Vegan dining in San Diego: Donna Jean

While visiting Southern California, we were delighted to discover one of the San Diego’s amazing vegan treasures: the Italian restaurant Donna Jean.

We visited after landing at the airport; it’s just a few minutes away, near Balboa Park. The restaurant is small and so inviting, with a roomy interior and a large, leafy patio, perfect for a summer evening (which is, basically, any evening in San Diego).

We began with an appetizer of cast-iron mac-and-cheese (there are myriad scrumptious-looking salads on the menu, but succumbed to the carb overload). This gorgeous dish comprised macaroni smothered with smoked cheddar and gouda, baked and topped with breadcrumbs, green onions, and homemade parmesan cheese.

We also tried one of the handmade pastas: gnocchi with purple majesty potatoes, goat cheese cream sauce, chestnut mushrooms and fresh herbs. The pasta was sublime, and the mushrooms were perfect … the vegan goat cheese sauce was everything a vegan dreams of: rich, creamy, flavorful.

There were so many pizzas to chose from, and we opted for the Killer Queen, with crushed tomato, mozzarella, parmesan, basil, and Calabrian chilis, made with organic fermented whole-wheat dough.

We knew we’d have to save some of the pizza to make room for dessert, and our only regret is not making room for two or more desserts. The hazelnut cheesecake came drizzled with a tart, chocolatey pomegranate sauce, topped with coconut cream and hazelnuts.

In a word, Donna Jean is fantastic. If you’re in the San Diego area, do not miss this incredible experience. The restaurant accepts walk-ins, but we’d highly recommend reservations, as the place is popular and busy.