Best vegan restaurants in DC
Husband and wife team Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray's Equinox is a shining example of how plant-based dishes don't have to be boring and can also satisfy those not following a vegan diet. The menu isn't entirely vegan, as it's divvied into market selections and plant-based selections, but it's easy enough to ignore the meat or fish entirely and choose veggie-only options. Start your meal with the addictive crunchy artichokes alla Romana, with red pepper aioli, before moving onto a texture-rich entree of tempura cauliflower with fall vegetables and rice. Diners can either order a la carte, or choose a 3-, 5- or 7-course tasting menu. Don’t forget to visit the premise on Sundays to enjoy the famous vegan buffet brunch.
Elizabeth Petty opened up her namesake Elizabeth's Gone Raw in 2010. The restaurant is a homage to her own discovery of the healthful benefits of raw-vegan cuisine after being diagnosed with breast cancer the year prior. Now, executive chef Francisco Hernandez offers up a 7-course tasting menu at the restaurant. The catch is that it's a Friday night only affair, with the restaurant taking over the space that houses Petty's catering venue, Elizabeth's on L. The tasting menu changes monthly and costs $75 pre-tax and pre-tip. Optional wine pairings are available as well.
The new concept from DC's vegan queen Doron Petersan (see Sticky Fingers, below) opened this summer. A full-service bistro and bar, the eatery also offers to-go fare and bakery items. Try the mushroom-chickpea patty served up in the Burger, with walnuts, sunflower seeds, garlic aioli and caramelized onions; or the Pierogi, with cashew cheddar, garlic and onion potato pierogis served with sauerkraut and sautéed greens.
Sticky Fingers owner Doron Petersan bills herself as a “junk-foodie genius” and she has the creds to back up that claim (she won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars twice). You’ll certainly, then, want to try her cupcakes at vegan spot Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats, open since 1999. Although the original sticky bun remains a fan favorite, patrons should taste the full lineup of baked goods. On the savory side, the cafe offers plates like the Smoky BBQ burger, a lentil patty topped with house-made tempeh bacon, and the Alt-Tuna Melt, with chickpea tuna salad and house-made cashew Swiss. Brunch is also served on the weekends until 2:30pm.
The Philadelphia-based fast casual chain opened its first DC area location this summer and quickly became a crowd favorite, offering tasty, 100% plant-based fare. Try the Crispy HipCity Ranch, a battered chick'n sandwich with creamy peppercorn ranch, or the Ziggy Burger, with smoked tempeh and special sauce. Also find salads, sweet potato fries, dips, juices and smoothies. Finish off your meal with the popular banana whip dessert bowl customized with your choice of toppings.
When José Andrés puts his promotional power into the plant-based game, you know major change is afoot. After opening its first location in the spring of 2015, his fast casual concept has been rapidly expanding. The lineup is geared more towards vegetarian than vegan choices, but it's all clearly demarcated, with NV standing for non-vegan on the menu. Substitutions are readily available and plenty of otherwise fully vegan options abound. When in doubt, just build your own bowl or salad, choosing from dozens of ingredients and add-ons.
The plant-based tacos from friends Suzanne Simon and Bettina Stern earned such an outstanding following that the duo turned the concept into a full fast casual shop in Georgetown. Offering urban street fare that they dub “farm to taco,” Simon and Stern focus on local farm partnerships and sustainability. Although some options are vegetarian, anything can be turned into a 100% vegan meal by requesting the removal of dairy ingredients.
Evolve takes a different approach to food by showcasing 100% vegan soul food. Drawing rare reviews for the heart-warming, belly-filling fare, the full-service restaurant also offers a lineup of local brews alongside classic and original cocktails. Try the vegan mac and cheese or the southern fried chick’un. For dessert, make sure to try the German chocolate cake and the cheesecake.
Ran Nussbacher opened Shouk this spring. Taking on a Middle Eastern-centric theme, the 100% plant-based menu is anchored by a variety of delectable pitas. Choose from over half a dozen different pita combinations, such as the one featuring roasted cauliflower, tomato, scallion, tahini and jalapeno oil. You can opt to turn any pita into a rice and lentil bowl, or order a salad instead.
NuVegan wants you to eat healthy while enjoying a relaxing environment that's healthy for the soul as well. Choose an entrée or a sandwich from the diverse lineup of 100% vegan fare (platters are a big hit) and request a pressed juice, smoothie or shake to go along with your meal. Don’t forget to also try out the eatery’s delicious baked treats.