Vegan Friendly: A First Taste of the New Anthem Vegan in North Park
The Short and Skinny
After years slinging vegan comfort food at Farmers’ Markets throughout San Diego, Anthem Vegan has put down roots in an iconic Googie structure on El Cajon Boulevard in North Park.
Glowing green, a circa 1965 building on the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and Hamilton Street is home to San Diego’s newest vegan restaurant, deli, and market. What started as an invite-only, backyard brunch pop-up—turned midnight street vendor, turned farmers market favorite—is now one of the buzziest spots in San Diego.
Here you’ll find founder Patrick Murray greeting guests and chatting up farmers market regulars who’ve come by for their Karne taco fix (now available any day of the week), while heads dance in the kitchen as the pass-through window fills with double corn tortilla tacos and burgers dramatically stabbed with wood-handled steak knives.
Up in the front market area, you’ll find staples of the vegan kitchen—from oatmeal to ice cream—and housemade marinated “meats” and deli salads sit behind glass, available for sale by the pound. Next to this array, a gallery of gluten-free brownies and bars from Olive Oil Café seem to stand as a reminder to save room for dessert.
Unapologetically mock-meaty, the menu veganizes beloved American staples. Anchored by the street flavors and mellow scratch-made sauces upon which Anthem’s fan base was built, the menu was reworked for a permanent kitchen by head chef Troy Oftedal, formerly of South Park’s Alchemy.
Anthem provides devotees the opportunity to indulge in their highly sought-after specials anytime they like, including the Loaded Beyond Burgers from Anthem’s short-lived Burger Pop-Up. Loaded Burgers, and a current test run of Impossible burgers, flood the dining room where molten cheddar oozes from the core of the namesake “AV Burger”— a “Juicy Lucy” style patty served under a requisite cap of lettuce, onion, tomato, and pickles. Pieces of BBQ jackfruit fall from the edge of the North Porker onto the pile of skin-on fries that accompany many of Anthem’s dishes. Read this section of the menu thoroughly and you may discover flavor combinations you didn’t know you wanted, like spears of eggplant bakon plastered with peanut butter to the bun of the S.S. Peanut Butter Burger.
Aside from the massive burger menu, midnight favorites like the Steak ‘n Bleu Sandwich and Quinoa Black Bean Tacos are now joined by sunny classics like the Tuna Melt and Mozzarella Sticks. Vegan meats are tempered by a lengthy salad section, one of the few places where nuts can be found on this otherwise nut-free menu.
Hints are trickling in on the coming dinner menu—think more refined dishes like a sous vide watermelon “tuna” steak. The breakfast menu is set to debut soon as well, harking back to Anthem’s brunch pop-up roots, only now, we are all invited.
Pro Tip: Seriously, save room for dessert. It might just be the best part of your meal.
What to Order
A grand knot of red onion strings comes beer battered and smothered in a mild queso in Anthem’s Cheesy Onion Nest ($8)—also available in ultra-spicy “reaper style”
A rare find in the vegan world, the gooey Mozzarella Sticks ($9) stacked beside marinara dipping sauce is an instant hit with vegan fans
Anthem North Park’s brick and mortar brings the return of the Flatarrito (Flat Earthers Answer To Burritos ) It’s Actually Quesadillas ($10), a large flour tortilla stuffed with house queso, vegan cheddar, chipotle aioli and Karne or Grilled Chick’n finished with a drizzle of sriracha
Bathed in one of the better sauces on offer, the BBQ-smothered jackfruit and creamy cabbage slaw of the The North Porker Burger ($14) is a safe step into the Beyond Burger world
A farmers market staple, the buffalo chicken-stuffed Gangster Wrap ($10.50) comes loaded with chucky blue cheese dressing