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  • Veg-friendly Veg-friendly
    ( 30 reviews )
Contact 619-702-7160

947 E St (at Tenth Ave, downtown), San Diego, California, USA, 92101

Serves meat, vegan options available. Grungy cafe popular with youngsters. Features an extensive range of Mexican dishes with some vegetarian options including tacos, burritos, tostadas, and breakfast all day. Vegans to specify no dairy, etc. Large portions. Open Mon-Fri 11:00am-10:00pm, Sat-Sun 10:00am-10:00pm.

Category: Lacto, Ovo, Fast food, Take-out, Mexican, Catering, Non-veg

Reviews (30)

First Review by Nicola1980

Delicious food right downtown! - Edit

I'll be honest, I was a little disappointed when I saw that San Diego was somewhat limited in vegan dining options -- isn't plant-based eating what SoCal is supposed to be about?! I was in town very briefly visiting a friend and found Pokez to be in walking distance. The tofu, mushroom and potato burrito was enormous, insanely filling and was smothered in an incredible vegan gravy. In a world with so few vegan options, Pokez delivers!

Pros: price, portions, atmosphere

Cons: wait time, small space (not good for large parties)

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definitely grungy but tasty - Edit

We visited Pokez while in San Diego - if it had been a weekend we would've gone someplace with a whole vegan brunch but it was 10 am on a Monday morning and their tofu scramble with chorizo sounded good. We ended up ordering that plus TWO other dishes (tofu/potato/mushroom enchiladas and burrito) because we were starving and it was a TON of food. The place was definitely grungy feeling but we left stuffed and satisfied. (And it's within walking distance of Donut Bar, where we got some donuts to go for later when we had room in our bellies!!) I just wish they had vegan cheese and sour cream options...

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Best Mexican Food - Edit

This place is amazing! I had the fajitas and my husband had the vegan chorizo plate. It was so good and the food was hot and fresh out of the kitchen. The beans, the cabbage slaw, the guacamole and omg the tortillas! So much delicious food at a good price too! We will be back next time we are in San Diego.

Pros: excellent food, authentic, great service

Cons: location

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A diamond in the rough - Edit

I try to come here every time I travel to San Diego for work. It doesn't look like much, but that is part of the charm for me. You'll see everything from business attire to grunge-wear to resort-wear. They have several vegan options, but I've never made it past the vegan machaca. Although I did find the flavorful spice mix to be a little too salty, I love the fact that the tofu is partially "blackened" which really makes a difference. And the portions are enormous. The staff are maybe not as attentive as they should be, but that may be part of the laid back vibe. They are friendly though, and that matters more to me.

Pros: Huge portions, Great value

Cons: A little heavy on the salt, staff could be more attentive

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Great Mexican Food - Edit

The food here is very tasty and they have many options for vegetarians and vegans labeled clearly on the menu. They serve pretty large portions. Be ready to wait if you go during peak dinner hours on a weekend, the location is not enormous and it's popular (because it's good) so it can get packed.

Pros: Well labeled menu, Many vegetarian and vegan options

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Friendly service, lots of options - Edit

We had a tofu burrito and tofu fajitas. After the yummy and very spicy salsa, which arrived almost before we sat at a table, we anticipated spicy entrees, but the food was somewhat bland. We fixed this by adding left over salsa and some hot sauce to our dishes. I would suggest the owners consider using the approach of many Thai restaurants and ask customers if they want their food mild, medium, or hot.

The tofu was excellent in both dishes- perfectly cooked in the fajitas in long strips, and in chewy crumbles in the burrito.

The outside is colorful and inside a bit of a dive, which I appreciate. Very friendly and prompt service; we did not expect the latter based on some of the reviews we read, and the name!

Pros: many options, friendly

Cons: no liquor, so no margaritas

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Amazing, authentic Mexican food - Edit

Love the food here, it's delicious and authentic Mexican food. The atmosphere is fun and vegan options are clearly marked. They even have great vegan breakfast options.

Pros: Great food, Authentic Mexican

Cons: No vegan desserts

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Cheap and Delicious - Edit

Don't be scared when you walk in! Although it may not look amazing, this restaurant is delicious. Low prices with large portions. Our favorite was the potato/bean/tofu taco. The chimichanga is also delicious (you can't always find a veg chimichanga so it's a must order when you do!). Burritos are huge and only $5. So many options available for vegans!

Pros: inexpensive, delicious, friendly

Cons: not strickly veg

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The best food ever - Edit

Based on the mixed reviews I was a little hesitant to try Pokez, but it's so hard to find vegan Mexican food that I thought I'd take a chance and I'm glad I did. Not only was this the best vegan Mexican food that I have ever had, it was some of the best food of any kind that I have ever eaten period.
The Vegan Machaca and Vegan Chorizo was amazing. Anytime I am in San Diego I will stop here.

Pros: Excellent Food , Friendly Staff, Quirky atmosphere

Cons: Hours on website were misstated

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Nice Service, Not So Nice Food - Edit

The chips and salsa was very good, we didn't had to wait for our food but the food was rather bland... after that salsa I did expect really good food but I was pretty disappointed, my veggie burrito was almost cold and I couldn't really taste much else than the ranchero sauce. Won't go their again.

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OK - Edit

I had a Chimichanga vegan and my husband had the "mexican pizza" vegan and we PAID extra for rice and beans, but only got beans.. and the service was so slow there was really no chance to ask about that. The vegan "mexican pizza" was basically a tortilla with tomatoes and some peppers.. it was pretty sad for whatever it was and not a Mexican Pizza. I would not return to Pokez.

Pros: cheap

Cons: bland, boring, not really VEGAN friendly

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Best hole-in-the-wall Mexican food - Edit

This restaurant has become the standard by which I judge other Mexican restaurants. The chips & salsa are great, the burritos are huge, everything is clearly marked whether it's veg, vegan, meat, etc. The staff is really friendly, and it's never over-crowded. Oh, and their health code scores are always really high! Too bad they serve meat - their ownly downfall.

Definitely go here if you're in San Diego.

Pros: Clear labeling, Good food

Cons: Serves meat

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Yummy Mexican Food! - Edit

Great vegetarian option for Mexican food lovers. Plenty of dishes to pick from... good food! Caution... make sure you have the time to wait for your food before you go... outrageously long wait times for service and food.

Pros: Great flavor, Good portions, Great options

Cons: Wait times, Service, Parking

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Don't judge by it's appearance - Edit

As a vegan, it's hard to find real mexican food that accomodates my diet. Pokez does this. Their flour tortillas taste fresh, the tofu is perfectly seasoned, and they pile their plates high. The sangria was also great, but I don't know if there was alcohol in it. I just wish they would get new menus so that I didn't have to imagine what is behind the old crusted salsa.

Pros: Jukebox, Large portions, Attentive service

Cons: Kind of a shithole

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Most Menu Items NOT Vegetarian - Edit

Ate here on a past trip to San Diego, and here's my Pokez review.

Although some of the food was tasty, we're not sure if we'd return again. On the night we visited there was a long line out the door. From the outside, the restaurant interior looked rather dark and grungy. Well, it was just like that inside: very old furniture, punk like decor, grungy, dark kitchen, and overall a feel of chaos.

After 30 minutes of standing in line we were finally seated but was left waiting for our food for about another 80 minutes or so. It was disappointing to see that the menu consisted of a lot of meat items... not as veg-friendly as we had liked. My husband had wanted to leave but I convinced him to wait it out, because I was curious to try the food that I saw on other people's tables - large portions of burritos, tacos, and other Mexican dishes. We were totally famished and annoyed when the food finally arrived.

My husband got a vegan taco and veggie enchiladas, of which he was okay with the first but not the latter. I got a combination plate of veggie taco, chile relleno, and cheese enchilada which came with a side of rice n beans. I liked the taco for the tasty deep fried shell. The other stuff had too much cheese all over, and I ended up with a stomach ache in the middle of the night. My husband was not happy either.

Despite our mishap, it's easy to see why this place is popular with the teenage hipster & punk crowd - food is cheap, portions large, and it's a hangout see and be seen kinda place for the youngsters.

Pros: cheap, tasty taco

Cons: not all veg, grungy, very slow if busy

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I loved this place!!! - Edit

The tofu/mushroom/potato burrito was so yummy and huge! I had left overs and ate it cold and it still was so tasty! I also got a veggie taco with veggie chorizo and that was amazing! My friend had a shrimp burrito and she loved it! We each had drinks and TWO entrees each and our total was $25! When I visit again, I am definately going back!!!

Pros: Excellent food, Good value, Large choices

Cons: No a/c

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machaca - Edit

Nicce chill atmosphere. Service could be better. I had a machaca vegie burrito. Good size modarate price very good salad on side.

Pros: plenty vegiterian vegan options, moderate price, also serves traditional mexican withmeat

Cons: decent service, could be better

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I guess I'm in the minority here... - Edit

I'd heard a lot about this place before I was in San Diego, so I knew I'd have to check it out. And to be honest, I was pretty disappointed.

The atmosphere and decor are great (even if the place doesn't have a bathroom) and the menu looked promising. Unfortunately, I found the tofu, mushroom and potato burrito to be pretty bland- definitely not the revelation I'd been expecting. My two companions also both reviewed their meals as 'eh'.

As others have said, the service was beyond poor. Food was slammed onto the table, and our waiter was rude when we didn't understand the term 'wet burrito'- it's not a term used outside of the US, and we shouldn't have been made to feel stupid for not having heard it before. Luckily other restaurant patrons were a lot nicer and keen to talk to us, but I won't be recommending Pokez to anyone I know heading to San Diego.

Pros: It was near our hostel

Cons: Bland food, Terrible service, No bathroom- really?

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  Contributions +20

I miss this place so much! - Edit

when I lived in San Diego this was one of my favorite places to eat. Yes its dirty, yes the staff can be interesting, and yes the wait is awful. The food is awesome, and everything else grows on you. We used to joke about the dusty glasses of ice they bring to you for your soda, we just drank out of the cans. The staff warms up to you, if your nice and you tip well. they were never rude, they just seemed kinda angry the first few times we went. Not much bothers me, so we thought it was funny to have our angsty waiter stomping about, slamming glasses down on our table, part of the charm of the place, lol.. I would deal with anything for those potato flautas, they are heaven, and the gaucamole is so f#@$ing good! The juke box is great, the art is always interesting. I really miss this place!

Pros: cheap, tasty, fun

Cons: slow

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A lovely find - Edit

When on holiday in the US I visited San Diego for the day. I got my lunch and set off for a walk around the city. I walked past Pokez and there was a line outside the door and a saw a big vegetarian sign, needless to say I was disappointed I already had my lunch in a bag from somewhere else. If there's a line that long outside, it must be good!
I missed my Amtrack back to LA and was going to have to wait 2 hours till the next one, so I used that as an opportunity to find that cute little place I had seen on my explorations earlier that day. Thank goodness I found it. I loved my food, vegan options were clearly marked on the menu, the waiter was hot and I adored the atmosphere and decor. I couldn't manage to eat my whole meal, so I boxed it up and ate the rest on the train, it was even good cold! It didn't take long to be served and the staff were not rude, although I feel they were a little disinterested that customers were in the restaurant...their handsome looks made up for that, so it was not an issue. I'm so glad I missed my train.

Pros: good food, cute staff, nice atomoshere

Cons: some staff to be perkier, clearer payment system

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Love it! - Edit

I've been going to Pokez since about 1998, and have always loved it. I don't usually get rude service, but the servers definitely don't fawn over customers. That's ok with me. I'm there for the cheap and great food. Tofu, potato and mushroom burrito highly recommended. It's a great place for kids since it is noisy and somewhat chaotic already, I never am embarrassed about my kids being a little noisier than I usually allow.

Pros: tasty food, cheap, big portions, fun atmosphere

Cons: gross bathroom, meat served, mediocre service

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Best tofu fajitas on planet earth - Edit

What can I say about Pokez? My family has been frequenting the place for 15 years or so. I don't really get the complaints about service. If you treat the staff respectfully they always return the favor. The vegan food is outstanding, authentic, and prepared with love. They really get veganism and prepare food carefully. They use organic herbed tofu from San Diego Soy Dairy which is quite possibly the best tofu ever made. Go try a tofu, potato, mushroom taco. Your tastebuds will thank you.

Pros: delicious food, fun decor, jukebox!

Cons: metered parking

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Great vegan options - Edit

There has not been a review in almost a year, so I will just mention that the portions are still huge, the food is still great, the decor is still grunge, and the servers are still rude.

Pros: Vegan options

Cons: I am not cool enough to eat here often

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So true.....So good but so rude... - Edit

Yes, as others have mentioned they really are the rudest and most arrogant servers. No one ever smiles there and they practically throw your food at you. I call ahead and pick it up on my way somewhere else so I don't have to sit in there. It's a cute, punk-rock, little place, but I can't stand bad service. I return for the food and the food alone. The Tofu, mushroom, potato burrito is better than sex and I've heard great things about other menu items (although I can't seem to pick anything else). I tip low or take it to go so I don't have to tip. I honestly don't think that tipping is a requirement. Like any job we should all get paid well and it's not my fault if they don't. I get extras and gifts at my job because I do my job well and I'm very friendly. These folks get low tips because they are SUPER rude. It's not that difficult to be friendly to customers. If it is then get a different job!

Pros: Amazing food, Prices good

Cons: Terrible Service

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a twisted kind of heaven - Edit

i LOVE pokez. so, when compared with traditional restaurants, their service really sucks. but, if you go in with a great attitude and low expectations regarding service, you'll leave completely satisfied. the food is amazing. even after an hour and a half drive to get there, the food is worth the unpredictable wait. my husband always gets the vegan tofu burrito with ranchero sauce. delicious! and i get the vegan tofu fajitas. even more delicious! we have loved everything that we've eaten there. it's a great place to take the family, too. we've brought everyone from our grandparents to our nieces and nephews. my mother-in-law lives in england and loves to visit pokez when she comes out. the food is authentic, amazing, and there's something for everyone - vegan or not. the best part is that they completely understand the vegan diet and i have yet to find something suspicious in my dish. i love the staff and the food. oh, the dining areas and bathroom are filthy... but the kitchen is clean as can be.

p.s. make sure to bring plenty of quarters for the metered parking.


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Sooo Good - Edit

Okay - let me preface this by saying that the service is slow. If you want a quick meal go somewhere else. If you want some of the best Vegan Mexican food in San Diego go to Pokez. I've yet to have anything that I did not love! Also, there is a tattoo shop right down the block that uses all Vegan ink (ask for Eternal Ink) called Seven Seas. Ask for Sergio as he does excellent work!

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BOMB! - Edit

Little busy went on my lunch break took 30 minz for my food, but over heard the waitress say that one of the cooks called in sick. Plenty of cool stuff to look at on the walls while your waiting. But most importantly the food was AWESOME. Tofu, Mushroom Taco GREAT!!!!!

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