How To Eat Through Washington D.C. In A Weekend
When my best friend from L.A. called me up about her flying to Washington D.C. for a work event, I jumped at the chance to see her and hang out even if it was just a quick weekend. Dusty has never been there before and the only time I've been there was with family for a school trip. I haven't been to D.C. as a vegan so it felt a little like being in a new city. We stayed in the northwest neighborhood of Park View, and we were pretty lucky because it was actually pretty central to most of the restaurants that we wanted to check out as well as the sights and places that we wanted to see. (If you're a vegan and are planning a trip here, we recommend looking at places in this neighborhood. We stayed at a very colorful AirBnB and we could not recommend this place any higher.) Even though D.C. is not the most exciting city in the world, we definitely had fun visiting and trying out every restaurant that we could for the short time we were there. See the list below for the restaurants that we tried in D.C.!
"Casual neighborhood eatery serving American/soul food classics."
Situated in the suburban neighborhood of Park View, you can tell just by the feel of this place and the customers that they attract, that this place is a go-to in the neighborhood. Serving everything from breakfast, brunch, dinner and desserts, NuVegan Café is an easy spot that people all over D.C. go to for food, whether they actually know (or care) if it's vegan or not doesn't seem to matter. In fact, when we went there, around early afternoon on a Friday, this place was pretty packed. We both got to try the Fried Chick'n sandwich, which, according to Dusty, was the best Fried Chick'n sandwich he's ever had. Personally, I probably would have said the same if the bun held up better. We also got a side of mac and cheese, which we didn't actually finish, just because of the large portions that they give. (I ended up eating it later that night and somehow, it tasted better.) While we think they can better utilize the space that they are in and possibly lighten up the decor, the bottom line is this: NuVegan delivers modestly-priced delicious food that satisfies their customers and keeps them coming back for more, and in a city where vegan options are not as prevalent, this place is a win-win for us.
"Friday night affair in a historic venue"
Every Friday night, a gorgeous townhouse is transformed into an elegant dining space courtesy of Elizabeth Petty, a well-known figure in the food and hospitality community in DC. Elizabeth's Gone Raw was born out of Petty's discovery of the powerful healing benefits of a raw vegan diet after she got diagnosed with breast cancer. The restaurant offers a set six course raw foods tasting menu, all of which are based according to seasonality and availability of ingredients, and usually changes every month. I do think I need to preface this review with the fact that we're not the fanciest of diners at all (we're usually a burrito and mac and cheese kind of diners). But we can certainly appreciate the artistry that goes on in making each of the beautiful dishes. However, looking back at the dining experience, there wasn't one single dish that we particularly remember or even thought of as, "Wow, I would go back to that restaurant for that dish." To be completely honest, we ordered an amazing falafel sandwich from Amsterdam Falafel later that night because we were still hungry after our meal. While we do appreciate clean eating and support establishments that champion raw vegan cuisine, at the end of the day, Elizabeth and her raw vegan creations, while beautiful to look at, left us unfulfilled and craving something heartier.
"Award winning bakery and café"
Besides having a cool name for a bakery, Sticky Fingers actually has great pastry and sweets selections. The bakery is known for their daily freshly made sweets, particularly the Little Devil and the Sticky Bun, which we got to try, along with the Classic Vanilla cupcake and the Chocolate Chip cookie. We felt the need to load up on their sweets, which were all delicious, in hopes that it would be better than their brunch selections, which unfortunately, was lackluster. Dusty got the Buffalo Seitan Wrap, which came out bigger than expected, and the seitan had a very seasoned taste, almost to the point of being too seasoned, and was more on the oily side than what he would have liked. I ordered the Breakfast Burrito, which came with a side of roasted potatoes. I also ordered an extra side of breakfast sausage since I usually like a big breakfast. Maybe we're just too picky but when it comes to breakfast burritos and seitan, we're very hard to please, and sadly, Sticky Fingers' version did not hold up to our expectations. The breakfast sausage, in particular, was very rubbery, while the tofu scramble in the breakfast burrito was nothing special. While we can easily recommend the sweets inside the store's glass case, you're probably better off going somewhere else if you want a vegan breakfast done right.
"Fast casual vegan food for Washingtonians on the go"
Just like our experience in Philadelphia, HipCityVeg is just as good in DC as it was in Philly. After a long day of walking in the heat and sightseeing the national monuments, HipCityVeg was the perfect respite we needed and were looking for. (FYI: Those smiles are real.) This easy, no-frills establishment is a gem in the city and gave us much needed fuel in the DC heat. Their Crisp HipCity Ranch sandwich with battered chick'n, lettuce, tomato, onion and the oh-so-delicious peppercorn ranch is what we live for. Their creative takes on lemonade (the only time Dusty will drink kale juice) and their milkshakes made with organic soy ice cream are the perfect antidotes to beating the heat in the nation's capital. Every time we go to this place, we know we'll be in for a treat. Now, if only they'll finally open a location in New York city...
"Casual sit-down restaurant serving soul food with a full bar"
When we heard that there was a vegan place in DC that Stevie Wonder likes to frequent, we immediately needed to check this place out. Evolve is a restaurant somewhat inconspicuously located in Takoma Park, about 20 minutes by car northeast of Park View. We took the trek to this neighborhood and were ready for a big meal. However, when we arrived at the restaurant, it seemed somewhat dreary and the place seems to be begging to be decorated. The bar, however, seems like a completely different place altogether and was definitely more lively than the dining counter/seating area. It also helped that the bartender, unlike the cashier that helped us, was super enthusiastic about having us and made us feel right at home. On the other hand, the food, which was served cafeteria-style, did not quite live up to our expectations. It seems that we arrived at the restaurant a little too late (despite being there at around 7:30 pm) as all the dinner food was already pretty much gone and the kitchen seems to be closed for the rest of the night. While we managed to scrounge up their famous mac and cheese and fried chick-un patties (which was a little on the dry side), the highlight of our evening was the margaritas that the friendly bartender whipped up for us. While we really wanted to like this place, it just goes to show that even Stevie Wonder can have his off days.
"Non-vegan restaurant serving an all-vegan Sunday brunch buffet"
Equinox, not to be confused with the fitness company, is an award-winning restaurant from power couple Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Gray, who was responsible for pushing her husband/business partner into doing their now-famous Sunday vegan brunch. It seems that this was the place to be on a Sunday morning since the place was pretty packed with all kinds of people from all over, and they all seem to come for the vegan brunch. While we can't say that it's the best brunch that we've ever had, we definitely liked the options that they were serving, particularly the Crispy Cauliflower Tempura and the Rigatoni Pasta en Pomodoro, which aren't your typical brunch fare. The space is also very open and I'm always a sucker for al fresco dining which, in my opinion, always makes for a pleasant meal. With a friendly staff and a new take on a classic Sunday brunch, we can only hope that this restaurant takes note of their success on Sundays and turn their menu vegan for every day of the week.
Have you tried any of the places that we mentioned? Did you have a similar or a completely different experience in any of the places above? Let us know in the comments section below!