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CLOSED: Spread

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 21 reviews )


Contact 619-543-0406

2879 University Ave (at 30th St, North Park), San Diego, California, USA, 92104

A more upscale vegetarian cuisine restaurant that also makes nut spreads (peanut butter, almond butter). Each day's menu changes and is written on a chalkboard. Small, with mostly all-white eclectic furniture. Motto is "nouveau comfort food." Prices are moderate to slightly expensive with a dish priced around $12 to 16. Reported closed to HappyCow, Oct 2014.

Category: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, American, Organic, Catering, Fusion, Wine

Reviews (21)

First Review by marla5575

CLOSED? - Edit

Although I went during posted business hours twice in the past two weeks, the restaurant is not open, although tables are set. I also cannot reach the staff from the listed numbers to inquire and emails are not answered.

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When are you open? - Edit

I would probably like the food if what I've heard is true, however I am starting to believe the other reviews are either very old or someone who knows the owners. I have driven from north county four different times to try and eat at spread over the past three years. I check the hours beforehand everytime, yet every single time I have gone during business hours the restaurant is closed and none of the listed phone numbers work to reach anyone. What is this places deal? And how is it still in business?

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Comment - Edit

I had read about this place on happycow and stopped by in June 2012. Here's my comment about Spread - not a food review.

As I had already eaten dinner at Casa de Luz vegan restaurant just directly across the street, I didn't have any room in my tummy for more food. But I did want to have a look at Spread's menu and space and share my findings with HappyCow members. Also I had heard about spread for some years now, so I felt the desire to check it out.
It's a small space but filled with lots of rounded all-white tables and chairs. At 2 of the tables there were round, ball-like seats hanging from the ceiling. It was quite trippy.

The day's menu is written on a chalkboard, and I was told by the waiter that it changes often. There was a thai garlic fries, a cheese plate, an eggplant fritters, and a couple other ones. I saw the dishes cost ranged from $12 for a starter to $16 for a main plate.

It was a Friday evening but business seemed slow with only 1 table occupied by 2 patrons.

In any case it was an interesting investigation and I will return to try the vegan offerings the next time I visit San Diego North Park district.

Pros: creative dishes

Cons: needs better ventilation

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Super Fun Meal! - Edit

We had dinner recently with my cousins at Spread - various levels of veg*n & meat eaters. I've had many veg*n and raw meals all over the country. I can honestly say this was one of the most fun, memorable dinners I have had -- but not for the right reasons. The offerings at Spread tend toward the delusional. I believe that the owners have good intentions and are passionate about what they are doing, but you can't serve sliced zucchini and call it "raw pasta" or strawberries with toasted choc nibs (I think?) and call it "raw chocolate cake." The descriptions were so over the top as to be comical and the portions small. Some of the food was legitimately tasty and overall pretty healthy (despite the huge amount of oil & salt), but not enough to justify the unbelievable price. I usually won't write negative reviews -- I'd rather just not say anything than do anything to potentially do harm -- but it this case, Spread has got to get more down to earth and do some serious reflection about what they want to be. Maybe it was the Kava we accidentally ingested at Kava Bar down the street (before we realized what Kava is), but I suggest saving your money and go to another one of the many fab veg*n places in SD, or be prepared to splurge and have a hilarious meal at Spread.

Pros: Hilarious, Some good tasting food, Interesting Water

Cons: Meal not as described, Super expensive, Not particularly great food

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Great! - Edit

What a great place! Unique, high quality, fantastic vegetarian food. These guys have a real passion for what they do. The result is a menu that raises the bar. Whether you are veggie or not, you should experience this place for a real culinary experience. Brilliant.

Pros: Innovative, Unique , Treat the taste buds!

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Good but Expensive - Edit

Spread said that they were unusually booked, so we felt lucky to be in when I called for reservations. We arrived a few minutes after 6 pm and had to rap on the locked door; they reluctantly let us in. For a while we were the only ones in the restaurant and wondered what the big fuss was about. By the time we left about 7 pm, they were almost full. They had one portable menu that they were finishing up, so we had to wait until that was done before we could decide on what to order. Only one table can look at the menu at a time. After we had ordered, we had some time to read the Happy Cow/VegOut reviews on my mobile app. This was a good thing as we were able to prepare ourselves for the small portions. I did notice that there was a disparity between the reviews. It was obvious that the restaurant stakeholders had included their own reviews (the chef works really hard, repeated mentions of fresh local organic produce, threats to leave San Diego because patrons are cheap, etc.). But seriously, do people really believe that all produce is picked that day? If you go to the farmer's market at 9 am, there's no way people are picking produce that morning at 5 am. Try the day before. Oh and one reviewer said they ate at places all over the country, yet Spread was the best. Apparently, they had never hit SF or NYC for fine vegan dining, or they're a Spread owner/chef.

We had an artichoke pasta dish and pureed cauliflower with veggies (these 2 items were $37 - yikes). To be fair they were both really good, but the pasta was swimming in oil and the cauliflower was drizzled (drenched?) with oil and we each had one bite was way too salty. The reviews were helpful in helping us decide NOT to order dessert. I liked the decor (lots of contrasts, the casual dress of the wait staff/owners (all in Spread t-shirts and jeans) but table cloths and cloth napkins, the modern clean look of the furniture and walls but dead tree branches hanging down from the ceiling, etc. The plastic pool chairs were nicer to look at than sit in, but weren't that uncomfortable.

In summary, the food was beautiful, creative, and tasty, but too much oil and at times too much salt. Slightly overpriced. The decor was okay, but it did get noisy once the dining room filled up, the wait staff/owner were great, but they need to invest in at least another chalk board (which was sometimes moved out to the sidewalk) or a couple of Etch-a-Sketches. All but one of the selections could be veganized.

Pros: Friendly Staff, Great Food, Vegan Friendly

Cons: Very Oily, Expensive, Difficult Parking

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Wonderful place in San Diego - Edit

Had a wonderful meal there while visiting San Diego recently. As other reviwers have said, the menu changes daily, depending on the ingredients they have bought that day. I didn't think the choice was THAT limited, and definitely have to disagree about the portion sizes - got way more food than I could eat. The owner and staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating - I arrived about 20 minutes before they were officially open and they let me sit in the restaurant and got me drinks while they prepared to open.

The decor is both funky and elegant and I'd put this place on a par with some of my favorite restaurants around the country. Can't wait to go back.

Pros: Inventive fresh food, Friendly staff, Generous portions

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Our first visit to Spread was when we were in La Jolla and looking for a vegetarian restuarant. We had an outstanding meal from the decor to the food to the service. The second time we planned our vacation around going to Spread. The portions can be small and are served family style, but that is what made it so much fun. The entire meal was interactive. If you appreciate farm fresh products and are up for new flavors this is the place for you. My family refers to it as THE MEAL

Pros: flavors, service, coolness

Cons: far from home

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Great Vegetarian Find - Edit

We found Spread in a local magazine, listed as one of the best restaurants in San Diego. It certainly deserves that title. We loved it so much that we returned for a second dinner during our 6 day stay. Both meals were fantastic. They use all fresh, organic ingredients that are in season. The menu is different every day and is brought to your table on a chalkboard. Every dish was creative and delicious. We brought a non-vegetarian friend with us the second time and he loved it too. The desserts were also fantastic. The atmosphere is funky and very casual. Service is excellent.

Pros: Delicious food, Healthy cuisine, Great staff

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Don't waste your time (and money)! - Edit

I don't think I have seen such small portions served in any restaurant ever! While the food was OK (not great), the miniscule amount of food they served us was almost laughable, except for the fact that it was VERY expensive. What the owners are thinking is hard to fathom. We will not be returning.

Pros: friendly

Cons: tiny, tiny portions, uncomfortable seating, food just so-so

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best fresh vegetarian food in San Diego! - Edit

I've been to Spread 3 times, and each time it's an amazing experience. The food is delicious, the staff is friendly, and even though I've only been there 3 times, on the 3rd time, one of the owners (? I think he's an owner) recognized me and my bf, and couldn't believe it had been 9 months since we had been there. I only have 2 complaints- it's too far from my house (about a 30- 40 minute drive), and it's too expensive to eat at every weekend! But I definitely recommend Spread (take your non-veg friends, too!)

Pros: excellent food!, healthy, good portion sizes

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Reviewer Avatar

Very disappointed. - Edit

My partner and I went to Spread for the first time yesterday and were so excited to try a new vegetarian restaurant. Being vegan in San Diego is a challenge because there are not a lot of good vegetarian/vegan restaurants and we were hoping for the best. Sorry to say, it was so disappointing. The first thing that caught our attention was how uncomfortable the chairs were. They were almost like lawn chairs or something and it was a challenge trying to find a comfortable sitting position. "Oh, well", we thought, "no problem", and we looked forward to our meal. But, it only went downhill from there. The server was friendly and explained each dish on a very limited portable blackboard menu. We were told that we should order 2=3 entrees. We were a little put off when we were told that they only serve one dish at a time because they encourage sharing. We wondered (privately) why we couldn't share more than one dish at a time? The price ranged from $15-$17 per entree which seemed high, so we ordered 2 dishes,but we still were excited about our upcoming meal. I ordered a lemonade ($4), and my partner ordered a mojito ($8). The drinks came out with a few pieces of bread and some olive oil with flowers in it. The drinks were tiny and overly sweet and the bread was dry. Our first dish arrived (bruschetta and garlic) and it was tasty, but tiny, and it used the same small dry bread. The next dish was gumbo and it was good, but extremely tiny (about the size of a small cup of soup, and it cost $17!!). Strangely enough, it also came with the dry bread. At this point we began to realize that we were not going to leave this restaurant feeling full unless we spent major $$$, so we decided to cut our losses and prepared to ask for the check. That's when the owner came by and began to push his "killer" dessert of home-made chocolate nut butter pretzel. We said OK. Bad decision. It was-surprise-that same tiny bread with the smallest shmear of peanut butter on it! We couldn't eat more than one bite each because it was so dry. Oh, and the price-$11!! A PB &J at home would have been a thousand times better. Total bill, including tip was $80 ! We left the place sort of shell-shocked. We were served the equivalent of maybe a small appetizer at most restaurants and two poor drinks and we were charged $80? I wish we had better things to say, as the server and owner were both friendly and the service was fast, but that is impossible.

Pros: friendly, fast service

Cons: super expensive, miniscule portions, one dish at a time theme

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great food, fun atmosphere - Edit

had a great experience at Spread. the food was fresh, beautiful, and yummy. Almost all the options were vegan. all were organic and local. they used lots of edible flowers. my husband who is not veg loved it also

Pros: excellent food, friendly staff, beautiful presentation

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cool place - Edit

Very trendy upscale place. a little expensive, but the food is good. Very limited menu, because they use very fresh ingredients. Seating is uncomfortable. Staff/management was helpful with info and vegan requests.

Pros: fresh food, healthy

Cons: crowded seating, prices

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Definitely a 5, but some may not like - Edit

Spread is like a Tapas style veggie place, except each tapa is $16. The dishes are so amazingly flavorful. Its like alchemy with flower infusions. Even the water is flavored. Don't miss out on their cocktails either. The negative is that its not your typical large vegan overload food for the $. Also, they use a lot of oil. Next time we're going to try to request oil free, but we didn't want to insult the chef. Its a really great, inventive place and if you're really into experiencing new things / flavors its for you. If you want a burrito the size of a football, then no.

Pros: inventive, flavorful, drinks

Cons: small portion, too much oil, uses toxic cleaning products

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The food at Spread is very good. I am not sure where some of the poor reviews are coming from - but the owner is clearly passionate about offering only fresh organic gourmet food. The price is a little higher than most places - but by no means more than a good regular restaurant. I think some of the people here equate vegan to cafes and health food stores. The portion sizes were fine - we shared a salad and 2 entrees for 2 people - plenty of food. The desert was simple - fruit and one of the spreads as a dip - great.
They were very serious about explaining the menu to you - we felt like we were back in school - but we will for sure go back.

Pros: Food, Staff, changing menu

Cons: decor

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Spread the bad news - Edit

The restaurant is more about selling an experience by setting a chic and hip atmosphere. It is not a place to enjoy a plate of deliciously prepared vegetables. It's too much about being cool than being comfortable enough to enjoy your food. Although the food was "prepared" creatively, the amount was just ridiculously small. I like the idea of using fresh and local supplies; however that was the only thing I like about Spread. If you want to waste your time and money, this is the perfect place for you.

Pros: vegan, local foods

Cons: small portion, costly

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