This is a long-overdue post sharing the excellent vegan food I had during two back-to-back trips to Washington, D.C. in June. The first trip was my very first experience in D.C., for leisure (chasing a concert) and finally getting a peek at the Declaration of Independence. The second trip was professional and I didn’t have as much free time but still managed to get some tasty local eats in! This post flows from breakfast through dinner.
We searched for a highly-rated local coffee spot within walking distance of our hotel and The Wydown was what we discovered—and stuck to for most of our trip. The espresso was delightful and the soymilk they used is my preferred soy milk of choice for lattes, so that was another bonus. They even had a vegan breakfast item—this hearty peanut butter & jelly muffin. The name didn’t sound very appetizing to me, but it was delicious and provided a nice amount of fuel before a day of walking several miles. The only downside was that it was very busy and there weren’t many places to sit if you wanted to hang out inside.
This place was a little slice of vegan heaven. An entire case full of vegan treats plus a menu of savory breakfast and lunch items and even a cooler of grab-and-go goodies. The latte was so-so, but I didn’t go there for the coffee. We shared a couple donuts throughout our trip and also this piping hot (warning!) breakfast burrito. I wish I could try everything from Sticky Fingers. I follow them on social media and their posts cause some major droolage.
Le Pain Quotidien
We were pleasantly surprised with the vegan options at this chain in Georgetown. The atmosphere was lovely and we sat outside on the back patio to enjoy a relaxing Georgetown morning before heading home. I love that you can order a side of “avocado mash” with bread—holy yum! I had the six-vegetable tart—a savory layered breakfast dish bursting with delicious flavor. It was gluten-free and vegan with a buckwheat crust. It came with a salad on the side—greens at breakfast are delightful!
I wish we had these in Chicago! A fast-casual customizable salad place was the perfect lunch spot with colleagues in between meetings on the hill. I had the “spicy sabzi” signature salad that included spinach + kale, spicy quinoa, broccoli, beets, carrots, sprouts, basil, roasted tofu, Sriracha and a carrot chili vinaigrette—just the kind of salad I love! Vegan items are labeled with a green “V” on the menu, salads come with a slice of hearty buckwheat bread, and they have housemade drinks such as blueberry + basil fresca. Win win win.
Ethiopian is one of my favorite cuisines and I make a point to try it in every major city I spend time in. As usual at Ethiopian spots, I ate way too much too fast—because it was so delicious! I had all of my favorite Ethiopian dishes at once: kik alicha (yellow split peas), misir wat (red lentils), tikil gomen (cabbage), gomen (collards), potato and carrot alicha and salad. It wasn’t my favorite Ethiopian food of all time but it was one of the better ones!
Disclaimer: I ate here a lot between my two trips to D.C. Twice during my pleasure trip and once during my business trip. Both my boyfriend and dietitian colleagues loved it! The menu has something for everyone—brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert, coffee, vegetarian, vegan and gluten free items are all clearly labeled. Ingredients are fresh and tasty and the offerings range from comfort food to health food to ethnic food. I could eat here so many more times and never be bored—another place I want to eat at again and again!
Our first visit was for lunch—we had crispy coconut tofu bites for an appetizer, tempeh panini and vegan cobb salad for our meals, and the vegan brownie and ice cream for dessert. Everything was delicious—the cobb salad was pleasantly light and they know how to cook tempeh just right. The brownie was warm and rich without being overly sweet, coupled perfectly with cool vanilla ice cream.
The second visit was in the evening after a concert and we were starving. We shared the vegan pepperoni calzone—it was so delicious and tasted spot on (note: this was not trying to be a health food). I loved the ratio of cheese to meat to veggies, it was packed with everything you want!
My third visit was with a group of colleagues and I tried the veggie burger (not pictured), which was pleasantly hearty without being too “meaty”—the arugula and veggie toppings added nice flavor and freshness. We also shared hummus for an appetizer which didn’t last more than a few seconds in front of a pack of ravenous dietitians. Someone ordered the vegan chocolate chip cookie to share for dessert which was phenomenal as well.
Thai is always a great standby, and we weren’t disappointed by the offerings in D.C. This Thai restaurant has a “Green Corner” menu that is loaded with veggie options from appetizers through dessert. It’s not usually too difficult to spot vegan-friendly items on Thai menus (always ask about fish sauce and egg) but it’s nice to have a dedicated selection. We shared the garden herb rolls (fresh spring rolls) with peanut-chili dipping sauce for an appetizer and I had the drunken noodles for my entrée, which is another name for my beloved Pad Kee Mao, a spicy dish loaded with veggies, basil and tofu served over wide rice noodles. The tofu in my entree was a little strange (fluffy and oily) but the flavor and veggies were perfect.
While I was a little disappointed by the lack of vegan options here, this place was quite lovely. The cocktails were on point and the food was tasty. The atmosphere was great and we managed to get out of a two-hour wait by sneaking into some seats at the bar. The server was pretty knowledgeable when I told her I was vegan. We shared the pickled seasonal vegetables as a starter and I ordered the rice & bean burger with smoked tofu (which I promptly shoved into my mouth as pictured) and a side salad for my meal. My burger accidentally arrived with fries cooked in animal fat and the server immediately whisked them away—she was actually more upset about it than I was. They do have sorbet as a vegan option for dessert but I passed on the sweets that night.
D.C. is so vegan-friendly! A coworker suggested we hit up this pizza joint that is owned by another coworker’s family—I obliged and assumed I’d be getting lame veggies and sauce on a tasteless crust that I’d have to shower with entirely too much salt and pepper. To my delight, they not only clearly label vegan options on the menu, they have vegan mozzarella and even a few plant-based protein options! Unfortunately they were out of the vegan beef crumbles but I was very happy with the vegan pizza I crafted—super yummer!
Another impromptu restaurant selection while with colleagues, I was really lacking optimism with this tavern in a trendy neighborhood. When it was my turn to order, I found out the veggie burger, the one vegetarian option on the menu, was not vegan. No worries, because the chef made me an amazing salad topped with tofu (there wasn’t tofu anywhere on the menu, magic!) and a side of grilled broccolini! It was super tasty and all the dietitians around the table were ogling my meal. They were also able to make the Brussels sprouts appetizer vegan sans Parmesan.
These were my first and only trips to D.C. and I know I only scratched the surface of all of the wonderful vegan options the city has to offer. Please share your favorite vegan-friendly D.C. cafes + restaurants in the comments!