I recently spent almost two weeks in Sayulita, Mexico: swimming in the Pacific Ocean, surfing on the beach’s lazy waves, reading books in my sun lounger and, of course, eating copious amounts of vegetarian food at many of Sayulita’s best restaurants.
I had previously visited Sayulita three or four times, but was seriously surprised on my most recent visit when I discovered how much the town had grown. Once a sleepy little fishing village, Sayulita is now a bustling beachfront destination, designated as a “Pueblo Magico”, or nationally-recognized town that retains a special brand of Mexican charm. As Sayulita has grown, its restaurant scene has expanded, and where I once had trouble finding a decent plant-based dinner, I was now more worried about how I could fit every restaurant I wanted to try into my two-week itinerary!
Looking for a complete guide to Sayulita? Click through and read my complete guide to Sayulita, Mexico’s beachfront Pueblo Magico.
Below, I’ve highlighted twenty (!) of my favorite restaurants in Sayulita, from traditional Mexican kitchens to innovative, 100% organic and plant-based cafes. Every restaurant below has vegetarian options, and nearly all have vegan choices too. They are listed in alphabetical order (just to be fair… though I have specifically noted which restaurants are highly recommended) and they are all located within easy walking distance (ten minutes or less) of Sayulita’s picturesque town square and golden sand beach.
Auri Burgers is a little, family-run restaurant on the north side of Sayulita (on Avenida del Palmar). Craving a veggie burger, I stopped by (with a travel friend) one night for dinner. I ordered the portobello mushroom burger, which was a bit of a burger-sandwich hybrid: a heaping pile of seasoned, grilled portabello mushroom strips were stuffed into a bun with cheese, tomato and lettuce. With fries and a margarita, this was a great, crowd-pleasing option. Auri Burgers is also open for traditional Mexican breakfasts if you’re looking to escape the morning crowds in the restaurants around the main plaza.
Confession: I had been a vegetarian for four years before I ever ate – and enjoyed – a banana! And it all started at Chocobanana, one of the most iconic restaurants in Sayulita. Located right on the town’s main plaza, this large restaurant serves up a huge menu of breakfast and lunch dishes, along with their famous, namesake take-away dessert: a frozen banana on a stick, dipped in chocolate and rolled in sprinkles, granola or coconut flakes. I distinctly recall my first-ever Chocobanana (back in 2008) and since then I’ve practically turned into a monkey (no chocolate or sprinkles required!). On my most recent trip to Sayulita, I arrived in town around 11:30 am and had a few hours to wait before I could check in at my Sayulita Airbnb. So, I headed directly to Chocobanana for a hearty, vegetarian breakfast of chilaquiles rojos (tortilla strips sauteed in salsa and topped with both sour cream and cheese), served with scrambled eggs, toast and refried beans. When I got the call that my apartment was ready, I grabbed a frozen banana for the road and headed to my Airbnb. Chocobanana has reliable WiFi for its customers and an eco-friendly approach (including no single-use plastics).
There is only one reason to eat at El Itacate in Sayulita: their signature dish, the itacate, is a burrito with fried cheese in place of a tortilla. Yes, you heard me right! A burrito with fried cheese in place of a tortilla. By night, the queue for this little taco joint stretches down the road, but if you visit around lunch you may get lucky and score a streetfront table that allows you watch the cooks prepare your dishes inside. As you can see, I ordered a vegetarian itacate, stuffed with sauteed vegetables (including onions and bell peppers) and a glass of colorful pineapple agua fresca. They had quite a few other vegetarian options, including five different vegetarian tacos, but you’d be crazy to skip their signature dish! An itacate is super-filling, so you can probably go light (and healthy…) on your other two meals that day. You can find El Itacate on Calle Jose Mariscal, right around the corner from the plaza.
Falafel & Friends
I visited Falafel & Friends in Sayulita on an evening where I wasn’t super-hungry, but knew that if I skipped dinner I would probably be hangry the following morning. Located on Calle Gaviota, Falafel & Friends is a little street food restaurant serving up Middle Eastern favorites like falafel, hummus, salad and pita bread. Besides the juice bars I’ll mention below, this is one of the best restaurants for vegans in Sayulita (especially if you’re looking for more than one plant-based dish).
Ice Cream on Calle Miramar
I don’t think this place has a name (I couldn’t find one), and I couldn’t figure out when it was open and when it was closed, but this little ice cream parlor on Calle Miramar (opposite the North Side Cafe) has Sayulita’s best ice cream. Way better than the gelato places in the town center, this ice cream shop had a small selection of about ten homemade flavors, including a delicious pistachio ice cream and a showstopping chocolate, coffee and Kahlua combo. Prices are relatively high, but the quality makes it more than worth it. Highly recommended!
La Esperanza Restaurant
When I asked locals for recommendations for good vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurants in Sayulita, nearly everyone name-dropped La Esperanza. At Calle Jose Mariscal 12A, La Esperanza has a chic, boho-inspired interior and tiny patio with about four street-facing outdoor tables. I’d heard rave reviews of their avocado toast, so I chose that, and a latte, for my breakfast. As you can see, the avocado toast was definitely Instagrammable, with drizzles, dabs and dots garnishing the plate, a healthy little side salad and even some fresh pinto beans. My only complaint is that the bread was a bit pedestrian – I would have loved for the dish to be on a slice of hearty, fresh-baked bread rather than typical Mexican sandwich bread. If you’re a fan of berries, I’ve heard their waffles with blueberries and passionfruit cream are a stand-out dish!
Latitude 20 Restaurant & Bar
I visited Latitude 20 on my first night in Sayulita. I’d arrived in town via an overnight flight and bumpy local bus ride, and was looking for a more quiet place to grab an early-evening drink and snack before bed. I chose Latitude 20 because it was a spacious bar and it seemed to have a fair number of solo drinkers already inside (okay, that sounds more depressing than it was!). Immediately, I noticed that they had a real happy hour special – two for one margaritas, and at regular prices (not “special” happy hour prices that are practically double the regular price, like at some of the sketchy beach bars in town!), so I had a couple margaritas and a basket of tortilla chips with guacamole. It was apparent that the staff were friendly with their guests, and it seemed like a great place for low-key drinking (including day drinking!). Meat eaters, I’ve heard they’ve got some pretty epic barbecue meat dishes on the menu!
I was interested in visiting Loro Cafe because, as far as I could tell, they were the only restaurant in Sayulita that served Asian cuisine. With a curated menu including bibimbap (shown above), pho and vegan dumplings (sadly, sold out every time I checked… my vegan dumpling obsession knows no geographic bounds!), and drinks like Asian sangria (delicious!), Loro Cafe is a good option for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters who are looking for something different for dinner. With tables spilling out onto the sidewalk behind the main plaza, Loro Cafe is also great for people-watching!
I was in Sayulita for ten days, and, as I said, there came a point when I wanted a break from Mexican food (crazy, right?). As I was exploring the city center one night I noticed a packed Italian restaurant on Calle Jose Mariscal that had just one table left – lucky me! I learned that I’d snagged a coveted table at Marcolino, Sayulita’s best restaurant for Italian food. With a broad menu of homemade pasta dishes, and lots of vegetarian choices, I coudn’t resist ordering the sweet potato gnocchi with cheese, walnut and sundried tomato sauce, and a side of garlic toast (I must have been carb-loading after a day of scuba diving!). The pasta was delicious, and a lovely change of pace from what I’d been eating all week, and the garlic bread was some of the best I’ve ever had. Highly recommended!
Mary’s Traditional Mexican Cuisine
Mary’s Traditional Mexican Cuisine is famous for their fish tacos, but as a vegetarian I decided to visit for breakfast instead. I need to begin by saying that I wasn’t actually that impressed with my meal – I ordered huevos rancheros and, as you can see, they were served with no ranchero sauce. That’s a little weird, right? However, I did share my table with some locals who ordered both chilaquiles and the vegetarian omelette, and all of their meals looked awesome. In particular, the vegetarian omelette was huge! Pescatarians, this is apparently the best place for fish tacos in town, and vegetarians, I’d recommend the omelette! Mary’s Traditional Mexican Cuisine is located right on Calle Revolucion in the town center.
Matiz by Day
I think there’s a lot to love about Matiz By Day. Located on Calle Marlin, between the town plaza and the beach, Matiz by Day is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant that takes over the Matiz tapas bar each morning in order to serve up healthy, plant-centric dishes like açai bowls and matcha lattes (shown above), hearty shakshuka and three types of avocado toast. I love the sustainability of this concept – taking a restaurant space that wasn’t being used by day and opening its doors to vegetarians and vegans looking for a healthy meal before sunset. The atmosphere is super-chic, with bleached grey wood and cacti that would be perfect for an impromptu Instagram photoshoot. Highly recommended!
North Side Cafe
It was a rainy morning when I rolled into North Side Cafe for breakfast. I’d heard that this Sayulita restaurant (on Calle Miramar) was a bit of a community icon, having been around for years and drawing a loyal crowd of locals for breakfast and lunch. Apparently they were one of the first places in town to serve healthy coffee alternatives like golden milk.
The first time I ducked my head in was in the afternoon, and I only saw the small menu written on the blackboard inside. Unimpressed by the lack of options, I went elsewhere for breakfast, but the next time I walked past the restaurant I noticed that some tables had proper menus with lots of options and decided to check it out. I ordered the chilaquiles verdes, which were served topped with eggs and accompanied by toast and refried beans. Overall it was a solid breakfast, and I would love to go back to try their banana pancakes.
Orangy Juice Bar
Orangy is a tiny little juice bar right in the center of Sayulita. I believe there were only two seats here, so you’ll probably want to take your smoothie or juice to go (maybe enjoy it on one of the benches in the central plaza, which is just a block away). I did love my smoothie bowl, which was a vibrant green shade and topped with all sorts of delicious superfoods (it was actually the chopped apple that really sold me, though!) but overall, I preferred Organi-K (see below) which had a broader menu with a wider range of healthy juices, smoothies and bowls.
Organi-K is a contemporary juice and smoothie bar in Sayulita, located right on the north corner of the bridge. Of Sayulita’s two healthy juice bars, Organi-K was my favorite because of its broader menu – it had more juices, smoothies and smoothie bowls to choose from. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of my smoothie here, because I took it in a to-go cup and drank it on my walk to Sayulita’s secret beach (more on that in another post!). However, I remember that my smoothie was called No Bad Days and it was amaaazing, with ingredients like banana, raw cacao, dates, maca and even homemade peanut butter. Their location backs onto Sayulita’s tiny little river, making it a great place to grab a healthy meal and watch some beautiful birds. Highly recommended!
I kept passing Palmar Trapiche as I walked to and from my Airbnb apartment in Sayulita, and after a few nights I decided to head inside this garden restaurant and craft brew bar. Open nightly for dinner and drinks, Palmar Trapiche has homey picnic tables, colorful lawn chairs and a handful of hammocks where you can relax with your friends (or solo, like me!) as the sun sets. Their food menu includes lots of seafood and meat-based dishes, along with a veggie burger and a few vegetarian appetizers. They have several interesting craft beers on tap, including a tropical-fruit-infused IPA that I absolutely loved. On Wednesday nights, Palmar Trapiche shows films outside at 7:00 pm.
Every night, I had to walk past Pizza Venezia to return to my Airbnb in Sayulita. I noticed the restaurant drew huge crowds, and heard people saying that they’d been queuing for two hours for a table. Obviously, I had to check it out for myself, and I can confirm that Pizza Venezia is the best pizza restaurant in Sayulita! The menu is based around authentic thin-crust pizzas with as many toppings as you want for 99 pesos (individual size – shown above) or 189 pesos (sharing size). I made a vegetarian pizza with all of the possible vegetables and a light dusting of cheese, but I also eyed some beautiful salads coming out of the kitchen! Pizza Venezia is small and seriously busy, so it’s best to make a reservation (even then, you’ll need to be flexible) or arrive right when they open. No alcohol is served here, but you’re welcome to bring your own wine or beer. Highly recommended!
I visited La Rustica for breakfast on Christmas morning. At first, I was taken aback by the prices on their menu, which were definitely higher than most other breakfast joints in town. However, when my breakfast arrived, I understood why this Sayulita restaurant was a little bit more on the expensive side: my chilaquiles verdes were delicious, and served with attention to detail that you don’t get at some of the town’s cheaper restaurants. You can see that the tortillas were beautifully garnished with red onion, radish, cilantro and crema, the eggs were cooked well, and the refried beans were also prepared nicely. If you’re looking for a quiet meal, there are tables in a lower courtyard that are much more peaceful than the streetfront dining area.
Sayulita Cafe is one of the most established restaurants in Sayulita, having been serving up food on Calle Revolucion for nearly two decades. Sayulita Cafe is so famous for its chile rellenos (stuffed chile peppers) that it’s sometimes referred to as “Casa de Chile Relleno”. Open nightly for dinner, this restaurant packs in two floors of tables inside, with more spilling out onto the sidewalk below (opt for a sidewalk seat if you like street entertainment, but head inside if you want a more quiet meal). I opted for their vegetarian chile relleno, which was stuffed with cheese and vegetables, then cooked in an indulgent sauce made from tomatoes and spiced with cinnamon, cloves and raisins.
Although most Sayulita restaurants have several good vegetarian options, Veggie Land stands out as one of the few 100% vegetarian restaurants in Sayulita. It’s located on the north side of the bridge in a bright pink building, and it’s open for breakfast and lunch from Tuesday through Sunday. I opted for their vegan tofu scramble that was served with tortillas, black beans, fresh fruit and three different creamy vegan sauces. Although the tofu scramble looks simple, the sauces really added some interesting flavors. I wish I’d had time to go back to try their “potato omelet” too, and if I’d been on a tighter budget, I definitely would have returned a few more times for their inexpensive breakfast combos (including your choice of pancakes, chilaquiles or eggs for less than 90 pesos!).
Yah Yah Cafe
Yah-Yah Cafe is Sayulita’s digital nomad hotspot, with artisan coffee, an expansive breakfast menu, powerful WiFi and a seating area upstairs complete with power outlets for travelers working online. Oh, and it’s cute-dog-friendly too! Yah-Yah Cafe has quite a few different vegan and vegetarian options (along with meat-based dishes). I visited a few times for coffee and also had a breakfast sandwich with sauteed vegetables, cream cheese and a fried egg on an everything bagel. Yah-Yah is located at Niños Heroes 3, about three minutes from the plaza. On your way back into town, head up the little hill beside the cafe and follow the flowery footpath back to the south edge of town.
Heading to Sayulita? Don’t miss my complete Sayulita travel guide, featuring the best activities and things to do in Sayulita, Mexico.
With a booming (and unregulated…) vacation rental market, I’d suggest booking your accommodation through a reputable travel site to avoid any headaches. Click the link above for my personal hotel recommendations, or check the latest deals on Booking.com.