Weird Fish, San Francisco

[Update 2/2010: Sadly Weird Fish has removed most of these delicious vegan options from their menu... which sucks. I'll leave this up for historical purposes so that we can all recall sadly what we're missing.]

Let’s head back up north to check out another delicious meal I had on my recent visit to San Francisco. I’d heard quite a bit about Weird Fish, a restaurant in the Mission District that along with serving the real deal, also offers a delicious version of vegan fish & chips, along with many other vegan specialties.

I was eager to try this place… I loved fish & chips as a kid so if they could pull off a reasonable vegan facsimile I would be very pleased.

They did, and I was.

Before we get to the fish, let’s have a gander at this gorgeous appetizer I shared with my buddy, The Buffalo Girls: seitan with buffalo sauce & vegan ranch dressing. I wasn’t quite prepared for how awesome these faux-wings turned out to be…

Vegan Buffalo Wings

You’ve got thick & generous breading on the outside covering a well seasoned, slightly peppery hunk of chewy seitan on the inside. This would be delicious on it’s own but then it’s slathered up in the most amazing hot & slightly sweet, perfectly sticky buffalo sauce, turning this into something I was still craving long after devouring every last deep-fried morsel. Hot damn those were good!

Vegan Buffalo Wings

Cool off that fiery mouth of yours by dipping your buffalo girl in some tasty herbed vegan ranch. The ranch was so creamy and yummy that I had to ask twice to make sure they’d given me the vegan one. They assured me that they had, it was just that good.

While I of course had to try the seitan fish & chips I’d heard so much about, our server suggested we try the vegan sampler which comes with the fish & chips (the chips being their house fries, a mix of yams and potatoes) along with fried tofu and fried zucchini. Great idea… bring it on!

Vegan sampler

The pieces you see on the right are the fish & chips. I’m pretty sure this was the same seitan that was in the buffalo wings, though the batter was different, but equally great. This didn’t taste anything like real fish but that’s totally cool with me because it was in every other way fantastic… doused with malt vinegar, it took me right back to being a kid enjoying H Salt.

The fried zucchini was great, they managed to keep it tasting crisp & fresh while not seeming undercooked or greasy. Having a vegetable in the mix was nice for balancing out all the heaviness of the other items. The fries, or chips if you will, were good too though ours were slightly overdone.

Vegan sampler

The tofu was ok but my least favorite. It had the same tasty batter but the inside was just a plain slab of firm tofu. It didn’t taste like it had had much done to it, so it was kind of boring. The sampler came served with a trio of sauces on the side (sesame, vegan ranch and I think, BBQ), so dipping the tofu into any one of those boosted it from bland to pretty-good-for-fried-plain-tofu status.

My companion in foodeating was even more of glutton than I, he also ordered the beautiful item you see below, the Chico Taco: vegan chorizo, guacamole and sour cream. They do have a vegan sour cream but he had them leave that off for some reason. (what?!)

Taco with vegan chorizo

I didn’t get to taste this because I was already so stuffed, but I trust my friend’s opinion when he told me that it was excellent. Sure looks good, doesn’t it?

Weird Fish has a bunch of other scrumptious sounding vegan goodies on their menu (which does change so don’t expect all the same stuff all the time), such as the “Wako Taco” (with yams, market greens, guacamole & pepitas), fried kosher dill pickles with chipotle & vegan ranch, spicy tortilla soup, something called “Little B. Stack” (which involves grilled yams, tofu, market greens, vegan mozzarella with buffalo sauce), fried plantains and more.

They also have a famous weekend brunch, also with vegan goodies like pancakes, chorizo tofu, a “Fake Philly” (comes with seitan, onions, peppers & vegan jack cheese) and more. YUM… everything sounds amazing!

Now apparently the deal with this place according to some is that they keep weird hours, sometimes have a long wait (it’s pretty small, only a few tables), have an occasionally rude staff and are known to run out of things. They’ve got some terrible reviews from disgruntled customers on Yelp mixed with some very positive ones. I can only speak for my own experience which I highly enjoyed. They were open when they said they’d be, we were the only people there at the time and didn’t have to wait, they had everything we wanted to eat on hand and our server was super friendly, very helpful and actually excited to help us pick out our vegan options. So cool in fact that they even drew me this adorable little vegan doodle on the back of my receipt:

In case you can’t read the tiny writing, it says “I’m gonna be a vegan!“… so cute!

You’ll just have to see for yourself what you think of Weird Fish if you ever get a chance to try it out, and try it out I suggest you do. I wouldn’t let the naysayers deter you from getting to eat at this unique and delicious restaurant. We don’t have anything like this in L.A. and I’m really glad I got to go there and can’t wait to go back. I recommend calling ahead to find out exactly when they will be open and what vegan options are available that day. Brunch guarantees a long wait so bring a book or a friend and deal with it, it’ll be worth it. Cover your bases and you should be good to go. Enjoy!

Weird Fish
2193 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-4744

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9 Responses to “Bay Area Vegan: Weird Fish”
  1. laura says:

    you know, it’s probably just as well that The Mission didn’t have all these cool restaurants when i lived there back in the 90s as i couldn’t have afforded them anyway. somehow there was always $ for vodka though.

  2. Oh how cool that place sounds! I loved fish & chips as a kid too. Thanks for the review, the food looks great!

  3. kim g. says:

    That sounds and looks so awesome! The photo of the wings is killing me – but all the fried stuff looks pretty great.

  4. Melisser says:

    The best time to go is the middle of the day, like 2pm. Even on weekends, if you go after brunch, but before dinner, you’re good!
    The menu changes so much, I haven’t gone recently. I never know what I’ll get!

  5. bongload says:

    mission and 18th. keeping it punk rock!

  6. chow vegan says:

    I’ve heard of this place but haven’t been there yet. Now I really want to go. Thanks for the review! :-)

  7. ASB says:

    I’ve never had fish and chips- vegan or otherwise, but Red Bamboo in NY has incredibly delicious and authentic fish sticks served with tartar sauce & fried shrimp served with cocktail sauce. Their wings aren’t too shabby either!

  8. Chris says:

    I used to love WF, but then they screwed me one too many times and I ended up writing one of those bad reviews you mentioned. The thing is, the Buffalo Girls are awesome and I miss them. I have actually started making my own, which is great, but sometimes I’m out and I want some damn hot wings. So here’s my little secret, a couple blocks away from WF is a bar called Benders (22nd and S.Van Ness). They have a satellite WF kitchen, live music, punk rock jukebox, and no WF lines, disappointments, or attitude, plus the portion sizes are larger and cheaper. They do have sushi one night of the week so check before you go. And, fyi, the tofu scramble at WF is to be avoided at all costs! Their potato bowl of stuff thing is also not good (not hot, not flavored, big pile o’ cold mush). In the spirit of the grass always being greener, I have to say your site makes me wish I lived back home in LA now that I’m vegan—SF just can’t hold a candle to all the choices you’ve got down there.

  9. FoodEater says:

    Chris: Bad news, seems Benders is no longer doing the Weird Fish action, and apparently even Weird Fish is serving a lot less of their previously delicious vegan food… boo!
    More info here: