eggs were organic as well. This is not true at all. I later emailed directly with the chef here and NONE of the meat is certified organic or 100% grass fed pasture. Some of their meat is “all natural and hormone free” which means they do eat GMO feed, some is just standard commercial beef. The chef said that he may or may not use some organic produce ingredients and tries to get the highest quality ingredients. I am not sure why this restaurant advertises itself as sustainable, except maybe they do get a few organic veggies here and there. From what I can tell, there is not a lot that is sustainable about it. The staff is very misinformed here too and it is upsetting to know they are telling customers that everything is organic when almost nothing is. The chef said he is working on training the employees to give the correct info to the staff. FYI, Jidori chicken is served at a lot of upper end restaurants in San Diego, many staff think this means certified organic, it does not. If it is not certified organic, then it is eating GMO, which has been the case with all Jidori chicken I have researched so far.
Jimbos Deli and Salad Bar - Let me start by saying that Jimbos has a natural great grocery store section with lots of organic items and they are a member of the Non GMO project and have lots of Non GMO verified project items in the store. I was however disapointed in the deli section and the salad bar. They did not serve a single meat item at their deli case that was organic and non gmo. No organic eggs either. They did have a salad bar with some organic items but you have to look at a paper list and try to figure out which is organic and which isn’t and there are two sides to the salad bar, so you have to keep walking back to check things on the list that is in random order related to the items on the salad bar. It took me a long time to figure it out, who has time to do that every time you go to the salad bar? I wish they had and organic section and non organic section. Their juice bar had mostly organic vegetables which was great, and of course you can find tons of organic items in the grocery store, but not many in the deli/ cafe area.
Whisknladle - La Jolla (The same owners also own Prep Kitchen and Prep Kitchen / Little Italy) - I called this restaurant and spoke to an employee who said the executive chef said that all the meat and eggs here are certified organic, when I asked what farms they use, they told me Niman Ranch and Creekstone, I let him that both of these ranches are not certified organic or 100% grass fed/ pasture and they both use commercial GMO feed. He said he didn't know what to tell me that the chef said they were. I emailed the Chef a couple of times and have not heard back from them. This is an example of how much misinformation there is out there. So many chefs and servers think that all "natural" means organic, this could not be futher from the truth. Now a days, "natural" means GMO Fed, not at all "natural." Perhaps this restaurant does use some organic veggies, not sure, still waiting to here back from them, but it appears from the ranches they are using that their meat is not organic. I sent a couple of emails, never responded to my requests.
ARvalentien- Restaurant at Torrey Pines Lodge - La Jolla - This restaurants promotes itself as a farm to table restaurant. I called and asked if the eggs were organic, they said they were not, but didn't sound sure, so I emailed the restaurant, they never responded to my requests for info.
These may or may not be, have put out emails to all of them, and waiting to hear back.
Cucina Urbana - California Italian restaurant and wine shop. Website says they use organic and local whenver possible. They also have gluten free pasta options. Emailed, waiting to hear back on what is organic.
Stone Brewing Co.- San Diego - All produce is certified organic. Tofu is organic from San Diego Soy Dairy Co. Eggs, and meat are all natural, and have not been able to confirm if they eat GMOs. Avoid: Eggs, Meat, and Dairy until confirmed.
Starlite Lounge - California cuisine. Website says they use organic and local whenever possible. Emailed, waiting to hear back.
Tender Greens - La Jolla - In discussion with them now, will update soon.
People's Organic Food Co-op - This is a vegetarian organic food co-op. Not really a restaurant, but you can find organic food here. They also have a deli, waiting to hear back on if they have a GMO policy.
FarmHouse Cafe - They said they do use a lot of local farms and some organics, use Meyer Ranch meat in Montanna. Meyer meat says they are "all natural" hormone free, but does not say 100% grass fed, which means most likely fed GMOs.