Washington Isn’t Veg-Friendly
Vegan Eats in the Nation’s Capital
Restaurant Guide by Erica Meier
When most people think of
Washington, DC they think politics—past
and present. Visitors marvel at the Washington monument, stand at
the gates of the White House and stroll around the National Mall.
hardly turn a corner without stumbling upon a famous landmark or
historic federal building.
The nation’s capital is indeed rich with politics and history, but it’s
also brimming with some of the hottest and tastiest spots for vegan eats. So
put down your camera and pick up a fork: the DC-metro area is home to hundreds
of restaurants catering to the demand for delicious and innovative, cruelty-free
fare. After a long day of sightseeing, hop on the Metro or take a short drive
outside the city and discover some amazingly memorable vegan-friendly destinations!
Whether you’re craving breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, we’ve
highlighted a few of the best, all-vegetarian eateries in the area.
Nestled in the center of DC’s bustling business district sits Java Green,
an independently owned café that doubles as a haven for DC vegans. Using
local and organic produce whenever possible, the nearly all-vegan Korean-inspired
menu includes savory mock meat dishes such as “Chicken” Jab Che and
Seoul “Chicken” Salad. Wash it all down with one of their specialty
drinks that you won’t find anywhere else in town—try a soy XO green
tea frappe or the soy strawberry milk shake! As an added bonus, on the third
Saturday of each month, Java Green donates 15 percent of all sales to Compassion
Over Killing! Saturday also happens to be the day they offer their amazing vegan
brunch. 1020 19 Street NW (at K Street), (202) 775-8899, www.javagreen.net.
Also located in downtown DC, Nirvana is an enchanting, family-run restaurant
with a delectable all-vegetarian menu. Upon first glance, one might write it
off as just another place to get samosas and curry dishes, but Nirvana is unique
for their lunch buffet. With no routine lineup, options change daily to reflect
different regions of India. Affordably priced, it’s no surprise that lunchtime
at Nirvana can sometimes get chaotic, but, as evidenced by the swelling crowds,
it’s well worth it. 1810 K Street NW (between 18 and 19 Streets), (202)
Pedro and Vinny’s
Formerly known as “Honest to Goodness Burritos,” Pedro and Vinny’s
lunch cart may not look like much at first, but the long line that wraps around
the corner during lunch time tells another story. At this all-vegetarian burrito
stand, only open on weekdays during lunch hours, you can grab a quick and hearty
meal for around $6. Steamed tortillas come in five different types, but the real
variety is in the hot sauce—you can top off your burrito with up to 30
different kinds, some of which are even homemade. 1500 K Street NW (south corner
at 15 Street), www.pedroandvinnys.com.
Soul Vegetarian, located in a cozy converted row-house near Howard University,
is often touted as DC’s oldest vegan restaurant. One forkful of their famous
mac ‘n’ “cheese” and you’ll know why everyone sings
the praises of this local institution. Other popular dishes include the BBQ twists,
steak and cheese sandwich and lasagna. Another crowd pleaser is their Sunday
brunch menu—all-vegan and all-delicious. 2606 Georgia Avenue NW (near Euclid
Street), (202) 328-7685, www.soulvegetarian.com.
Sticky Fingers Bakery
Be prepared to indulge at this award-winning, all-vegan bakery, conveniently
located in the heart of Adams Morgan. First famed for its “deliriously
delicious” Cowvin Cookies, Little Devils and Sticky Buns, Sticky Fingers’ irresistible
allure also includes decadent scones, cakes, muffins, brownies, Boston crème
pies and vegan soft serve ice cream! Call it an addiction, but vegans and non-vegans
alike flock to this trendy bakery. It’s simply the best place in town to
satisfy every sweet tooth. Did I mention the Sticky Buns? 1904 18 Street NW (between
T and Florida), (202) 299-9700, www.stickyfingersbakery.com.
Despite being the youngest member of DC’s vegetarian restaurant scene,
Vegetate is quickly making a name for itself as a stylish vegan destination.
The simple yet elegant décor matches their healthy and natural food philosophy.
With an emphasis on local ingredients and artful presentation, the nearly all-vegan
menu rotates frequently; you’ll always find fresh and unique dishes, many
with an international flare. Most items are made from scratch, including the
mock “bacon” served during their Sunday-only brunch. 1414 9 Street
NW (between O and P Streets), (202) 232-4585, www.vegetatedc.com.
Located on Clarksville’s Conscious Corner, Great Sage is an award-winning
gourmet vegetarian restaurant with a sumptuous menu that’ll please even
the most die-hard carnivore. With a strong emphasis on vegan fare, not-to-be-missed
dishes include the vegan Caesar salad, a meatless meatloaf served with mashed
potatoes smothered in gravy, and spicy jerk seitan. Make sure to save room for
the hot fudge lava cake a lá mode—this alone is worth the 30-minute
drive from DC! Nearly everything is made from organic ingredients, including
the wine and beer. 5809 Clarksville Square Drive, Clarksville, MD, (443) 535-9400,
Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant
Local favorite Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant serves mouth-watering Japanese-Chinese
fusion cuisine made primarily with organic ingredients. Those who haven’t
yet dined at this bright and cheerfully decorated restaurant—complete with
smiling sunflowers from wall to wall—are missing out on some of the most
flavorful mock meat dishes in town. The “fried chicken” appetizer
is a must, while popular dinner items include As-You-Wish Garden (pan-fried noodles,
mushrooms and mock meat) and Sunflower Satisfaction (sautéed vegetables,
mock meat and chick peas in a mildly hot, sweet orange sauce). 2531 Chain Bridge
Road (Rte. 123), Vienna, VA, (703) 319-3888, www.crystalsunflower.com.
The Vegetable Garden
One of the best-known vegan eateries in the area, the Vegetable Garden has been
wowing its many loyal patrons—even devout meat-eaters—for more than
a decade with heart-healthy, savory mock meat dishes like pecan beef, veggie
duck hot pot and General Tso’s chicken. The dinner portions are satisfying,
but if you’re really hungry, take the opportunity to try the crispy black
mushrooms or brown rice California roll appetizers. Dozens of animal advocates
gather here on the first Thursday of every month to support Compassion Over Killing—for
over two years the Vegetable Garden has been hosting these monthly funding events,
during which ten percent of all sales are automatically donated to COK! 11618
Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD, (301) 468-9301, www.thevegetablegarden.com.
Yuan Fu Vegetarian
If a meatless retreat is what you desire, then make sure Yuan Fu Vegetarian is
on your list. This all-vegan Chinese eatery serves up flavor-filled dishes such
as pineapple “chicken,” “Peking duck,” shredded “pork” and
even “tuna steak.” And with so many savory appetizers to choose from,
it’s tempting to simply order a few and make that your meal. Plan to come
back a few times to really get a taste for everything on the menu. 798 Rockville
Pike, Rockville, MD, (301) 762-5937.
Erica Meier is the Executive Director of Compassion Over Killing, a DC-based
animal advocacy group. For a complete listing of veg and veg-friendly eateries
throughout the DC area, visit VegDC.com.
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