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A few months ago, the D.C. vegetarian/vegan world was shaken to its core when its foundation restaurant, the place where we had been able to finally enjoy plant based food without spending exorbitant amounts of money, closed without warning.

If the first thought that entered your brain after reading that was “I MISS NATIVE FOODS TOO!”, then my dear, dear, plant-based orphan, I have wonderful news. A new restaurant called HipCityVeg is opening its first D.C. location right here on 7th street and your prayers to any and all soy based gods have been answered.

We arrived to check the place out a few days ago via pedi cab (how else do you get to a vegan chain?). I was dragging a semi-relucatant BYT photographer who had threatened to commandeer the pedi cab and go get a real burger, when we were greeted with a chocolate milkshake. I kind of assumed they had gone crazy, or maybe I had misread what this place was (like some other local “veggie-centric” places that don’t even have tofu, you know who you are), but ah- not to worry, the creamy treat was made with soy ice cream. I had just drank a chocolate milkshake from Trickling Springs the day before, so I feel fairly able to say, with 100% accuracy, that it tasted like a regular milkshake.

The space is almost as refreshing as their milkshakes, lots of blonde wood, a giant sign that says CRISPY (their most popular item is their “Crispy HipCity Ranch Sandwich” but more on that later) and a big sign on one wall with their plant-based motto. As we sat down for lunch with the founder, Nicole Marquis, we brought up the giant sign. It reads “we enjoy every bite of this delicious life,” which seems to bring up the non-animal eater mindset without specifically mentioning it. Nicole agreed, saying, “We want to serve satisfying and familiar food that people who didn’t think they could enjoy a plant-based meal will love.”

The staff then brought out some of their more popular salads for us to try. Their Jerk Caesar Salad and Udon Noodle Salad (both made with chick’n) were pretty delicious. Super healthy? Maybe not. But very good.

Next up was the aforementioned Crispy HipCity Ranch Sandwich, with its crunchy, fried, chick’n. It was incredible. Incredible enough to make you not care if it’s healthy or not. It’s nice being able to indulge in something kind of ridiculous, especially when it is so delicious and… I sort of hate myself for typing this… but it really is crispy. They served it with their sweet potato fries and I can definitely see myself stopping here at least once a week to treat myself after work. The only issue is that everything is soy based except for a lone portobello option, and it would be nice to give us some other plant-based proteins.

Definitely don’t skip on dessert here. We tried their Banana Whip, which they claim is just made with frozen bananas, but it is so damn creamy and sweet I both believe it and don’t. Top it with brownies and chocolate chips and it is the perfect warm weather treat.

As we rolled ourselves back into the pedi cab, I turned to my photographer, half expecting him to start complaining. “So what did you really think?” I asked. “That… was… awesome…” was his only reply. Agreed. For meat eaters and vegans alike, HipCityVeg is worth a try because it’s… soy delicious.

HipCityVeg opens today with free pedi cab rides and a free menu item.
712 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001