BYT Fast Casual Guide
kaylee | Mar 7, 2017 | 9:00AM |

D.C. is fast casual paradise. We could write a think piece about how the ephemeral and transitory nature of the District makes it fertile grounds for these trendy, in between concepts, but that would 1. be boring and 2. wouldn’t matter. The why isn’t important. What is important is that in a couple hours you’re going to go out to lunch and you need to know what your options are. Our pretty damn comprehensive guide covers all of the basics, including price, whether or not you’ll die waiting in line and if what you’re over paying for is actually healthy (nothing that comes with a side of fries is healthy).

Now go out and make some good choices.

Asian Fusion

Pow Pow

  • Locations: 1253 H St. NE
  • Price: $$$
  • Best If: You’re looking for Asian fusion that doesn’t make you feel horribly dated. Oh, and you’re a fan of Sticky Rice.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Nope!
  • Healthy?: Definitely not.

Buredo

  • Locations: 825 14th St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You’re a monster who likes sushi burritos.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Maybe.
  • Healthy?: It’s probably fine but I’m morally opposed.

Shophouse

  • Locations: 1516 Connecticut Ave. NW, 2805 M St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You like food that’s actually spicy and not pretend spicy.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Absolutely.
  • Healthy?: Kind of.

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Maki Shop

  • Locations: 1522 14th St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You’re a monster who likes sushi burritos.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: I refuse to believe this monster food is good for you.

Far East Taco Grille

  • Locations: 409 15th St. NE, 635 Florida Ave. NE
  • Price: $
  • Best If: You need a rich variety of tacos in your life.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Yes.
  • Healthy?: Probably not.

Honeygrow

  • Locations: 716 7th St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You have a deep and unwavering craving for noodles.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: Yes, but the less carbs the better.

 

Sometimes You Want Put Sriracha On Everything

We hope this isn’t an early obituary for ShopHouse. The former Chipotle affiliated restaurant may be nearing the end. Since late October, the future of the Southeast Asian fast casual restaurant is unknown. Based on their social media presence, it’s all but over.

But it’s not over. Not yet. ShopHouse is everything right about fast casual.

It’s relatively healthy but not actually healthy. It tastes healthier than anything at McDonald’s but the calorie count is just as high.

It’s faster than most every other assembly line fast casual but not drive-thru quick.

It’s casual but not coffee shop casual. You don’t want to spend an afternoon working out of a ShopHouse but it’s not uncomfortable in any way.

The food is pretty good to good. It’s not great. It’s not bad. If you’re upset with your selections, you can douse your bowl in Sriracha, the one sauce readily available in every ShopHouse.

Whenever ShopHouse closes, it will be missed. It is fast casual perfection. Kind of Asian flavored, served in a bowl, perfect for Sriracha. -Brandon Wetherbee

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Indian

Grand Trunk

  • Locations: 641 Indiana Ave. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You’re stuck in the bougie restaurant area of downtown and you want a surprisingly good burger.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Nope! But you will get wildly confused because the ordering system here is chaos.
  • Healthy?: No way.

Merzi

  • Locations: 415 7th St. NW
  • Price: $
  • Best If: You want a delicious helping of samosas of naan with your bowl.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: As healthy as any other fast casual place.

Indigo

  • Locations: 243 K St. NE
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: Big portions in a place that doesn’t look like it was started to appease the Instagram gods.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Yes. Probably.
  • Healthy?: Probably.

 

Korean

SeoulSpice

  • Locations: 145 N St. NE
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You’re a bulgogi connoisseur.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Maybe
  • Healthy?: Maybe?

Triple B Fresh

  • Locations: 1506 19th St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You want honestly good Korean food.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No, but you will noticeably age.
  • Healthy?: No, but if you look at it just the right way you can pretend.

BAB Korean Fusion

  • Locations: 1387 H St. NE
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You want a variety of options including bulgogi quesadillas, dumplings, seafood pancake.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No, but you will noticeably age.
  • Healthy?: Highly depends on what you order, but you could do worse.

Rice Bar

  • Locations: 1020 19th St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You’re intrigued by the idea of suggested rice pairings.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No, but you will noticeably age.
  • Healthy?: Highly depends on what you order, but you could do worse.

TaKorean

  • Locations: 1212 4th St., SE, 1309 5th St., NE, 13th & F St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You have good taste.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No, but you will noticeably age.
  • Healthy?: It’s too good to be healthy.

Middle Eastern

SKWR

  • Locations: 1400 K St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You want something that’s like Cava but you don’t actually want to go to Cava.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: As long as you don’t get too wild with the dips and cheese, you should be fine.

Cava

  • Locations: 707 H St. NW, 3105 14th St. NW, 1222 Connecticut Ave. NW, 1921 8th St. NW, 4237 Wisconsin Ave. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: Look, you’ve been to Cava before. You know what to expect. We don’t have to coach you on this.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Yes.
  • Healthy?: As long as your bowl is not just tzatziki and crazy feta, yes.

Yafa Grille

  • Locations: 1205 19th St. NW
  • Price: $
  • Best If: You need shawarma in your life and you need it now goddammit.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No, but you will noticeably age.
  • Healthy?: I don’t believe anyone who says shwarma is healthy. It smells too good. It can’t be.

Shawafel

  • Locations: 1322 H St. NE
  • Price: $$$
  • Best If: You love meat and rice more than you love anything else in this world.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: No. Adding a side of fries to your wrap makes it unhealthy. Delicious, but unhealthy.

Food Corner Kabob House

  • Locations: 2029 P St. NW
  • Price: $$$
  • Best If: You want the best goddamn kabob in D.C. That green sauce. That green sauce!!!
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No, but you will noticeably age.
  • Healthy?: It’s too good to be healthy. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.

 

Mediterranean

Roti

  • Locations: 1747 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 1275 First St. NE, L’Enfant Metro Station, 2221 L St.NW, 1629 K St. NW, 1311 F St. NW, 50 Massachusetts Ave.
  • Price: $
  • Best If: Look, I don’t really understand why people like Roti. I never got it. Someone please explain it to me.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No, but you will noticeably age.
  • Healthy?: Sure???

GRK

  • Locations: 1140 19th St. NW, 2121 H St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You want your wrap / bowl / plate / whatever with a healthy scoop of frozen yogurt.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Yes.
  • Healthy?: Could go either way between your sides / desserts / toppings.

Amsterdam Falafel

  • Locations: 2425 18th St. NW, 1830 14th St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: The only thing you allow to touch your tongue is the best falafel you can get in the city. Because it is the best falafel you can get in the city.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No. You will want to punch all the drunk people though. Unless you’re drunk. Then all is right with the world.
  • Healthy?: Not if you do it the right way.

 

Sometimes You Want To Revisit College

2121 H St. NW is open to the public. GRK, Chick-Fil-A, Beef ‘N Bread and Wiseguy Pizza are open, ready and willing to serve fast casual meals to fast casual people. But 2121 H St. NW is also a GW dorm.

If we want to revisit the not glory days, we’ll be going back to GRK. You can get a gyro with fries in it. That’s what I’d eat in college. You can get a really filling vegetarian friendly salad. That’s what I’d eat the day after eating a gyro with fries in it. You can get frozen Greek yogurt. That’s what I’d get on a date because I was too broke for a fancy dinner.

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I would not eat Chick-Fil-A because they love Jesus and the whole point of a liberal arts education is to reject everything your elders approved. Maybe that’s why I didn’t go to a school as nice as GW. Whatever. I’m going to go back to listening to Bad Religion and eating gyros. -Brandon Wetherbee

Mexican

District Taco

  • Locations: 1919 M St. NW, 656 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 1309 F St. NW, 4600 Wisconsin Ave. NW
  • Price: $
  • Best If: Nachos!!!
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Definitely.
  • Healthy?: Hahahahahaha.

Jaco Juice & Taco Bar

  • Locations: 1614 Wisconsin Ave. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You love acai bowls and tacos in equal measures.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: Yes.

Surfside

  • Locations: 2444 Wisconsin Ave., 1800 N St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You want a wide variety of tacos and quesadillas to choose from.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Yes. Definitely.
  • Healthy?: Maybe?

Pizza

&pizza

  • Locations: 405 8 St. SE, 666 Monroe St. NE, 705 H St. NW, 1375 Kenyon St. NW, 1215 Connecticut Ave. NW, 1005 E St. NW, 2224 F St. NW, 1335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 1118 H St. NE, 1400 K St. NW, 1250 U St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You know what &pizza is.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: Pizza transcends health.

Pie 360

  • Locations: 655 K St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: Your sick of &pizza.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: No.

Veloce

  • Locations: 1828 L St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You love Pizzeria Paradiso.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?:

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Sandwiches

G by Mike Isabella

  • Locations: 2201 14th St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You’re looking for an awesome Cuban.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Maybe.
  • Healthy?: No way.

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Halfsmoke

  • Locations: 651 Florida Ave. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You like your meal to be served in a place that also has a selfie alcove.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: No.

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Good Stuff Eatery

  • Locations: 303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 3291 M St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: Burgers!!!
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: What a funny joke.

SUNdeVICH

  • Locations: 3210 Grace St. NW, 1314 9th St. NW, 3212 Georgia Ave. NW
  • Price: $$!
  • Best If: You like to travel the world but not actually go anywhere.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: No.

The Chickery

  • Locations: 1300 Connecticut Ave. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: Your favorite fast food place is Chik-Fil-A but you don’t want anyone to know.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: Get out of here.

GCDC

  • Locations: 1730 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You have the diet of a drunk person or an 8 year old.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Maybe
  • Healthy?: No.

Taylor Gourmet

  • Locations: 1908 14th St. NW, 485 K St. NW, 624 E St. NW, 1200 19th St. NW, 1750 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You have good taste.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: Stop asking me dumb questions.

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South African

Nando’s

  • Locations: 1210 18th St. NW, 819 7th St. NW, 2631 Connecticut Ave. NW, 300 Tingey St. SE, 411 H St. NE, 4231 Wisconsin Ave. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You like things spicy as hell.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: With all those chips and chicken? Please.

Sometimes You Want To Eat In An Airport

I hope ordering at Eatsa never feels normal. I do not want to live in an airport. This is how you order at airports. That makes sense because people from around the globe eat in airports. D.C. may be an international city, but we do not live in an airport.

But sometimes airport living is nice. Talking to people is great but not having to talk to people is also great. Interacting with no human is odd but if you’re in a state of malaise, avoiding others is pleasant. Is Eatsa the future of fast causal? No. Is it the future of robot living? No. Is it fine? For now. -Brandon Wetherbee

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Vegetarian

HipCityVeg

  • Locations: 712 7th St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You want to pretend you’re not a vegetarian.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No. But you will die dodging tourists outside of HipCityVeg.
  • Healthy?: No, but if you look at it just the right way you can pretend.

Beefsteak

  • Locations: 800 22nd St. NW, 4531 Wisconsin Ave NW, 1528 Connecticut Ave NW
  • Price: $
  • Best If: You love Jose Andres more than anything else in your life.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: Yes.

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Chaia

  • Locations: 3207 Grace St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You want damn good tacos and beer in a building that was made for Instagram.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: I hope so because I have definitely made the trek out to Georgetown for these tacos.

The Little Beet

  • Locations: 1212 18th St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You like New York transplants and you can ignore the Shake Shack down the street.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: Definitely.

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Eatsa

  • Locations: 1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 1627 K St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You hate human interaction.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No! You’ll be in and out so goddamn fast it will make your head spin.
  • Healthy?: Probably.

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Sweetgreen

  • Locations: 221 Pennsylvania Ave SE, 2238 M St NW, 1471 P St NW, 2200 Wisconsin Ave NW, 3333 M St NW, 2221 I St NW, 1512 Connecticut Ave NW, 1065 5th St NW, 1901 L St NW, 1325 W St NW, 1212 4th St SE, 888 17th St NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You love music festivals.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Depends on how tiny the location is.
  • Healthy?: Yes.

Little Sesame

  • Locations: 1306 18th St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You love paying obscene amounts of money for hummus.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No.
  • Healthy?: Chickpeas are great so I’m going to say yes.

Protein Bar

  • Locations: 925 17th Street NW, 398 7th Street NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You hate proper spelling. And you love fake burritos.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: Nope!
  • Healthy?: Protein is supposed to be good for you right? Let’s just go with yes.

Shouk

  • Locations: 655 K St. NW
  • Price: $$
  • Best If: You want to try the best pita in D.C. No joke. This is the best pita in D.C. If your order a bowl here, you’re fucking up.
  • Will You Die Waiting In Line?: No, but you will noticeably age.
  • Healthy?: As long as you don’t eat five pitas in one sitting, yes