The new year is here. That means the holiday season—and all the indulgent eating and drinking that comes with it—is winding down. And if you’re ready to swap the cookies and party snacks for something healthier, the D.C. restaurant scene is here to help. There are a number of affordable and creative vegetarian restaurants where you can start 2018 off with an extra kick of nutrition and energy. Here are five favorites to start with.
Beefsteak was created by D.C. chef José Andrés, who’s known for his innovative and high-end cooking at restaurants like Jaleo and Minibar. But he’s also a big promoter of making healthy food affordable to the masses. That was the idea behind Beefsteak, which applies the “build your own” model of fast-casual food to a vegetarian diet. The restaurant has suggested selections of bowls and salads, as well as tons of customizeable options. If all vegetables is a stretch, add an egg or some cured salmon on top for extra protein.
(3207 Grace St. NW)
The hearty, seasonal combinations at Chaia prove that tacos don’t need to be stuffed with beef or chicken in order to be tasty and filling. The creamy kale and potato pairing is especially welcome on cold winter days, with it’s kick of poblano crema. Collard greens with queso fresco and Moroccan carrots with goat cheese and mint are also tasty. They come three for $11 and you can also buy sides of rice, beans, beer and wines.
(1210 Potomac St. NW)
As the name suggests, this small Georgetown restaurant turns out cheap and healthy falafel meals, with a standard sandwich running just $3. Bowls are $4 (hummus can be added for $1). Sides are $3 each and include picks like zaatar fries and tabouli salad. Make a stop at the condiment counter for some spicy or garlicky dips. A portion of all sales to go support and feed refugees around the world, so you can feel extra proud of eating well.
712 7th St. NW
Philadelphia import HipCityVeg is out to show that Vegan food doesn’t need to be boring. Here, you can dig into meatless versions of Philly steak sandwiches, and burgers, including a “chick’n” poultry substitute that gets rave reviews. There are sweet vegan milkshakes to finish it off, too.
(655 K St. NW)
Vegetables take center stage in the pitas and rice bowls at Shouk. Flavors of the Mediterranean and the Middle East dominate the menu, like mushroom with zaatar and tahina, fennel with red pepper and pistachio pesto, and black bean with sweet potato and spicy harissa. The faux-egg breakfast pita is also a great option—it’s hard to believe it’s made entirely with vegetables. Cashew-based lebneh dip is also quite the achievement. You won’t miss the meat one bit.
By Travis Mitchell