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Yesterday marked the beginning of another DC Meat Week (check out our preview for that HERE, btw-ed). This means that leafy greens won’t get their chance to shine (pesticide free, of course) until next week, but we’re here to prepare you for that. Whether you’re a long time herbivore, a novice in the green eating world, or just trying to adhere to your healthy eating New Year’s resolution, we’ve got you covered. We’ve done vegetarian guides in the past, but nothing as diverse or comprehensive as this. Below you’ll find recommendations from our own staff, picks from your favorite district food writers, and DC’s own chef selections from their own restaurants and elsewhere.


Picks from the BYT staff

Drunken Noodle with Tofu (vegan): Very few places in DC have food that is spicy enough and tasty at the same time. Beau Thai offers a a filling vegan dish that has flavor for days. –Jessica Garson

Vegetarian Combo (vegan): Located off the beaten path in Arlington, the vegetarian combo is simply the best Ethiopian food I’ve ever had. –Jessica Garson

Gaeng Juet Pak: Any dining establishment that provides a full-fledged vegetarian menu and not just a smattering of sides gets a gold star in my book. I was a vegetarian for eight years before returning to the world of carnivorous dining, but I still enjoy eating lighter and fresher. Often times in DC, that means sticking to vegetarian menus. But winter in DC means biting wind and startling lows, requiring something heartier to warm you up. Enter Doi Moi’s Gaeng Juet Pak: a soup of autumn vegetables, black fungus and tofu. This vegan soup is savory, filling and much more creative than the vegetarian/vegan alternatives to traditional noodle soups you’ll find elsewhere. –Farrah

I’m not a vegetarian, but I did successfully go vegan for the month of July 2013, a time wherein I learned a great deal about Washington, DC’s plethora of vegetarian options. With the acceptance of plant-based diets as a respectable norm now rapidly ascending to a place of being a next-level notion of cool to adopt, the Nation’s Capital has done well in developing tasty vegetarian delights. However, after one meal at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw in NW DC’s Golden Triangle area, it isn’t so much any of the dishes that were a standout (they are, they’re vegan AND raw, (so there’s an added element of “how did they get THAT to taste like THIS”), but the entire experience was so out-of-left-field and intriguing that it made it entirely worthwhile.

And yes, “worth” is the key phrase with Elizabeth’s, as given that the space is only open on Fridays for dinner (with occasional small plate happy hours), with a menu that changes on a weekly basis, featuring truly unique menu items (for example, this week’s appetizer is a “Conch’ Ceviche” consisting of lemon, cilantro, lime, peppers, royal trumpet mushroom and dulse)., the price of dinner can be in the range of being well over $100 per person. However, between the bells and whistles of the unique menu and dining experience along with the once-in-a-lifetime introduction to the absurdly healthy benefits of raw dining, it was absolutely worth it. If you’re into food, into health, have some dollars tucked away, and you want to not just eat a meal – but possibly find the gateway to something you’ve considered (and are REEEAAALLLY close to pulling the trigger on) – it’s worth the cost. –Marcus Dowling
Doi Moi Restaurant DC Review Photos Brightest Young Things Stephanie Breijo8

Braised Cauliflower – Cauliflower should really be having a little bit more of a moment right now. Mike Isabella (who learned a thing or two about delicious vegetarian cooking while at Zaytinya) braises it, adds chickpeas for a well balanced heartiness and spices things up with fenugreek. Like all best vegetarian plates-if they really work, there is no need to over-complicate things. –Svetlana

Lentil Barley Burger: I know this isn’t a beer guide but they also have pretty solid food. Their entrees rotate quite a bit as they are mostly pretty seasonally-based. My go-to here is their lentil barley burger. It’s tasty and you must get them with the sweet potato wedges AND a beer. –Sepie Moinipanah

ALL the veggie burger options at Meridian Pint: Meridian Pint is really the only joint that has a fully integrated veggie menu. Most restaurants have a singular afterthought veggie option. Something tacked on just to make the vegetarians happy. There was an article I read a long time ago about how all burger people – veggie and meat eaters alike – we’re coming together as one to partake in the love ritual that is a tasty burger. I think Meridian Pint nailed that, and I think I read that article in the Bible.  –Erik Loften

Vegetarian Eggs Benedict: A new addition this past year, Mothership looks to establish Parkview as a contender in the local food scene. I have come here a number of times for brunch and recently paid a visit to catch their dinner offerings. I highly recommend the vegetarian eggs Benedict and a side of bourbon-drenched fluffy pancakes. For dinner, it seems their items are more seasonal and change more frequently. I have only had pleasant dining experiences with each visit. I am very much looking forward to see how these guys evolve. –Sepie Moinipanah

The Beet Salad: there are beet salads everywhere these days, but the Oval Room one is, in my opinion, always the best this city has to offer. Tony Conte works his magic with the root, roasting them, and tossing some otherworldly mix of passion fruit, horseradish and and icewine dressing on it, for a dish that is almost too pretty to eat, but you always end up wanting to order two of – Svetlana


Palak Chaat: A must for Indian food enthusiasts. This cuisine is a real staple for me as a vegetarian and they just simply are the best in the city in my humble opinion. There are so many flavorful vegetarian dishes to choose from and it doesn’t really matter what you get but you MUST get the palak chaat. I am certain that there is a circle of Hell for those who do not order this. Give them all of your business and order lots of naan because that’s what you should do. –Sepie Moinipanah

Breakfast Burrito (vegan): Served all day, it’s the perfect cure to any hangover even one that lasts until dinner time. It’s a simple dish that is not made overcomplicated. –Jessica Garson
Tempeh Ruben: As a general rule, I don’t order sandwiches when going out to eat. It’s like, if I’m going to pay good money for a meal, it better be ten billion times better than what I can make for myself at home, and most vegan or vegetarian options for sandwiches are lackluster. But, odds are, if I find myself in Columbia Heights on a weekend during lunch time, despite my intention to order something else, I will more likely than not get a Ruben from Sticky Fingers Bakery, their version of the classic American deli staple, a delicious cacophony of flavors and textures sans animal products. It’s pretty much perfect. Apparently area vegans agree with me, because when the sandwich was removed from the menu this past summer in a revamp, the bakery got so much shit about it that they had to put it back on the menu. They also conveniently put the recipe up on their blog, so if they ever get rid of it again, and here’s hoping they don’t, Ruben fans can satisfy their sweet, salty, crunchy, buttery, tangy sandwich cravings at home. –Carrie Epps

Dirty Vegan: Vegan and gluten free are often confused for being related or one in the same. Sticky Rice not only understands that this isn’t true, but also takes the time to painstakingly label every menu item to accommodate every kind of diner. The dirty vegan noodle bowl is one of the best non-soup noodle dishes in the city, bringing the savory and robust flavor that most vegan plates lack. Their entire selection of vegetarian and vegan rolls is also pretty comprehensive. –Farrah

Isfahan: I am very excited that I will be moving within spitting distance of this place. This is a nice little sandwich shop that you can totally go with your meat-loving friends as they have something for everyone. I am a HUGE fan of their Isfahan menu item. It’s a spinach, leek and other Persian greens in a soufflé form made into a sandwich with mast-o-khiar yogurt spread. Most importantly all sandwiches can be paired with a side of hummus AND Sprecher’s soda. –Sepie Moinipanah


Any seasonal vegetarian taco: Every month, Taqueria Nacional has a new vegetarian specialty taco. You can absolutely build your own vegetarian taco at any time with the array of toppings they have to offer, but the monthly vegetarian offering means more than just peppers and onions. Acorn squash, fried eggplant and many more are featured in this carefully created taco. Also important: the breakfast tacos can be made vegetarian, too. –Farrah

Vegetarian Prix Fixe Menu: In the past year or so, the owner’s of Thai X-ing have expanded their restaurant and made it much easier for us all to actually get a chance to eat and using modern technology to do so. The days of calling, leaving a message and crossing your fingers to get a call back to confirm the date and time are over. On Sundays, Thai X-ing offers a completely vegetarian pre fixe menu consisting of a four or five course meal so be sure to come hungry. I have been here a few times and regardless of the season, the mouth-watering pumpkin curry makes an appearance. This is a really good thing. Also, the mango sticky rice is arguably the best thing on the menu. Bring a bottle of wine and come with a small party as they cannot accommodate large crowds — it’s a row house after all.  –Sepie Moinipanah
Pretty much any hangover food: There are no real frills here to speak of. That might be one of the standout features of Tortilla Cafe. It’s a pretty simple, straight-forward approach to Salvadorian and Mexican food. While most of their items are meat-centric, this is hands down my number one destination spot when I am hungover. I can pull a real fat kid move and order huevos rancheros, a breakfast burrito AND horchata for under $10. Did I mention that this also includes delicious plantains? Come here hungover, leave a little better. –Sepie Moinipanah

Htipiti: Greek and Mediterranean places are always great fits for vegetarian options because people in those countries grew up cooking with eggplant and peppers and mushrooms as if they were meat. As far bar snacks go, diving neck deep into a bowl of htipiti, dipping those airy breads into it messily is heaven – feta, roasted red peppers and some magical combination of spices – so simple so perfect. The only problem I have with it – the bowl is never big enough.  -Svetlana

Crispy Tofu: The best vegetarian dish in DC is Zengo’s Crispy Tofu. Really? Tofu? Yes, its true.  This tofu dish is like no other. Enrobed in a crunchy, savory crusty, laid on a bed of steaming bok choy, drenched in a sweet and spicy chili sauce, drizzled with a creamy lemon aioli, and garnished with cilantro: this is tofu transformed into a whirlwind of flavor and texture that you won’t forget anytime soon. Ginger, garlic, sesame: all of best Asian flavors are there in abundance. Go there and get a plate now; it won’t be your last. And feel free to lick the last few drops of chili sauce and aioli off your plate, its too good to waste!!! –Priya Konings

Taqueria Nacional 14th Street DC DC Brightest Young Things6

Picks from DC’s food elite

One of my favorite vegetarian dishes in the city is the Assaggio di Primi at Acqua Al 2 in Eastern Market. The restaurant offers a pasta sampler which includes a tasting of five vegetarian pastas to share for the table. The pastas are the chef’s choice, but include possibilities such as penne alla vodka, pasta with a broccoli sauce, and fussili pasta with porcini mushrooms. The sauces in each dish are thoughtful and complex, and each course keeps you guessing as to what is coming next! I also love the avocado toasts with sea salt at Cork Wine Bar, and I think the burrata with crispy kale, hazelnut, apples, and tamarind at Mintwood Place is to die for. For those vegetarians that choose to eat fish, it’s hard to beat the trout amandine at Le Diplomate.

Disclosure: One of my New Year’s resolutions is to cook more. But, when I eat out, it tends to be in Columbia Heights.
Wonderland Ballroom. If you haven’t been to Wonderland for brunch, shame on you. The Veganator is a heavenly blend of veggie sausage, avocado, mushrooms, spinach, and broccoli, mixed in with “the works” — that extra dose of veggies and *vegan* cheese that’ll get your mind right after a rough Saturday night. Make sure you get a bloody mary to go with it.
Kangaroo Boxing Club. I was skeptical when I first went to KBC because all anyone ever talked about was the meat. But they have a veggie option that pretty much kills the game: the Veg n’ Egg. I get it without the egg and douse it with the vegan BBQ sauce. It’s pretty great.
The Commissary: Portabella w/ Chickpea Puree, Purple Kale, Chevre, Quinoa Risotto & Red Pepper Coulis – It’ll come out looking like a bit of a crime scene thanks to the red pepper sauce, which is to die for and much more fun than tomato sauce. Looks aside, this dish is complex, creamy (afraid of how much cream/butter is in the quinoa risotto) and has lots of fun textures. We picked it for Best Thing on the Menu without a shadow of a doubt.
Rose’s Luxury: Burnt Romaine with Avocado, Poblano & Cotija Cheese – You’ll want every salad grilled going forward, a request that will NOT be honored at Chopped (I tried). The cotija is super fresh and there’s just enough heat to give this dish character. This dish was also chosen for Best Thing on the Menu.

Del Campo: Burnt Vegetable Salad, Burrata, Butternut Squash, Sunchokes, Carrots, Smoked Pine Nuts – Sure this spot’s a virtual meat emporium, but you will kick yourself in the vegetarian gut for not ordering this “salad.” The burrata is as soft as a Four Seasons pillow and the blackened veggies are super smokey.

Del Campo Happy Hour Street Food Victor Albisu Photos Brightest Young Things9

Burnt sprouts, Rose’s Luxury – The crispy bits are the best part of eating roasted brussels sprouts. So why not make a salad out of it? This dish is the perfect combination of bitter, sweet, salty and sour (that tarragon-winter citrus dressing is practically drinkable).
Vegan ramen, Daikaya – I think we can all undeniably say that this is one of the best veggie dishes in the city.
Pret’s Hot Falafel Wrap – I once had this sandwich three days in a row. It’s got cheese and roasted red peppers and falafel and marinara sauce and is one of the most beautiful things you can put in your mouth. I get it with a club soda and it’s really great. Don’t act like you’re too fancy for this sandwich.

Dal Makhni at Bombay Club – Indian food’s always a natural choice for vegetarian-friendly fare, and one of the dishes I can never seem to avoid ordering is the Dal Makhni at Bombay Club. I have no doubt that these slow-cooked lentils are pretty caloric, but they’re worth the splurge.

Vegan Ramen at Daikaya – I’m sure I won’t be the only person to mention Daikaya’s vegetarian-friendly take on the classic noodle soup. Sure, I’m not above adding roast pork to my bowl, but the vegetarian version can stand on its own (especially if you accent it with an egg). The charred brussels sprouts are my favorite part of this complex dish.
  • Nevin Martell, Writer EVERYWHERE, Author of The Founding Farmers Cookbook

When I’m in the mood to for a hearty vegetarian sandwich, I always hit up Mike Isabella’s G to get a roasted cauliflower sub. Flavorful, filling and umami-rich, it will make even the most diehard carnivore stop in their tracks and say, “You’re right, that is damn good.” If I’m looking for more formal, composed dishes, either Rasika outpost does the trick nicely. I can never say no to the palak chaat, the gobhi mattar or the dal dhungaree. And in the winter, Takoma Park’s Soupergirl is a, well, super place to get thoughtfully crafted, satisfying vegetarian fare that’s guaranteed to warm you up.


  • Russell Warnick, Freelance Writer/Blogger EVERYWHERE

As a meat loving diner it’s hard for me to not think of sides when it comes to vegetarian dishes, and possibly my favorite in the city is Estadio’s roasted sweet corn with manchego, lime, Basque chili and aioli. This dish exemplifies everything I enjoy about Estadio, perfectly executed – charred kernels of corn tossed in a salty manchego, a squeeze of lime that balances out  the subtle notes from the chili. This dish isn’t always on the menu at Estadio, so when it is do yourself a favor and order it, one per person, perhaps this can be the start of a campaign to make it a permanent item.

One side dish that deserves a place on the entree menu can be found at Mintwood Place, the braised Puy lentils, or if that never happens make a full meal of it by throwing in the goat cheese and beet mountain pie.

Don’t be fooled by the vegetable ramen at Daikaya, it packs a punch in the broth department, more so than the meat bowls, perhaps to compensate for the lack of pork. It’s a bold soup loaded with vegetables including mushrooms, sprouts and carrots to name a few – you won’t even miss the meat (which is offered as an add-on option, but don’t bother.)

I give a notable mention to Etto’s roasted cauliflower pizza, I say notable as it’s technically a meat pizza – you have to request it without anchovies (which I do anyway as I’m not a fan of those pesky things), the breadcrumbs and pine nuts give this pizza a really interesting and unique texture not often found on a pie.

Etto 14th Street DC Photos Brightest Young Things3

Picks from DC’s own chefs

At Trummer’s On Main: One of my favorite vegetarian dishes we serve at Trummer’s on Main are the Pierogies! We serve them with Roasted Butternut Squash, braised kale, and Ricotta Salata. The pierogies are simple but so delicious, filled with potatoes, brown butter, sage, sour cream, and parmesan. The rich flavors make you forget you’re not eating meat.”
Elsewhere: My favorite dish to eat around town are the Spicy Mushroom Empanadas at Del Campo! They are exactly the kind of food people want to eat. Especially at the bar, order some of these and a round of cocktails while you’re at it.
At Sticky Fingers: The best dish at Sticky Fingers is two fold;  the tempeh Ruben is my savory favorite; black pepper marinated tempeh, kraut, house made Russian dressing and fresh rye bread.  My sweet fix is currently our tiramisu donut; a fluffy fried donut filled with Italian style pastry creme and an espresso glaze made with Counter Culture’s organic Espresso.  But that might change next week as I don’t like to eat too much of one thing.  That’s how I avoid o.d.’ing on any one treat.

Elsewhere: My favorite veg/vegan dish is the Chapchae at Mandu, extra dubu (tofu) and no egg please.  It’s beautiful with it’s colorful bright veggies, always perfectly sliced, but the aromas don’t allow me to look for very long.  The cellophane noodles evenly absorb the garlic, smoked sesame oil and sesame sauce flavors so that is sheer heaven in each bite.


At BLT Steak: As far as my favorite vegetarian dish to make goes, I love grilled abalone mushrooms.  They are thick and meaty in texture, similar to a porcini (also known as poor mans steak). Since we are a steakhouse, this works really well because a vegetarian can feel like they’re having a steak, while still being conscious of their dietary choices.  I like to rub them with garlic and olive oil, and then grill them and serve with caramelized onions with a little red wine vinegar, and a small arugula salad with some shaved pecorino toscano.
Elsewhere: As far as my favorite vegetarian dish around town, thats a tough one.  The labneh with za’ahtar at Zaytinya is so delicious that I order two, it is so creamy and perfectly seasoned, and with the fresh pitas and olive oil it’s simplicity at its finest.  Or you have the complete opposite, late night fix at Amsterdam Falafel in Adams Morgan, where any size falafel, with any of the build-your-own falafel toppings is going to be delicious, no matter if its 3 PM or 3 AM.

At Vinoteca: We serve many vegetarian options at Vinoteca, but one of my new favorites is this Red Cabbage and Beet Salad we just added to the menu. It is served warm and actually grilled, with fresh radishes and a creamy Green Peppercorn dressing. The salad helps ease diners into healthy eating while still providing that warm “comfort food” feel. I marinate red cabbage in olive oil, herbs and spices and then throw it on the grill. Then I adds pickled beets, served warm, with a pickled beet juice reduction, and top off the salad with fresh radishes and a house-made green peppercorn buttermilk dressing. I love the way all of the ingredients play off each other: the red cabbage is herbaceous and garlicky, beets are sweet, reduction syrup is tart, the dressing adds creamy spiciness, and fresh radishes cut through it all and add a fresh crunch.

Elsewhere: As far as my favorite dishes around town go, I had this amazing crispy cauliflower and yogurt dish from Rose’s Luxury a couple months ago which was so simple yet memorable.
Squash Blossoms - Oyamel
  • Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Ripple/Roofer’s Union

At Ripple: I just started doing a roasted cauliflower dish for Roofer’s Union that got rave reviews at our pop up last night.  It is roasted cauliflower with mint pesto, pickled golden raisons and upland cress.  I love it cause it is almost meaty because it is roasted at a high temperature to caramelize it.

Elsewhere: As for my favorite veg dish right now it is kinda a combo of some things at Kapnos. George Pagonis’s spreads are amazing and when you order a sampler of three with the fresh pita bread and get the falafel it is pretty awesome. Makes the best Meatless monday ever.

At Pizzeria Orso we enjoy being able to create dining experiences enjoyable for everyone. Our guests – both vegetarians and non-vegetarians – really seem to enjoy my Maple Grilled Butternut Squash Salad with Lentils and Green Peppercorn Emulsion, and of course our famous Brussels Chips with Shaved Grana! The Baby Kale Salad with the Truffled Balsamic-Horseradish Dressing and Fresno Peppers is also a big hit with our meat-less dining crowd. I highlighted these dishes because they are very bright, fresh, and unique. Being able to come up with delicious and creative vegetarian options says a lot about a chef and our ability to be versatile in the kitchen.
Elsewhere: It’s a tie for my favorite vegetarian dish outside of Pizzeria Orso. I’d have to say any vegetarian dish by Executive Chef Bertrand Chemel at 2941 Restaurant – also in Falls Church, VA – and he’s known for creating fantastic vegetarian prix fixe menus especially during the holidays (NYE, Mother’s Day, Christmas Eve, etc), or Pastry Chef Caitlin Dysart’s insanely good Carrot Cake. And my gorgeous wife Kimberly Artley – a Life and Health Coach – also makes an amazing vegetarian dish for us at home called Veggie Bang Bang Hash using Broccoli, Cauliflower, Chick Peas, Green Beans, Asparagus, Kale, Spinach, Turmeric, and Whole Cloves of Garlic!