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Good Karma Artisan Ales & Cafe

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 37 reviews )
Contact 408-294-2694

37 S 1st St, San Jose, California, USA, 95113

Vegan establishment serving artisan ales and stouts and a variety of food items such as salads, Thai curry, dal or burritos. Open Mon-Sat 11:00am-10:00pm, Sun 12:00pm-8:00pm.

Category: Vegan, American, Beer/Wine, Take-out, Asian, Fusion

Reviews (37)

First Review by cyndiesel

Good Food - Edit

I love the food, especially the Buddha Buns. They also have a great beer and snacks. The only downside is service isn't very friendly, but they are all always busy which could be why. I love this place though and recommend it.

Pros: great food, great beer, vegan

Cons: not friendly

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Best Food so far in Bay Area - Edit

Happened upon this little gem of a restaurant yesterday. The food was delicious and reasonably priced. Definitely order the spicy chocolate pie, you won't be disappointed. My husband loved their beer since it wasn't over the top hoppy. The restaurant has a great vibe, it's small and friendly feeling. The staff are terrific. Yay for somewhere that has more than just a veggie burger on their menu.

Pros: Quality of food, Spicy chocolate pie, Ambience and staff

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favorite vegan in san jose - Edit

dining at my fave vegan spot in san jose. it's basically a really cool beer pub that only serves killer vegan food. jamaican jerk tofu -yum! street tacos! as usual, I ordered numerous items -like six. and the beer and kombucha selection is unique artisan style only from around the world. i.e., yummy beers. staff is friendly and laid back. patrons have hippie kinda vibe. I dig it. yeah, best vegan spot in silicon valley. seriously, carnivorous humans will dig this spot too. we're love, y'all. we're love.highly recommended

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Stick with the plates, super knowledgeable staff! - Edit

I love this place. Super knowledgeable bartenders with a great selection of vegan beer and tasty, hearty food. I do prefer the plate options to the a la carte options--the buddha bun in particular can get pretty soggy. The plate options, on the other hand, you can't really go wrong with. Also conveniently located across from a nice vegan tattoo place.

Pros: great food, knowledgeable staff, great atmosphere

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Vegan Quesadillas! - Edit

Conveniently located across from the (north bound) Santa Clara light rail stop is a little vegan bar called Good Karma! They have a new list of beers every week as well as a selection of non-alcoholic drinks, including kombucha. Good Karma has a good menu of vegan dishes-- I highly recommend their Quesadillas, they are amazingly delicious!

Pros: Friendly staff and quick service, Variety of food and drink options

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Delicious food, beautiful cafe! - Edit

This place has beautiful antique detailing in a lushly decorated interior. I had the kale bowl with quinoa, black beans, and tahini sauce. Delicious! And inexpensive at $6-something.

Pros: vegan and delicious , cheap, beautiful

Cons: no ice

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Reasonable price lacking in atmosphere - Edit

it seems that it is more of a beer house and that the food has become secondary. Grab a menu then grab a seat when ready order at counter. Due to previous reviews about small portions I ordered a 3 plate with quinoa for about $10, way too much food and I felt it was not too expensice. The Chana Masala was ok, the roasted red mashed potatoes and the dal were excellent as well as the cinnamon baklava. My husband who is not vegan enjoyed his thai curry and baklava as well along with a pumpkin porter. if you don't mind lots of noise the food is good and plentiful for the price.

Pros: Vegan food reasonable prices

Cons: loud and lots of beer drinkers when yhe Sharks are

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Good beer! food is ok. - Edit

Now, when I go here I love the area. It's relaxing but, the beer servings and taste are beautiful! The food however, is ok just wish the portions were a bit bigger for the price.

Pros: BEER

Cons: Food portion sizes for price

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Great place! - Edit

Finally, I can enjoy my vegan meal with a nice cold draft beer There are only few vegan places that have so many options on draft. I liked the food too, but I would definitely return for the beer :).

Pros: Many options of beer on draft, Cozy atmosphere

Cons: Small portions, Bathroom door "in" the kitchen

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Solid food, shady customer service - Edit

I showed up at 11AM after calling this joint, and had to wait an hour before I could be served. I was stoked nonetheless, as there were Sleep and Om prints on the wall, and a pretty rad lady that owns or manages it.

I was then served by another woman whom made us get up from our seats, then line up in a single file line based on the order in which we arrived. No menus were given out until I asked, no silverware was set down, she didn't get me a drink, and the whole situation was rushed for no reason. I felt like we were being ushered by a grade school lunch aid, rather than being treated like a paying customer.

The food was delicious, but in small quantities. The jerk tofu was excellent, and the chocolate mousse cake was rich and full of flavor.

I'm usually the most easy going customer there is, and I drove all the way out to San Jose to give this place a try. If you don't mind being treated like a dog, paying $17 for a kid sized plate of food, this place isn't bad. However, I would avoid this place purely on the customer service.

Pros: originality of the food, quality of the food

Cons: size of servings , the "waitress" that doesn't wait on you, not opening on time

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Disappointed on our Veganversarry - Edit

Sorry for the one star but when two vegans show up to your vegan cafe to celebrate their three year veganniversary its best not to tell us that a cow can't even be explained it's rights or that you feel fine about eating eggs. We came here to escape this way of thinking for a meal and assumed a vegan cafe would be a safe bet.

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Rad vegan spot!!! - Edit

Traveling & eating vegan= "good karma" restaurant! A must stop when in San Jose!!! Jamaican jerk tofu, spicy basil tofu, chili verde ( saitan) , organic kale salad, arugula beet salad... Fantastic... All vegan menu with cool craft beers!!! I ate here 3 days in a row:)))

Pros: location, tons of items on menu

Cons: none

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Love their steamed bun and mashed potatoes! - Edit

I've been to Good Karma only a handful of times. It is a very "trendy, hipster" kind of place. Lots of craft beers, which is good. The food is simple, you pick a plate with how many options you want, 1, 2 or 3. You can get a kale bowl or burrito. Super easy. They have a few things (like 6 or 8) you can choose from for your plate. Their mashed potatoes and gravy are amazing!!!

Pros: vegan, trendy vibe, good beers

Cons: small!

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Food is OK, atmosphere so-so - Edit

First of all, they have a good choice of food and also beers and and our dishes were tasty. Staff was also very nice, but...Personally, I did not like the atmosphere. It is exactly what most people expect a vegan restaurant to be like: Casual atmosphere, alternative interior decoration, hippies everywhere. We felt a little out of place, but I guess a lot of people like it as there were quite a few guests there in the middle of the day.

Pros: Parking nearby, Good food, good choice of dishes

Cons: Weird atmosphere

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Great food and atmosphere! - Edit

I went to Good Karma for lunch while attending a workshop in downtown San Jose. I went based on previous reviews on the deli as well as the fact that it was the closest vegan place to the workshop. I was just bowled over by the food and the atmosphere. I had the kale salad as well as the thai curry and the spicy basil combination. I also had the Brew Dr. Kambucha which was definitely a bonus. The price was great, the service quick and the food excellent. If you're in downtown San Jose - this is a place you should NOT miss!

Pros: Excellent food, Quick service, Good price

Cons: Noisy because we sat outside

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Beer - Edit

Not much selection from the near buffet style food but it can be fixed any way you like it. You also get a healthy portion for your buck. Desserts at the counter are too tempting to resist when your paying your tab. The decor is amazing...I notice something new every time I'm there. The best part is the bar, although in an awkward "alley like" spot. They have a great selection of beers on tap to keep you busy for the evening.

Pros: simple menu, affordable, brewski

Cons: simple hard to see menu, small space, awkward set up

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Yummy & Friendly - Edit

What a wonderful surprise! Tucked away in a little downtown strip. It is well worth finding. The food is deliciously prepared with lots of variety to choose from. All vegan! We had a combination plate of chick pea marsala, a cabbage salad, quinoa, another item and a REALLY yummy chipotle sauce.

Pros: Flavorful, Variety, Friendly

Cons: None

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Vegans that appreciate good craft beer! - Edit

This is my first review on Happy Cow and I just wanted to say this place is awesome.

I've been vegetarian my whole life and I've never eaten meat. I've more recently become vegan as well while also trying to lower my gluten/added sugar intake. ( Poison... look it up! )

Anyways, I read through a lot of the bad reviews and I completely disagree with all of them. The color of the food doesn't look good? It doesn't look appetizing? Are you crazy!?!? First of all maybe your preconceptions of what color food should be is tainted by mainstream processed/added food coloring foods ( also poison ). Everything looked great. I had the burrito with added tofu scramble... Delicious!

On top of all of this, Ryan knows good beer! So you get awesome inexpensive vegan food ( vegan deserts without added sugar or gluten.. what!?!!? ) AND awesome craft beer selections, what else do you want?

Also... guy from NY... no one cares where you are from. People smoke... and I doubt they were inside the establishment smoking. Don't ding the establishment because of other people ruining your 1 time experience, get over it. Also maybe hole-in-the-wall atmospheres isn't your thing, so go somewhere else. ( Millenium in SFO is fine vegan dining )

I enjoyed this quiet vegan gem while I worked, had some good beers ( gluten in beer I know, it's a weakness ) and made some new friends.

Thanks Good Karma, I will be back tomorrow!

Pros: Inexpensive, Craft Beer Selection, Large Selection

Cons: I can't try everything.

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Great draft beer options; increasingly better food - Edit

I've been a regular at Good Karma since they opened, and the food has really improved over that time. It's worth remembering that it's a casual, quick, *deli-style* setup--don't walk in expecting a more 'fancy' restaurant made-to-order dish. Personally, I love that the food is quick and not too pretentious. The kale salad and spicy basil tofu are my usual go-tos, as well as the 'buddha buns'. Also, the last time I stopped in, I had a delicious chocolate espresso cupcake. There have been days when some dishes didn't taste just right, but overall, I find things to be consistently tasty.

The place has a nice atmosphere and an **amazing** selection of craft beers, as well. Sure, it's small and often crowded--and I really don't appreciate the occasional smoker that still lurks around the patio seating area--but it's such a refreshing option in the otherwise drab, generally vegan-unfriendly wasteland of downtown San Jose. I hope they stick around for many years to come!

Pros: Amazing selection of craft beers, Tasty, quick vegan food at decent prices, Really nice, knowledgeable staff

Cons: Small space and often crowded, Occasional obnoxious smokers on patio

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Vegan comfort food, laid back vibe - Edit

I would characterize a visit to Good Karma as similar to, but not in a totally uncomplimentary way, going to a house party: you've got people outside socializing/smoking, having to maneuver between a crowd inside, dub music playing overhead, and most people are pretty much there for the beer. This is pretty much what an evening at Good Karma is like.

Whether the atmosphere is of appeal is down to personal preference, but let me just say that the food really good. It's like vegan comfort food. I had BBQ Chikn Drumsticks (I could eat a ton of those), Jamaican Jerk Tofu (YUM), and Mashed Potatoes (BEST), AND a slice of chocolate pie...all for around $10. They've also got a variey of craft beers on tap which I still have yet to try, but are apparently very popular.

Yeah, it's small. In fact, how they manage to have live music performances is astonishing to me. But you get a sense there's a strong support for the local scene & artists. For this, I'm greatful places like Good Karma exist, and not solely for being one of the few vegan joints scattered around the South Bay.

Pros: Good food + portions, Friendly people, VERY good value

Cons: REALLY small

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Very disappointing - Edit

I'm always excited to try a new veg place. Good Karma was a huge disappointed. The food was overcooked, oversalted slop. The atmosphere was cramped and funky. Cigarette smoked seeped in from one of the 2 outdoor tables. Really? Cigarettes, Vegetarian Food and Good Karma? While I am visiting San Jose from New York, I'll be eating at the Vegetarian House and Tofoo Com Chay, for great food and great service. Sure, I'm not thrilled about the Supreme Master stuff all over the place but the people on staff at both of these places are always kind and the food never disappoints.

Cons: overcooked food, salty food, cigarette smoke

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Good Karma = Love - Edit

go here all the time, the food is soulful, home made goodness. The menu changes but always tastes the same. The beer selection is fantastic and the owners are the sweetest people ever. You can feel the love when they cook for you. We've purchased full holiday meals from them and it was so nice to not have to cook. Did I mention that its the one Vegan restaurant in the entire san jose area that isn't run by the "Supreme Master" cult?

Pros: Vegan, friendly environment, heartwarming food

Cons: variety of menu

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Uninspiring Home Cooking - Edit

Both my partner me were disappointed in the food at the Good Karma. The Chana Masala was very hot but lacked any rich or deep flavor from middle-eastern spices or herbs, just hot. My partner, who prides himself on being able to eat anything, left it on his plate. The vegan Teriyaki Chicken he ate, but only for the food value, but not for taste or appearance. I had the Chana Masala and Thai Curry, but wondered why they called it Thai Curry. It tasted like overly steamed vegetables with a little super market curry powder mixed in

"None of the items in the case look appetizing!" said my grandson who didn't order anything. We should have listened to him. I am in hopes that it was an off day for the Good Karma, but all the items in the buffet case did look pretty sad. Grandpa didn't make any points with his 13 year old grandson.

Pros: Downtown San Jose, Easy to find

Cons: Food, Color of food

1 Response

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govegannow 24 Jul 2011 - I agree. None of the food looked appetizing to me either. Looked like it had been sitting there for hours! The health dept. should pay them a visit! It was nice to have a lot of options I could eat, but overall-SUPER disappointed :(

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Great food! - Edit

I've only been to Good Karma once, but I'm definitely planning on going back. The DAL was AWESOME! The desserts were the bomb! Friendly staff, laid back atmosphere.

Pros: Excellent food, Great Value, nice portions

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would recommend only if in a pinch - Edit

was excited to find what sounded like a cool vegan spot in san jose, however was disappointed with the options and the quality. no fresh beverages, they're all out of bottle...which was fine, it's a deli after all. but the food (out of the deli case) was reheated in microwave. my dining partner found two hairs in his meal, unsure if it was human hair or the hair from the server's dog (he went back and forth to visit his dog outside all during our meal). before leaving, went to the loo, a site i wish i hadn't seen, especially since it was right off the kitchen (will spare the details!). i enjoyed the flavors of my food, however it left me feeling not-so-great after. on the pros: the chocolate pie was amazing...and i liked the indie/artsy spirit. overall, perhaps a good spot for the undiscerning college student, but not for someone who enjoys vegan quality.

Pros: vegan dedication, indie vibe

Cons: unsanitary to the eye, limited menu

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Satisfying Cafeteria Style Meals - Edit

We get down to San Jose about once a year. Good Karma Vegan Deli will be a recurring stop for us. Last January 2010, we stopped in for lunch several times!

The food is served cafeteria and deli case style. The food is sold by the plate, with the option to get one or several different choices on your plate. They serve everything from home cooking style mashed potatoes and gravy, spaghetti and salad to various Asian staples like black bean tofu.

If you don't like your food touching, this isn't the place to eat. However, if you're like me and love the blending of flavors as sauces co-mingle, you might enjoy Good Karma.

My husband enjoyed the more spicy offerings, such as the curries and chana masala, with a cold beer. I on the other hand am really sensitive to spice and stuck to the mellower choices. I really liked the mashed potatoes, though they were a bit salty, I ate them several times! The spaghetti was delicious, and I loved the tofu scramble.

I was a bit disappointed in the drink offerings for those who don't drink alcohol, like myself.

The service was good, the staff was willing to chat and talk about the food available when it wasn't busy. However, a couple of times we went when they were supposed to be open and they hadn't opened yet.

Definitely a place I'll visit again, a comfortable place for a filling meal.

Pros: Cheap and Quick, Lots of Flavor, Satisfying Portions

Cons: Sometimes Closed When Listed as Open, Salty

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Addicted!! - Edit

First time I ever went here i was hooked! I recommend this place to vegan and non vegan a like cause either way you life your life the food will not dissapoint you. This is actually a GREAT place to bring a new vegan or someone who's thinking of turning vegan because it's a wonderful first-time vegan food experience. Staff is very nice too. They have a saying on the wall behind the counter: "Work hard and be nice to people," They really live up to that!


Pros: Excellent Customer Service, Excellent Food, Fun atmosphere

Cons: Service is usually a little slow, No whole wheat tortilla option, Parking is a pain, but it's downtown soo

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Incredible food, atmosphere and service! - Edit

My boyfriend and I tried out Good Karma and it was absolutely amazing. We tried it on a Sunday, so it wasn't very crowded and there was plenty of seating available. The guy helping us was so nice and offered a lot of advice for vegans new to the area!

The food was AMAZING! We had the mashed potatoes (to die for), the stuffed bell peppers (super good) and the BBQ "chicken wings" (I don't know how they do it). Everything was so delicious and what a great deal for $9! My bf and I filled up with just one plate!

There's a lot of really great art on the walls and there's definitely a laid-back, eclectic feel (which I happen to love).

Definitely try this place if you're in the area.

Pros: GREAT food!, Wonderful staff, Cool atmosphere

Cons: zip

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only one drawback - Edit

excellent hand made food, with a variety of choices. mostly indian based items, curies and chick peas, but with teriyaki items too, stuffed bells, tofu scramble. some wraps, but i have never tried them.
all items are displayed and you get three and some brown rice for under 8 bucks.
a nicely laid out space with local artists displayed on the walls and generally cool music playing.
the drawback? they server beer on tap. and the people who come in for the beer seem to be friends with whomever is working at the time, frequently taking away from the (what i feel) primary purpose of a vegan restaurant: paying attention to the customer who wants to order and eat. hip slackers guzzling beer and my desire to have a good vegan meal dont seem to mesh well, especially when, as i said, the drinkers are friends with the staff.

Pros: fresh and flavorful, great selection.

Cons: prices seem to keep rising, sharing tables with beer drinkers, no parking

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Excellent - Edit

I ate here in the evening and the food was excellent. The young woman there explained all the different choices available that night. I had Curry Tofu and Terryaki Tofu, both of which were exceptionally good. I agree with another reviewer that they need to label the different choices available, but other than that I would rate it excellent food, service, and value. I would eat here again.

Pros: Excellent food, Good value, Friendly/helpful staff

Cons: No food labeling, Not my favorite music

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hit the spot after a marathon! - Edit

went here after my husband ran the SJ Marathon. it was a weekend, so it was slooooooooooow-- looks like the food had been in the case for a while...

BUT it was YUMMY! loved that you could pick out your items individually- VERY generous portions. Went out of their way to make sure our 5 year old had kid-friendly food.

cool little urban cafe w/ friendly staff & great downtown location

Pros: GREAT food, laid back , location

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Cool Place - Edit

Stumbled across this place with my teenage son on our way to a Sharks game. It was a bit awkward at first - we went in and didn't understand how the process worked (there is a menu that lists all that they offer but you need to choose from what is available in the case that day). We weren't sure if we were supposed to sit and order or stand at the counter and no one acknowledged our presence for about 5 minutes. Really uncomfortable. If we weren't so hungry we probably would have left.

Finally someone explained to us how things worked and we picked two entrees. We had to ask for each option to be explained because there were no signs indicating what was what and the person helping us seemed a bit put out by having to explain to us.

I had like a stuffed potato dumpling type of thing that was EXCELLANT. My son had a pasta dish that was just OK. I also had some salad with a cajun ranch dressing which was really good.

When I went to pay I was shocked at how cheap everything was! So it was a great value and I really enjoyed my meal so I would absolutely try it again.

Pros: Cheap, Good food, Nice selection of beers

Cons: Service could be much better, Need better signs, Food should be labeled

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Good Place - Edit

I went to Good Karma while I was in San Jose visiting. I went with a non-vegetarian friend. I enjoyed the food. The staff was very professional and helped me pick out what I needed to match my eating needs. I will go back the next time I am in the area.

Pros: Cheap, Friendly Staff, Informative

Cons: Deli Style

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Awesome place!!! - Edit

It's a wonderful place with great food and wonderful staff. A few things to keep in mind:You need to get there early or late for lunch because there will be a line! They have a menu of everything they make, but every day they only make a few things from the menu, but they are very fresh! Give their choc cheese cake a try!

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Best Vegan food ever - Edit

I have been a vegan for 14 years and I have never come across a place like this. The service is great, the atmosphere is great and the food is so good I cannot put it into words. If you are lucky enough to go in when they are serving mashed potatoes please do yourself a favor and order them. They are THE best potatoes you will ever have. Good food, good service and a cool place to hang out who could ask more.

Pros: Great art on the walls, Great service

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