Pokez Mexican and Vegetarian Cuisine

Veg-Friendly Restaurant
Average: 3.8 (61 votes)

Pokez has a wide array of Mexican vegetarian favorites. It's funky and laid back atmosphere make it a popular hang out. While not even entirely vegetarian pokez is very vegan friendly. This family owned business has a lot to offer in the way of inexpensive vegan options. Try the tofu chimichanga or the soyrizo burrito.

Email: <none>
Location: Downtown (map)
Info Hours
947 E St.
San Diego, CA 92101
Mo 10am-9pm Fr 10am-9pm
Tu 10am-9pm Sa 9am-7pm
We 10am-9pm Su 9am-7pm
Th 10am-9pm

Reviews (Write a review)

Author Title / Comment Rating
Chris Pacifico (unverified)
Sep 12, 2011
Pokez makes comedians happy

Half of the creative talent behind The Chappelle eats at Pokez every time he's in town, so it can't be bad! http://local.sandiego.com/comedy/obama-twitter-and-pokez-the-neal-brenna...

nicole (unverified)
Sep 01, 2009
sooo good!

Pokez is by far my favorite place to eat. They have the best veg choices anywhere, so delicious! Everytime I take someone new there with me it becomes their favorite too. If you're a pain in the ass they will treat you like crap, if not, they treat you just fine, it's never taken more than 15 minutes for my food to be in front of me there.

Tom G. (unverified)
Jul 28, 2009

I hate to badmouth a veg-friendly place, but this place was not so great. Food was OK, but not great. Service was horrible. They weren't so much rude to us, as indifferent. We waited a reeeeeeally long time for service, and were (apparently) a nuisance to the staff. I've been very hesitant to go back. I wouldn't really recommend this place.

XDANIELLEX (unverified)
May 12, 2009

I could have given them 4 Stars but I added that 5th one for all you haters out there! So suck it :)

Suz (unverified)
Apr 27, 2009
Wow It Just Gets Worse

I decided to take a trip down memory lane, and check out my review here from 2005. Can't believe this place actually has been rated the same by so many others.

All I have to say is... Hope the economic down turn takes you losers down. Making customers miserable shouldn't be anyones priority. I am proud to say I ate here once, and never came back.

Waving the middle finger at someone who asks for water is unacceptable.

Dan (unverified)
Mar 21, 2009

We're not from San Diego or the US, we're not 'Emo' or have tattos/piercings and we were served quickly and well.

If you want the 'fake' smiley service you get elsewhere then don't go here.

If you want very good cheap food served by normal people you'll enjoy Pokez.

Eric (unverified)
Mar 08, 2009

This is by far the worst restaurant in San Diego, either veg friendly or not. I have eaten here several times because they are the only one's with vegan enchilatas. The service here is so horrible that I would rather forgo the food than have to deal with the staff. They are disrespectful, rude, and make you feel like you are bothering them when you order. They are running a business and should not try to drive away their customers. Let me tell you about the most recent visit:
Myself, my girfriend, and two of her friends went there for dinner while we were in downtown. We walked in and sat in one of the booths and were never greeted at the door. We sat down and someone put a basket of tortilla chips on the table (I think he was the busboy). When the waitress eventually came over she was rude. I asked if we could separate checks as nobody carried cash and she said we couldn't. I told her that we would need to pay separately and she said 'we don't do that homie'. I asked her if she would rather lose the business or let us separate the checks. She began to yell at me (yes, yell at the customer) so we all left. The worst part is that this is not uncommon. ALSO, there is a sign outside of the restaurant that states that they lost their liquor license because they sold to minor's!! They are rude and break the law! DON'T EAT HERE!!!!!!!!

Darren Bolforth (unverified)
Feb 21, 2009
Vegan? Really?

I've tried this place several times looking for decent vegan fare downtown. The first time it was because it got good reviews. Sorry to say that their Tofu burrito was as greasy as any ground beef burrito and I hope that grease didn't come from runoff from non-vegan dishes cooked on the same grill without at least wiping it off? I've tried some of their other 'vegan' dishes and not only were they not very tasty, they all were nearly as greasy as any dish prepared with ground beef or cooked in manteca. Sorry but this place is not for someone interested in their health or in good tasting food.

Delanyemae (unverified)
Jan 30, 2009
Pokez needs to be sold

Might be the worst place to dine out in San Diego. I can't wait until somebody buys this restaurant and gets rid of all the a**holes working there. Keep the menu but fire everybody!!!!. I would eat there all the time because the food is well price and often very good, but who wants to feel worthless when they go pay somebody to serve them? It's like: 'I'm sorry am I inconveniencing you??? Then get a new job!' I think its really funny that they lost their liquor license. I really hope they never get it back until Pokez has new owners. I bet they never would have lost it if they didn't draw such LARGE amounts of negative attention to themselves by POOR service.

Tina Fortin (unverified)
Dec 19, 2008
Good food, good people

Pokez has the greatest mexican food in San Diego, and they give you plenty. The people that work there are great too! I love Pokez. You guys are the best!

Kerenna Soul (unverified)
Jan 22, 2008
My favorite place!

Pokez is amazing. Their food is great and they have a great atmosphere. Who cares if the service is sometimes slow, get over it. They don't have a huge staff and they do what they can, stop whining about it. Their food is amazing I would eat it everyday if I could! Their beans are delicious and I love all the people that work there!!

Layne and Princess Diana (unverified)
Oct 08, 2007
Some things you either get or you don't...

I read almost all of the below reviews and decided since my wife and I have just recently become quasi-vegan (still wearing leather shoes) we would come see what all the fuss is about.

Imagine driving up to an old southern rural town in a late model european sports car blasting the theme to Miami Vice. You roll down the window to ask directions and an old man sitting roadside asks 'Yer not frum around here ar' ye?'

Pokez is NOT complicated. You either get it or you don't. The people that work there are NOT evil, they are just on a different vibe then your A-typical downtown condo-dwelling tree hugging granola munching yuppie.

POKEZ is not Morton's Steakhouse complainers, their wait staff probably will move on to another career(maybe even your boss)so suck it up and deal or else stop crowding up the place so I can get faster service.

The vegan fajitas were awesome and enough for two. Chips and salsa were on the table almost as fast as my butt hit the seat. The jukebox in the corner added in-meal entertainment.

We were dressed in sweats and Chargers hoodies (they won yesterday)looking like your garden variety gen-Xer's. I can't resist telling you that I'm all tatted up (wifey too) but none were visible (so there is no dark evil link making that manditory for good service).

Bottom line fanatical vegetarian reviewer, if you wrote a lousy review... YER NOT FRUM AROUND HERE AR YE?

No I am not related to anyone there or have any interests in their business.

stn (unverified)
Jun 30, 2007
rules it

i love pokez. i live on the east coast and miss it terribly. i once decided to drive to san diego from las vegas just to eat pokez, en route to san francisco. and the last time i visited SD, it was the very first place i stopped. the waiter was perfectly awesome, relaxed, didn't hover, and we left a massive tip. please consider a satellite store on the east coast. i'll run it.

Greeny (unverified)
Jun 01, 2007
Please just hire a cleaning service

I REALLY REALLY REALLY miss eating here but the dust beard hanging off of the lamps over the table and watching tufts of dust fall onto our table - you guys MUST be making enough money to invest a bit in keeping the place clean. I MISS YOU POKEZ!

***** (unverified)
Apr 16, 2007
please and thank you

pokez is a delicious and affordable establishment with excellent vegetarian and vegan options. you are always treated with respect regardless. as far as hearsay and complaints about the service and wait...be grateful that we even have the option to have a meal prepared and served to us, not everyone is so lucky.

two thumbs up, five stars, kudos and all that jazz to my favorite restaurant

Kevin (unverified)
Mar 28, 2007

Okay - I must say a lot of the reviews here had me nervous. Let's start with the service. I had gone in expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised. The waiter was very polite and got us going right away. The food came out exactly as ordered. My only complaint on service is that once the food was served the waiter did not come back at all.

The food itself was very good. I had the vegan potato burrito and my children had Quesadilia's. They were huge and supposedly very tasty.

For the price I would highly reccomend Pokez to anybody who is looking for quality food at a reasonable price.

Renee (unverified)
Mar 15, 2007
I like it?

If you're uncomfortable with their whole getup then just don't go.

Bottom line: Cheap, yummy, relaxed.

Oh wait, it's because I have piercings and tattoos that I like it so much, right? Haha

David ag (unverified)
Feb 26, 2007
The point has been made.

Look I'm sure this site has been throw around on e-mail as a place to complain about Pokez horrible treatment of the autistic child. I think people should boy- cott pokez too. However blasting this site with 30 reviews all saying the same thing doesn't help your issue. I doubt Pokez reads this and they have gotten the point by now.

The average VSD user is already with you, you have to worry about the indie rock and punk scene hipsters who hang out at pokez if you want to make a dent. but I think you would be better off calling the turko files on KUSI or having a demonstration during their dinner or lunch time rushes. That would get their attention.

Rancho's is better veg mexican food anyhow.

Patrick McKinnion (unverified)
Feb 26, 2007
Terrible Food, Worse Service, and Abusive Waitstaff = Avoid

My experiences with the place? It's a sty (amazed it hasn't been shut down on health code violations), the food was lackluster at best, and the wait staff are attitude on the hoof.

What makes it worse is what happened to a party that a friend of mine was in. The manager and one of the waitresses at this restaurant should not just be fired, but should be in court on assault and battery charges.

I don't care how stressed you are, you DO NOT scream at and yell at an autistic child, NOR do you lay hands on him and shake him.

And if you're the manager, you should fire the waitress on the spot, not blame the parents for having a 'defective child' and order them to leave.

If you're into service beyond horrible and possible ADA violations, then go ahead. Otherwise, avoid this place until they're either closed, or the manager and waitress are fired like they deserve.

The above incident simply insures that not only will I NOT spend my money there, I will recommend to people they avoid it as well.

fer (unverified)
Jan 10, 2007

this is THE place. super affordable, well put together and a fantastic, I mean FANTASTIC, service.

George - a vegan (unverified)
Dec 11, 2006
not just for the hipsters

I wonder if people complaining about the service because they don't look 'emo' or don't have 'tattoos and piercings' just feel defensive and out of place and mistake normal service for a busy restaurant as elitism. Even though my politics are radical, I do not look like a hipster. I dress like a stick-in-the-mud Republican and have always received pleasant service and delicious food. The vegan options are awesome! The service is a little slow, but the place has always been really busy when I've been there so that is expected. I have been with different numbers of my friends -- a diverse bunch -- and have never encountered attitude.

malinda (unverified)
Oct 26, 2006
dining experience wasted

good prices but still a waste. i expected bad service but got good service. the problem was the bland flavor of the food. i must have ordered the wrong thing. however even the basics: the rice/beans and chips were blah. i also ordered a cabbage salad was good but it was way overloaded with dressing. the atmosphere was cool. i want to eat there, i like the atomsphere but will not go back-even for cheap prices, it is not worth wasting the money.

habeeb (unverified)
Jul 27, 2006

if you don't look hip your food is going to taste like diarea and you will be nothing more than just a fly on the wall.

if you do look hip you will be treated great and your food will be good.

i was not treated so well because i am just your average gal looking for a good vegi burrito because i hate meat. but i dont look emo like all the other wannabe 'hip' people.

Ziva (unverified)
Jun 30, 2006
If you don't have tats or piercings...

Good, cheap food, but the service varies. I've been going here for a few years now, and it seems that if you look like you have no tattoos or piercings, you get either ignored and/ or treated like a second class citizen. They seem to be improving, but we had stopped going there for awhile because of this treatment. I hope it continues to get better. If it does, we'll be returning on a regular basis.

Thorski-Roc (unverified)
Jun 29, 2006

My best friend works here...I love the food, the staff,the atmosphere.Best food in the world.I used to love the carne asada but recently started a strict vegan diet and the food has only gotten better.If you're lucky you can get either Rafa or Carlos to cook....they're the best cooks.Pokez for life!!!!!P.s.Iwork in Old Town San Diego and people always ask me what the best mexican restaurant is and I always tell them go to Pokez!!!!!P.p.s.If you think the service sucks it's probably 'cuz you're a dick!!!HA!HA!

xXTIMONSCHAOSXx aka:Super Vegan (unverified)
Jun 08, 2006
Pokez is the BOMB...

OMG when i first had the chimichanga i craved for another one...Hmmm soo good...i also recomend the vegan fajitas...soo good yummi...i love pokez...thank the owners for vegan options for those like me...hehehehe....POKEZ...YOU ROCK...

Sarah (unverified)
Jun 07, 2006
go back to the burbs

This place is all around punk rock. If you can't handle that, then don't go. If you can and you like to eat kick-ass mexican food, GO!

Brenda winkle (unverified)
May 10, 2006
The F*ing Best

Dude, i always send people to Pokez. I've never been unsatisfied. I'm there all the time. Jon Jon, Lupe, Carlos, all of them, whenever i'm in, i get friendly conversation and great service. If you're a dick, they won't sellout for your cheap dick tip. Admirable. i work at sbux, i degrade myself for a $1 tip. They're G. Anyway, expect to be treated the way you treat them. The food is ROCKIN'. The damn best and best prices. Let's go to Pokez. 9/10 times that's where i go.

red wizard (unverified)
May 06, 2006
no complaints on this end

This is our first time eating at Pokez. We've been searching for a good place to munch on mex cuisine & this fit the bill perfectly. My husband is a vegetarian; I am a vegan. The prices are great, the food is outstanding, and the service was perfect. If you're an uptight, cranky and impatient person...go elsewhere...there's no ass kissin' here. We will definitely be back, and much thanks to the owner and staff for super eats and service!!

po yao chuang (unverified)
Feb 21, 2006
pokez is family

I tried to get a job at pokez, because its so cool of a place, food, people, family, vegan, vegetarianism, music, beer, mystic, vibe, I agree Pokez is San Diego, peace and love

R. PP (unverified)
Feb 21, 2006
the goodest bad service there is

There's probably nothing that fills me with quite as much joy as observing bad service provided in a restaurant, and the fully atrocious customer service at Pokez is beyond splendid...Being a food service professional myself, I can say with confidence that all customers, myself included, are mildly irritating to some extent, while a number of them are entirely dicks. This is mainly due to the fact that servers have to traditionally grin and bear even the most tyrannical treatment....seeing the Pokez people disregard all conventions of the customer-server hierarchy is truly inspiring, and the fact that they don't even get paid allows them to be as aloof as they please and puts annoying patrons pretty much at their mercy....I even like it when I get a taate of non-service. I don't eat meat, and, having ordered a tofu burrito, the waitress brought me a fish burrito, which I mistook as a poor version of my actual order for a couple of bites, due to the its complete lack of taste and leathery, overcooked texture....far from upset, I was compelled only to praise the glorious name of Pokez.

ARgirl (unverified)
Jan 05, 2006

I must say that I am not a big fan of Pokez food -- too greasy for my tastes. But my boyfriend and son love it and the prices are hard to beat. As for the staff, I've never had anything but friendly waitresses with great service. I wish the beans and rice were more flavorful and the food was more nutritious because I really like the atmosphere.

anja gunn (unverified)
Dec 21, 2005
I would like a tofu burrito wearing a cape

I have been going to pokez since it has opened, and will continue going as long as it is open. I dont live in San Diego any longer, but when I do travel back it is the first thing on my list! The tofu buritto super vegan with sauce makes me droll( I could prolly drink the sauce straight!) Pokez is the firt place I tell people to go when they get into san diego, it is my one true staple for the city. I am hoping one day Rafa will move to San Francisco and make pokez II-

jessica (unverified)
Nov 25, 2005

I LOVE this place. As a vegetarian theres no better place to get amazing mexican food, and i can bring my vegan and carnivorous friends there too as they offer a wide array of choices. I see the staff has gotten some negetive reviews, but as someone that also works in customer service i'm sure it was the customer, not the staff. If you respect them and treat them like more than just a servant, you'll see they are a friendly and interesting bunch! They, like all restaurant staff, utterly do NOT tolerate stupid, RUDE customers...and they shouldnt have to.

PrincesaMichelle (unverified)
Oct 03, 2005
Good Food/Bad Staff

Positive things first: I like the food, don't find it all that greasy, love the tofu burritos or the vegan fajitas. My husband and I can split a dish and get away with dinner for two people under ten bucks.

Negative Things: I heard that staff doesn't get paid and that they only get the money they receive in tips. You would think this would be reason enough to be more friendly to people. Not so at Pokez. Staff is completely unattentive and rude. Customer service is definitely not on their priority list. Also, I spoke to a waitress who worked there a short time, who was vegan, who informed me that they do use the same fryer to cook their meats and their veggies, for example, that great tasting basket of chips you get before each meal...deep fried in the same oil they do their chicken and beef flautas etc. THAT ISN'T VEGAN!

I'll eat there if I'm in downtown, but I won't go out of my way to eat there.

Mae (unverified)
Jul 20, 2005
Done with Pokez...

Have given them a few chances, and two days ago was the last. A mistake in the order was followed by confrontation and rude service instead of an apology or an offer to correct the problem. In addition, I do not think that they are tops on taste, either. (Salsa is too sweet, beans and rice are rather unflavorful...) Their homemade vegan chorizo is well seasoned, and the cabbage salad is an interesting garnish, but there is better in the city. If you go, remind yourself that it is for the prices, not the cuisine or experience. -And mind the time...the hours listed here (and painted on the outside of the building) are incorrect.

JMM (unverified)
Jul 07, 2005
Greatest Restaurant Ever Assembled

I will consistently drive from LA to San Diego for the sole purpose of eating vegan fajitas at Pokez!!!

schramm (unverified)
Jul 06, 2005

Checked out Pokez for the first time recently. The food was great! the place was packed, and while the service was a little slow, so what? we went there to eat great vegan food and hangout --- Pokez fit the bill perfectly.

Super food, clean place, friendly & helpful waitstaff = 4 stars.

I expect to be back there a lot.

Mona (unverified)
Jul 04, 2005
Casual, slow, cheap

Cheap with good sized portions. Tasty, but seemed to take much longer than necessary to make vegan Mexican food. If you go when there's a baseball game, look for parking on the other side of the major street, away from all the $15+ special event parking lots. Recommended for casual, no rush, cheap dining.

NewVeg (unverified)
May 24, 2005

The food is pretty good, as a vegan if you want Mexican food, it's a lifesaver. I heard somewhere that the waitstaff is volunteer and only makes tips, which would make the service forgivable. I've never really had a problem though, always get the same female who is super friendly, especially to my son.