Riverside is full of hidden gems, but something that can be hard to find is plant-based food options. Most places have a salad or two on the menu, but that’s hardly filling. I explored six vegan restaurants in and around Riverside, perfect for whatever cuisine you’re craving. 



Despite being almost twenty minutes from campus, Oasis is more than worth the trip. A literal hole in the wall tucked alongside a health food store, it is easy to overlook. I got the vegan carnitas taquito plate and champurrado to drink; the taquitos were crispy, crunchy and juicy, loaded with veggies and a delicious balance of a refreshing crema and a delicious green salsa. The plate comes with only four taquitos, so if you’re hungry, definitely make sure to get a bigger dish. The champurrado is piping hot, perfectly thick and a delicious and warming beverage to warm up any chilly day. As I ate, I overheard another diner go from skeptical about vegan food to enjoying his meal with delight; even for those who aren’t vegan, I’d strongly recommend Oasis.

Veg & Go Fast Food

I have been a loyal customer of Veg & Go since my first year at UCR. Set right off campus in the University Village, their fast food always hits the spot. This time, I tried their Spicy Chick, Bac’n Wrap Dog, and Crispy Mango Wingz. I adore their chicken, which like all their protein is made in-house, and the sandwich has a great kick, balanced by a deliciously creamy sauce. The hot dog has a good balance of bacon though isn’t overloaded, and is a great addition to a meal. The wings, made on a sugar cane stick to emulate bones, are also very spicy, and though they could have had more sauce, they were topped with pineapple and jalapeño, which somewhat made up for it. I’ve tried almost everything on their menu at some point or another, and I haven’t found anything I dislike yet.

On top of that, they offer student discounts, have frequent sales and deals, and are always stocked with a rotating offering of various prepackaged desserts from plant-based bakeries in the region. Overall, an excellent experience in every regard — I’d strongly recommend Veg & Go to anyone looking for new twists on old classics.

Vegan Korner

I’ve yet to meet someone who dislikes pizza. Vegan Korner is a small shop a little farther from campus; located in Grand Terrace, it is well worth the drive. I tried their Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza, Alfredo Chicken Pizza, and Breakfast Pizza. The Chicken Bacon Ranch is perfectly juicy and greasy, feeling just a little bit unhealthy in all the best ways. The bacon was a little subtle, but overall it was the heaviest of the three pizzas. The Alfredo Chicken is delightfully creamy, and a little lighter than I’d expected; the mushrooms on top bring out the sauce’s flavor, and all in all it’s a great example of a white pizza. Finally, the Breakfast Pizza doesn’t necessarily scream “breakfast,” but is still very good. It tastes very similar to a supreme pizza, but the egg on top is a great addition; it is also topped with avocado, which by the time I got home had already begun to brown. The Breakfast Pizza, while still delicious, is easily the least tempting of the three I tried.

Vegan Vatoz

A taco truck just down University Avenue, Vegan Vatoz just might be my favorite stop on the list. I tried their breakfast taco, fish taco, chorizo, egg and potato burrito. The breakfast taco, while light and refreshing, is not very similar to a traditional breakfast burrito, and while a delicious taco, doesn’t measure up to their other options. I nearly inhaled the fish taco, and it might just be the best taco I’ve had, with a great mix of fried fish, creamy sauce, and fresh veggies. The chorizo, egg and potato burrito was similarly incredible, and while not very spicy, contained one of the best faux eggs I’ve ever had. If you’re planning on grabbing lunch there, I can’t recommend it enough, but make sure to double-check that the truck’s in town before heading over. Make sure to grab one of their refreshing handmade aguas frescas to chase the tacos!

Monty’s Good Burger

A little farther from campus, Monty’s is found downtown in the Riverside Food Lab, and provides nostalgic fast food fare. Though named for its iconic cheeseburger, I couldn’t help branching out a little, and ended up trying their only other entrée, a chicken sandwich. The chicken is delicious, both crunchy and tender, perfectly juicy. Strangely, the sandwich comes with cucumbers instead of pickles, but offers a choice of six equally delicious sauces. I also got a coffee milkshake, which is a little disappointing – it doesn’t have a particularly strong coffee flavor, and whichever milk substitute is used has a taste of its own. All in all, it’s a great place to grab a bite if you ever find yourself downtown, but doesn’t quite measure up to the other options in quality and variety.

University Pizza Company

For those craving pizza a little closer to campus, the University Pizza Company (UPC) has got you covered – they’re conveniently located in the University Village, right next door to Veg & Go. While they aren’t exclusively vegan, they do have an extensive selection of plant-based proteins and cheeses, making for a menu that’s almost fifty percent vegan. I would recommend their buffalo chicken or margherita pizza; the buffalo chicken has a delightful kick, and the chicken is perfectly juicy, while the margherita is excellently balanced, with a subtler flavor. As mentioned, they also serve non-vegan options, so it’s the perfect choice for groups with mixed dietary needs.