If you’re a morning person and breakfast is your favorite meal of the day, you are likely on the constant hunt for places that serve great breakfasts.
However, finding such restaurants is often easier said than done for plant-eaters because most breakfast options are either egg-based or contain dairy.
Is First Watch any different? Let’s go over the restaurant’s menu and find out all about First Watch vegan options.
Does First Watch Have Vegan Food?
On its face, the First Watch menu doesn’t seem too appealing for a vegan as most items on it are the classic breakfast and brunch foods that do not happen to be entirely plant-based.
However, a closer look (with the usual investigative vegan approach) tells that some dishes meet the vegan dietary guidelines, while a few others can be customized. First Watch promises that everything is made-to-order on their premises, so customizing foods shouldn’t be a problem for them.
What’s Vegan at First Watch?
Vegan options at First Watch include:
- Avocado Toast – requires customization
- A.M. Superfoods Bowl
- Steel-Cut Oatmeal – custom order
- Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl – requires customization
- Power Breakfast Quinoa Bowl – requires customization
- Superfood Kale Salad – requires customization
- Chicken Avocado Chop Salad – requires customization
- Sweet Honey Pecan Salad – requires customization
- Market Veggie Sandwich – requires customization
- Veggie Burger – requires customization
- Market Vegetable Soup
- Grits – custom order
- Fresh, Seasonal Fruit
- Fresh, Seasoned Potatoes
- Whole Grain Artisan Toast with All-Natural House Preserves
- Lemon-Dressed Organic Mixed Greens
- Sauces and Dressings
Now that we know there are quite a few items on the First Watch menu that can be ordered vegan style, let’s dive a little deeper and discuss what customizations they require, so you have a clear idea of how to eat vegan at First Watch.
First Watch Vegan Options – A Detailed Breakdown
Here’s everything you need to know about ordering vegan at First Watch – The Daytime Café:
Crispy, creamy, rich, healthy, and filling avocado toast makes a great option to begin your day with. People make avocado toast in different ways.
Those at First Watch make it using a whole-grain toast that’s smothered with freshly smashed avocado and topped with sea salt, chive and parsley herb mix, lemon juice, and extra-virgin olive oil. The toast is served with two basted eggs on the side.
When eating vegan at First Watch, ask for avocado toast without eggs and butter.
Wondering where did this butter come from?
The First Watch allergen guide mentions margarine in the list of avocado toast ingredients. It seems that they apply margarine to bread before toasting it.
Bonus Tip: First Watch allows you to make substitutions in your avocado toast meal. So, you can have the eggs replaced with a vegan side option, which, for this particular dish, includes seasoned potatoes, lemon-dressed organic mixed greens, and seasonal fruit.
A.M. Superfoods Bowl
Do you love to begin your day with a healthy, nutritious mix of fruits and nuts? First Watch’s A.M. Superfoods Bowl delivers just that but in an exciting way to make your mornings brighter and healthier.
Moreover, it’s 100% vegan, so there’s no need for customization. No wonder it’s one of the most popular First Watch vegan breakfast options.
First Watch A.M. Superfoods Bowl is a bowl of chia seed pudding with a host of healthy, refreshing toppings. Chia seed pudding is made with coconut milk, and the toppings include housemade granola, almonds, fresh berries and banana, and sweet and tangy mixed berry compote.
The pudding comes with a whole-grain toast with almond butter and sea salt, making your morning meal even better.
Not a fan of chia pudding? Or in the mood for oats? First Watch has steel-cut oatmeal for you!
It is made standard with low-fat milk. However, according to the First Watch website, it is made to order, so you can ask them to make your oatmeal in water or in the plant-based milk that they use for chia seed pudding.
Oatmeal comes topped with fresh banana slices, berries, and pecans and is served with a muffin on the side. It will be difficult to resist a freshly-baked muffin, but you’ll have to leave that out because none of the muffins they make at First Watch are vegan-friendly.
You may, however, try and ask them to replace the muffin with a whole grain toast (without butter). They have this substitution option for oatmeal on the website, so you’ll likely get it on-site too.
For those who don’t have a sweet tooth or need a heavy dose of protein in the breakfast, First Watch offers quinoa bowls. They come in two different varieties, but none of them comes standard as vegan-friendly. They can, however, be customized for a vegan diet. Here’s how:
Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl
This protein-packed bowl comes standard with quinoa, kale, roasted tomatoes, carrots, chicken, basil pesto dressing, lemon white balsamic vinaigrette, fresh herbs, and feta crumbles.
However, the ingredients list on the allergen menu also shows chicken stock. This likely means that the quinoa is cooked in chicken stock.
But, since First Watch claims that it cooks all its food fresh when ordered, it shouldn’t be a problem to omit it from the dish.
When eating vegan at First Watch, ask them to cook the quinoa in water and hold the chicken, basil pesto dressing, and feta toppings.
Power Breakfast Quinoa Bowl
The second protein bowl variety contains quinoa, kale, Italian sausage, roasted crimini mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, lemon white balsamic vinaigrette, parmesan, and extra-virgin olive oil. It comes topped with two basted eggs.
The problematic ingredients that appear on the allergen menu in this dish include chicken stock and margarine, apart from the obvious ones, i.e., sausage, eggs, and parmesan.
While chicken stock is likely used for cooking quinoa, it’s unclear what margarine is used for (to roast mushrooms, perhaps).
Anyways, just ask them to omit these five ingredients from your breakfast quinoa bowl to make it fit for a vegan diet.
Vegan Salads at First Watch
First Watch offers four different types of salads. None of them are suitable for vegans. But, you can have all of them customized for a plant-based diet. Not all are worth the effort, though. Despite that, I am giving instructions to vegan-ize them all so that you know all your choices.
Here’s how to order a vegan salad at First Watch:
Superfood Kale Salad
This nutritious and delicious salad features kale, organic salad greens, maple-roasted carrots made in-house every day, dried cranberries, almonds, chicken, and parmesan. It comes with maple-lemon vinaigrette and ciabatta toast.
Ciabatta is vegan-friendly, but the restaurant’s allergen menu highlights that the salad contains whipped butter and chicken stock, which obviously you can’t have on a vegan diet. Therefore, when ordering this salad, make sure to ask your server to hold these two ingredients.
Chicken Avocado Chop Salad
Whether you like avocado and/or beans or craving Mexican flavors, this First Watch salad is a must-try.
Made with fresh, ripe, creamy avocadoes, black beans, corn, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, arugula, tortilla strips, feta, fresh herb mix, and a citrus chipotle dressing, this salad is absolutely delicious.
However, when ordering vegan, make sure to skip on feta cheese. All other salad ingredients are vegan-friendly.
First Watch’s Chicken Avocado Salad is also served with Ciabatta bread, which on its own is vegan but is apparently toasted with butter. Make sure to confirm it with your server and ask to hold the butter.
Sweet Honey Pecan Salad
Getting this First Watch salad made vegan requires a little more effort, so I don’t recommend that you do it when other more easily customizable options are available. However, it’s good to know your options.
To make First Watch’s Sweet Honey Pecan Salad vegan, you’ll have to skip on chicken, bacon, cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheese mix, and honey Dijon dressing. What you’ll be left with is a mix of organic salad greens, romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, and pecans.
Moreover, skip the whipped butter that apparently comes with the salad and Ciabatta bread.
Since the dressing that comes with this salad is non-vegan, you may try requesting them to have it swapped with a vegan-friendly alternative (listed below) or order one separately.
I would never recommend a vegan to order a Cobb salad at First Watch, even if there is no other salad option available, because the alterations will leave you with a bland mix of mixed greens, avocado, and tomatoes.
Ingredients that need to be omitted from this salad to be vegan-friendly include bacon, turkey, boiled eggs, bleu cheese crumbles, and ranch dressing.
Market Veggie Sandwich
This is the only meatless sandwich option at First Watch. Not an exciting choice, but something you may choose to get to fill yourself up on a brunch or quick, healthier lunch.
At First Watch, all the sandwiches are served with a side of your choice from a bowl of soup or lightly-dressed organic mixed greens.
First Watch Market Veggie Sandwich is made with vegan-friendly whole-grain toast. However, it contains quite a few non-vegan ingredients. These include whipped butter, mayonnaise, mozzarella cheese, and basil pesto.
Hold these ingredients to get a vegan sandwich at First Watch. You will get a mix of crimini mushrooms, spinach, and zucchini inside two whole-grain artisan bread slices.
You may order a vegan sauce (listed below) on the side for some more flavor and to save yourself from the torture of gulping down a dry sandwich.
First Watch Veggie Burger may seem like a perfect choice for plant-eaters, but it also requires a few customizations to be made vegan-friendly.
The burger comes with a veggie patty, which doesn’t contain any non-vegan ingredients, but the bun it is made with has milk and eggs. Therefore, when ordering vegan at First Watch, you need to skip the brioche bun along with whipped butter and dijonnaise.
First Watch doesn’t offer any vegan-friendly bun option. So, you will have to replace the brioche bun with whole-grain bread or sourdough bread. In case you’re wondering, the veggie patty is made with brown rice, onions, mushrooms, carrots, and peppadew peppers.
Other ingredients of your vegan veggie burger at Frist Watch include organic mixed greens, onions, tomatoes, and avocado. Don’t forget to get yourself a vegan-friendly sauce on the side.
Market Vegetable Soup
Made with zucchini, carrots, and celery, this First Watch veggie soup doesn’t seem to contain any non-vegan ingredients (the allergen menu doesn’t highlight any), making it suitable for plant-eaters. However, I recommend confirming its vegan status with your server while ordering.
First Watch Vegan Sides
Appearing under the category of Sides and Small Plates, the following items can be ordered with your main dish to put together a complete vegan meal at First Watch:
- Buttered Grits – request without butter
- Fresh, Seasonal Fruit
- Fresh, Seasoned Potatoes
- Whole Grain Artisan Toast with All-Natural House Preserves
- Lemon-Dressed Organic Mixed Greens
First Watch Vegan Sauces, Dressings, and Condiments
Elevate the flavor profile of your First Watch vegan salads and meals with these plant-based dressings, sauces, and condiments:
- Maple-Lemon Vinaigrette
- Citrus Chipotle Dressing
- Lemon White Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pico De Gallo
- Strawberry Preserve
- Mixed Berry Compote
- Powdered Cinnamon Sugar
First Watch Vegan Beverages
First Watch does not have an extensive drinks menu, so naturally, your vegan options are also limited. However, there are enough choices for people with different palates and preferences. These include alcoholic, non-alcoholic, and caffeinated drinks.
Here are all your vegan drinks options at First Watch:
- Project Sunrise Coffee – Regular
- Project Sunrise Coffee – Decaf
- Cold Brew Coffee
- Fresh-Brewed Iced Tea – Sweetened
- Fresh-Brewed Iced Tea – Unsweetened
- Fresh-Brewed Iced Tea – Seasonal Blackberry
- Herbal Tea
- Coca-Cola Soft Drinks
- Apple Juice
- 100% Cold Squeezed Orange Juice
- Grapefruit Juice
- Cranberry Juice
- Morning Meditation Juice
- Kale Tonic
- Add Immunity Boost Juice
- San Pellegrino Sparkling Water
Vegan Signature Cocktails at First Watch
- Cinnamon Toast Cereal Milk – made with coconut milk
- Morning Glory
- Vodka Kale Tonic
- Pomegranate Sunrise
- Bourbon Blackberry Palmer
First Watch Menu Items That May Look Vegan, But Are Not
Like most other restaurants, a few items on the First Watch menu may appear vegan-friendly, but they actually contain eggs and/or dairy. Hence, they are not suitable for those following a vegan diet. These include:
- Gluten-Free Toast – The bread contains eggs
- Brioche Bun – Contains milk and eggs
- Vera Cruz Sauce – Contains milk
- Basil Pesto Dressing – Contains eggs and milk
- Basil Pesto Sauce – Contains milk
- Horseradish Sauce – Contains egg
- Dijonnaise – Contains egg
First Watch Vegan Options FAQs
Still, have some questions about vegan choices at First Watch? Keep reading as I answer some commonly asked questions about First Watch vegan food.
▪ Are First Watch pancakes vegan?
No. First Watch pancakes are not vegan. Their batter contains both milk and eggs.
▪ Is the veggie burger at First Watch vegan?
First Watch Veggie Burger doesn’t come standard as vegan-friendly. However, it can be made vegan.
Read the article for a detailed discussion on what makes it non-vegan and how you can customize it for a vegan diet.
▪ Is First Watch Tomato Basil Soup vegan?
First Watch Tomato Basil Soup is not vegan. According to the restaurant’s allergen guide, it contains milk.
▪ Is First Watch bread vegan?
First Watch whole-grain bread is vegan, and so is the sourdough bread. However, the gluten-free bread they offer is not suitable for vegans as the restaurant’s allergen guide highlights that it contains eggs.
Similarly, the brioche bun used for burgers is also not vegan. It contains both milk and eggs.
Conclusion – Is First Watch Vegan-Friendly?
Although First Watch doesn’t have an exclusively vegan menu, it is a pretty vegan-friendly restaurant chain.
Not only does the restaurant makes fresh food as and when ordered, but they are also known to be considerate of people’s varying dietary needs. Both these factors work in our favor and make it easier for us vegans to get our food customized according to our dietary limitations.
The restaurant doesn’t guarantee the absence of cross-contamination. It does, however, say that the people working in their kitchen try their best to exercise caution when preparing food for people with specific needs or allergies.
They ask customers to communicate their needs to the server before ordering.
If this arrangement works for you, First Watch is indeed a good place for vegan breakfast and brunch.
Did you find this article helpful? Interested to learn about your options at other breakfast and brunch places as well?
Check out my article IHOP Vegan Options to find out what this multinational restaurant chain known for breakfast foods has in store for vegan customers.