Diners have a special place in my heart. I think its because I grew up in the 90s, when as a high school student my friends and I would go to the Silver Diner every weekend and hang out for hours, talking, listening to oldies, and eating French fries and shakes. So I went to Fare Well, H Street’s most popular diner, I immediately fell in love with the rotating cake display and the bright blue booths and the stools that line the bar. But when I tried the food I realized this is no ordinary diner. This is the diner of champions.
The food is vegetable-centric, or in other words, plant-based. But don’t get caught up in the terms. Point is, it’s damn good food. It’s diner food that is fresh, green, and local. For dinner, I started my meal with buffalo cauliflower dip, which is a whipped cauliflower and cashew cream dip. It’s velvety and garlicky, with a hint of heat. Even more exciting was the cashew cream burrata appetizer. Amazingly, the vegan burrata has the same creamy consistency of dairy burrata and spreads like butter onto toasted baguette slices. The drizzle of pesto on the burrata makes adds a minty fresh note while capers and balsamic marinated tomatoes served on the side bring some sweet and saltiness. Polenta fries are another app that is good for sharing; they come with a duo of delectable dips, garlic aioli and sweet tomato jam.
For the main course, I don’t know how you will choose just one. I didn’t, and settled on a couple to share. The chickpea seitan BBQ burger is a classic diner burger, with cucumber ranch and a side of ketchup and fries.
The pierogies are puffy pillows with a chewy pasta that envelopes garlic infused mashed potatoes, served on a bed of spinach and sauerkraut, and topped with a dollop of vegan sour cream.
My favorite might be the meat and potatoes platter that isn’t really meat and potatoes: its fried seitan with roasted potatoes, smothered in this luscious, onion-y gravy. Being that it is a diner, you can also get breakfast fare: chilaquiles, a tofu frittata, and even cookie dough pancakes.
Dessert may be the best part of dining at Fare Well, which is true of many diners. There are cookies and cupcakes and milkshakes and brownies and Fluffernutter bars and more. But the cakes. I can’t resist the cakes. Cherry blossom cake with almond flavored cake and a layer of cherry jam, s’mores cake with chocolate cake and toasted marshmallows, and funfetti cake which is, quite literally, a slice of happiness. Eat a slice and take one to go. Because you deserve a slice of happiness.
Fare Well, 406 H ST NE, is open Monday from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Limited reservations are accepted for parties of 5 or more.