It’s been 19 years since our last visit, but we spent some time in Washington, DC a few days ago–at the height of the cherry blossom season–and we had the chance to explore what is on offer for plant-based diners. Even with the Trump-triggered identity crisis, Washington, DC is still one of the most liberal towns and capital cities in the US, with its booming charitable and aid sector, activists and lobbyists aplenty, vibrant LGBTQ community, food trucks, yoga studios and farmers markets. We were pleased to see the foodie scene has evolved over the years proving that DC really is much more than monuments and politics.
The ‘District’ as it’s affectionately known, has many restaurants with delicious vegetarian or vegan options, as well as food from across the globe and 100% vegan eateries. If you’re a plant-based foodie destined for DC, here are our takeaways, 8 vegetarian friendly places to eat while you soak up all that DC has to offer.
This loud and incredibly cosy Filipino hot spot in Columbia Heights is a must visit. They don’t take reservations and a long wait was suspected and confirmed on our arrival. While you wait, you can enjoy drinks and chat to fellow customers at Room 11 next door. The menu at Bad Saint is short and full of ingredients we were not familiar with; however, it was easy to navigate as it features a separate vegetables section. And from this list, we are pleased to report that most dishes are vegan. We say between the tardivo salad with cara cara oranges and the dish of sauteed bitter melon with a side of rice, your stomach will be happy and full. And the wine list is to our liking, natural and funky.
A communal marketplace combining a cool sneaker shop, trendy bar and cafe. Visit on a Sunday for a special dim sum lunch and try all the vegetarian bao, and gyozas on offer. You can’t go wrong.
A gourmet market and urban village in an industrial part of town in between car parks. Sounds a bit Hackney, don’t you think? Union Market is the center of culinary creativity in this town with 40+ local vendors and we wished we could have spent more time here. But in our limited time, we opted for a breakfast at Buffalo & Bergen, ideal for a ‘green piece’ bagel and bloody spicy bloody mary.
Authentic, but your standard traditional fare. Specializing in Oaxacan cuisine, you will find traditional subtle, yet rich Oaxacan flavours and techniques applied to DC’s seasonal produce. Good tacos, trendy atmosphere and plenty of vegetarian options to choose from.
If you have been a vegetarian for a long time, you might have given up on finding a satisfying bowl of ramen without a meat-laced broth. In our experience, the thin broths of veggie ramen lacked much appeal, so we sat out the ramen frenzy. But, Daikaya changed our view. When it is done properly, sipping the broth and slurping the noodles becomes addictive. Just like in Japan, Daikaya is a fast paced place where you go in for a quick bowl with a draft beer, making it perfect for a short lunch break.
This apparently is a place to be and be seen. Refined Italian fare with notable guests is what defines Cafe Milano, more than the food itself which was average, but not great. Visit this sought after Georgetown haunt if you want to have a taste of where the diplomats and politicians hangout, but not if you’re after a standout Italian.
Inventive vegetable-based cooking paired with natural wine and craft beer in a chic setting. And it is 100% vegan. The haute cuisine approach to vegan cooking is still a bit of a global experiment, with hits and misses, but we look forward to keeping up these guys and their very inspirational food.
Elle is an all-day cafe/bakery that turns into a full-service restaurant and bar at night. We immediately spot the attention to local and seasonal produce, as well as featuring cultured and fermented ingredients in most of the dishes. The concept is explained to us as ‘New American’. It’s great to see our friends across the pond flying the flag for fermented foods. If you find yourself in Mt Pleasant (neighbourhood), stop for their kimchi toast.
As we remembered, this town was cool long before spin classes and it will stay great long after Trump. We’re definitely looking forward to our next trip.