Best Vegetarian (Inexpensive) San Francisco 2005 -
983 Valencia (at 21st Street), 826-5657, and 531 Divisadero (at Fell), 885-7133, www.herbivore-restaurant.com
Everything on Herbivore's extensive menu is vegan, but run-of-the-mill vegetarians and carnivores eat here happily, side by side with their more abstemious brethren. What's not to like about a roasted red beet salad, the sturdy batons of beet coated in grassy herbs, bedded on fresh greens, and topped with a tasty balsamic dressing? Or a refreshing seviche salad made of diced tofu and minced oyster mushrooms, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and jalapeño peppers, bathed in lime juice and chopped cilantro and served with crunchy crostini bread? Or tangy lemongrass noodles, a heap of soft, translucent rice noodles topped with chunky charbroiled vegetables, chopped cilantro, and crushed peanuts, in a spicy lemongrass-ginger dressing? And there's plenty more to choose from: a dozen starters, three soups, eight salads, a dozen sandwiches (including a stellar charbroiled portobello mushroom), a dozen entrees (from lentil loaf and beans and brown rice to red curry and gnocchi), and eight noodle dishes. And nothing on the menu is over $10.