Upscale, in between and casual vegan and vegetarian food options in the District.
The national campaign to eat vegetables for a week ended last month and we’re back to old habits. Burgers beckon as a safe hearty menu option and, even when we try our hand at being healthy, a salad just sounds better with a piece of grilled chicken overtop. It all seems to stem from a two-pronged fear we may not even be fully conscious of, 1. A dish without meat may leave me hungrier than when I started and; 2. Food just tastes better when meat is involved.
Both concerns may have had some merit years ago, when a restaurant’s vegetarian option consisted of whatever spare veggies were lying around the kitchen, thrown together with no rhythm. But that is not the case anymore as more heavy-hitting restaurateurs are incorporating plant-based dishes into their repertoire. By pushing boundaries with inventive preparations and exotic produce it is only a matter of time before meat lovers become veggie believers. So the next time you get a hankering for nature’s rockstar bounty, reference our upscale, in between and casual vegan and vegetarian picks.
Keep an eye out: Washington Post recently broke the news that the owners of Philadelphia’s beloved Vedge are opening an outpost on H Street this summer featuring vegan street food.
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw
Friday nights take on new value as it’s the only night of the week you can try Elizabeth Petty‘s seven course raw vegan tasting menu masterpiece, where nothing is cooked above 115 degrees. Chef Francisco Hernandez puts together creative, highly-involved dishes that only live on the evolving menu for a month. The popularity of the kale chips have made them an exception; every diner gets to try the crunchy and straight up addicting snack. Sample menu HERE.
1341 L St NW;202.347.8349 ($75)
In this year’s RAMMY nominations for best new restaurants you will find Kobo, a small “more focused and intimate” operation than the larger sushi restaurant where it is housed (Sushiko in Chevy Chase). Sibling duo Handry Tjan and Piter Tjan serve a 12 course vegan omakase on Mondays and Tuesdays (non-vegan available Wednesday-Saturday) where diners seated at a small counter get the full kappo experience as they watch chefs meticulously compose bites that are almost too beautiful to eat. A sample spring menu can be found HERE.
5455 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815; 301.961.1644 ($130)
The Farragut North mainstay has had a steady following for years and with Chef Todd Gray and his wife Ellen Kassoff at the helm, it is no wonder why. They have converted half of Equinox’s menu to be plant-based, gently coaxing diners out of their comfort zone. The menu changes seasonally, but if you’re lucky cauliflower tempura and mushroom bolognese will be involved. Other plant-based options HERE.
818 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202.331.8118 ($14 – $31)
Busboys & Poets
Why shouldn’t vegans enjoy bar food like pizza, sliders and nachos? Busboys’ founder Andy Shallal couldn’t think of a good reason, explaining “We want people to feel welcome no matter what their dietary needs are.” Ground beef in Busboys’ sliders is replaced with eco-cuisine plant-based protein, lentils, red peppers, yellow onion and soybean oil for a delicious meatless alternative. Don’t miss coconut tofu bites or the rest of the extensive vegan menu selection, which can be found HERE.
Various locations; ($7 – $16)
Fare Well Diner
Owner of popular vegan bakery Sticky Fingers Doron Petersan opened Fare Well to make diner favorites accessible to vegans across Washington for breakfast (served all day in true diner form), lunch and dinner. The 46-seat space also boasts a bakery and bar so you can enjoy a Salted Care-Mule (Tito’s vodka, caramel simple syrup, ginger beer and apple cider) with your southern fried seitan platter. All ingredients are made in-house including cheeses like the creamy cashew and almond burrata. Fan favorites include the buffalo cauliflower dip and mushroom and chickpea veggie burger (37 ingredients strong). Menu HERE.
406 H St., NE; 202.367.9600 ($8- $16)
Because everybody loves tacos! Chaia has become a pioneer in the “farm-to-taco” movement with a short list of plant-based taco variations on its menu. Seasonal combinations like creamy kale and potato (pepper jack, poblano crema, green sauce and pickled onions) and roasted beet (ricotta salata, cilantro-lime yogurt and fresh jalapeño) are piled high onto homemade corn tortillas. Don’t skip out on the sides – black beans with jalapeño crema and herb pesto and feta rice– for a wholly satisfying dining experience. Menu HERE.
3207 Grace St. NW, 202.333.5222 ($3.75 each)
The trusted name of restaurateur of José Andrés is behind this fast casual joint where vegetables are “deliciously matched with hearty grains, freshly-made sauces, crisp greens, and flavorful toppings.” Choose from pre-selected bowl combinations like Curried Treasure (Rice, Broccoli, Sugar Snap Peas, Carrots, Green Curry Sauce, Crispy Peas and Pea shoots) or make your own. Salads and the namesake Beefsteak Tomato Burger are also available. Menu HERE.
1528 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202.986.7597 ($4.99 – $8.79)
This 100% plant-based fast casual pita joint will satisfy all your Middle-Eastern food cravings. A simple and straightforward Israeli-inspired menu (HERE) offers a range of ingredients to spice up pita that founder Ran Nussbächer has specially delivered from New York. Popular combos include chickpea with preserved lemon, olive, seaweed, potato, tomato, cucumber and tahina and cauliflower with tomato, scallion, tahina and parsley. Don’t ignore the hummus, because ‘when in Rome.’
655 K St. NW; 202.652.1464 ($10-$14)