Being in the habit of posting regularly is a hard habit to break. Half the time, as is the case now, I’ve got four or five posts in mind that I want to write at some point, and I spend a good bit of time thinking about what I want to write while actually doing something else. I won’t have time to write the posts that are percolating in my brain until sometime later. But in the interest of not letting things lie fallow for too long here. I thought I’d post something I’ve been meaning to write for a while.
It’s the answer to a question I often get from people who are about to visit the area. Where are the best places to go for vegetarian food in D.C.?
I’ve been a vegetarian for something like 15 years, and I’ve lived in DC for almost 13 years. Still, I don’t know every place to get good vegetarian food in D.C. (Besides my own kitchen; that is, when I’m in the mood to cook and have the time.) But in the time that I’ve been here, I’ve eaten in many area restaurants — some vegetarian, some vegetarian friendly (which I define as having at least a couple of vegetarian dishes that are more interesting than sauteed vegetables over pasta) — that I have recommended to others. Here they are, in no particular order, with my impressions.
I discovered Java Green just last year, when our company moved into temporary office space just across the street from it. My co-workers told me about it, and I made my first trip there soon afterwards. i would return every week. The menu features sandwiches, salads, and noodle dishes, many of which feature vegetarian “meat substitutes,” but not all. (Some people don’t care for those, but if you’re one of them you’ll still find plenty to enjoy at Java Green.) My favorites are the Veggie Max panini, the Turkey Club sandwich, and the Smoked Turkey wrap are my favorites. Their specials are pretty good too (my fave: the “Chicken” Deluxe).
They also have some pretty good deserts, including some vegan cakes in the refrigerated bin with the drinks. My favorite there is the “Orange Dreamsicle” cake.
It’s a pretty busy lunch spot during the week, and open on Saturday’s too. My only criticism is that it’s a small place and gets crowded quickly. But that’s probably because the food is good.
This place was on the same block as our temporary office space. I walked past it several times without going in, though I chuckled at the thought that our offices were right between Nirvana and Karma. I love Indian food, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to find my way to Nirvana, but I’m glad I did. They have a constantly changing menu for their lunch buffet. The times that I went, my favorite Indian dish (matag paneer) wasn’t being served, but I only missed it for a minute.
Soul Vegetarian had long been on my list of places to check out, and I finally had the chance last year when our former babysitting co-op had a “Parents’ Night Out” dinner. (I think it used to be called “Mom’s Night Out,” but since four gay couples — two lesbian couples and another male couple besides us — joined, and all the couples alternated attendance anyway the name changed.) When we met at the Georgia Avenue location, I had the Tofu Nuggets and a side order of vegan macaroni and cheese, and some sweet potato pie for desert. The prices were more than reasonable, the atmosphere very casual, and the food good.
Juice Joint is not entirely vegetarian, but has a lot of vegetarian lunch options. I found the place several years ago and made it a regular lunchtime destination. They’re open for breakfast and lunch, though I’ve only been for lunch. My favorite is the Roasted Portobello and Red Pepper wrap, with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.
Straits of Malaya
Straits of Malaya is the only one of the restaurants in this post where I’ve not only eaten but also waited tables. It’s not exclusively vegetarian, but very vegetarian friendly. When I worked there new employees had to sample all the dishes on the menu, though veggie were exempted from trying the meat dishes. What I did try was very good, though a bit spicy for my tastes. (I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy foods.) But I regularly took home some Nasi Goreng for dinner after my shift. If it’s still the same as when I went there, the service is family style, so order stuff to share with the rest of the table.
Now we’re in Maryland. Bethesda, actually. Thyme Square is one of the first restaurants the hubby and I went to back when we were dating. It’s still a favorite of ours because the menu is almost evenly split between veg and non-veg fare. Not only that, but they’re committed to using organic ingredients. They almost always have some great seasonal specials, and their special holiday menus have kept us coming back every year. (Yes, for Thanksgiving we made reservations.) My favorites are the Wild Mushroom Lasagna and the Portabello and Pesto Pizza.
One of the many things I love about my non-veg husband is that even though he’s not vegetarian he’s always on the lookout for vegetarian restaurants that we haven’t been to. (When Parker was born, and we were waiting for papers to be signed so we could return to D.C. with him, the hubby found a gourmet vegetarian restaurant near where we were staying.) He’s always telling me about one he heard about or saw advertised, and we always check them out. His best find so far has been Great Sage, out in Clarksville.
It’s a ways out, but we’ve made a few special trips out there for dinner that have been well worth it. And I’m not talking about just the gourmet vegetarian fare, but also that it’s situated in this great little shopping center which features an organic market where we sometimes wander the aisle while we wait for the dinner hour.
I’d recommend something from the menu, but it’s really all good! (Parker particularly likes their PB & J sandwich)
I discovered the Vegetable Garden several years ago, when I was out driving down Rockville Pike with a friend, looking for somewhere to have dinner. We kept passing by the usual suspects: Ruby Tuesdays, TGI Fridays, Applebee’s, etc. I kept suggesting we keep going until we saw something interesting. From the corner of my eye I saw “Vegetable Garden” flashing in neon, and said “Pull in there.” He did, and I’ve never regretted it.
This is probably one restaurant I’m always in the mood to visit. It’s Asian vegetarian cuisine that’s healthy and hearty. Again, I can’t just recommend one thing from the menu, because I haven’t had anything there that I didn’t like. I will recommend one appetizer though. Take my advice and try the Crispy Black Mushroom appetizer. If you like something that’s sweet, savory, crunchy, and chewy all at the same time, you’ll like this.
That’s enough for now, I think. I know there are others that I could add to the list. But there’s still a lot of restaurants I haven’t visited. If you know of some, by all means let me know! Meanwhile, you can check out lots more at this listing from VegDC.Com and this article from Satya.