Dear PoPville – restaurants with good vegetarian options?

Photo by PoPville flickr user caroline.angelo

Dear PoPville,

My parents are coming into town in a couple weeks and I’m trying to come up with some locations for dinner. The issue is that my dad is a vegetarian, so I’m trying to find tasty places that have creative vegetarian options for dinner and ideally places that have more than option available. Any suggestions would be much appreciated, thanks in advance!

We looked at some options back in Nov. 2011. Any new spots/options you’d recommend?

87 Comment

  • All amazing for vegetarians and meateaters alike:
    Oyamel (although not if he doesn’t eat dairy)
    Masa 14

    Less expensive options:
    Boundary Stone
    Red Rocks
    Smoke & Barrel
    Room 11
    Mandalay in Silver Spring (OMG amazing Burmese food)
    Almost any Thai restaurant
    Any Indian restaurant

    • forgot to also say that small plates/tapas places in general are great for vegetarians (i hear you tapas haters, but i like variety, damn it!)

    • And duh, can’t believe I forgot Busboys and Poets and Eatonville.

      • Did Eatonville change their menu? I can’t access it on this computer for some reason. The last I knew it was like a carnivore’s paradise. I always end up getting the veggie omelette, and even that’s not really veggie (if you’re a veggie that doesn’t eat eggs). Good bloody marys though. 🙂

        • Eatonville has fried green tomatoes (probably an egg wash though for frying), vegan gumbo, great salads, mac n cheese, grits, etc.

          Sure these places aren’t packed to the gills with veg options but definitely several options, and the food is great.

          • Eastonville used to have all sides on the menu, but they removed it for some reason, but the waitress told me you can still order all the great veggie sides. It seems to me they just didn’t like people ordering the rather inexpensive sides, so removed them for the menu. It was also uncomfortable ordering since I didn’t have the details of the sides, price, etc…

            Hope put them back on the menu!!!

    • claire

      Actually, I have a vegan friend whose favorite restaurant is Oyamel – he asks for the guacamole without cheese, for instance, and there are a lot of other options!

    • Masa 14? Really? Their brunch certainly isn’t vegetarian friendly (or wasn’t when I was last there). Bacon, sausage, meat in everything.

      • I love Masa 14 and am veg. Tofu app is awesome, 2 kinds of okra both good, cauliflower (although I suspect this actually has beef broth), veggie hand roll, kung pao veg, etc.

    • Thai is seldom vegetarian

      • Disagree — most Thai restaurants I’ve been to have around 10 vegetarian items on their menus. Usually a few of these are “jae” (vegetarian) versions of dishes that also exist with meat, like pad thai jae (vegetarian version of pad thai).

  • Not to steer you away from our beloved PoP, but the W. Post did a feature on veggie places in last week’s Weekend section. You can probably still find it online…

  • Most places around here have lots of options for vegetarians.

    I really like:

    – Royal Thai
    – Rasika
    – Ethiopic
    – El Tamarindo
    – Believe it or not, there’s a Chinese place in Rockville that does all kinds of crazy vegetarian takes on meat dishes (General Tso’s chicken, etc.) — it’s called Yuan Fu. If you have access to a car, it’s definitely worth the trip!

    Standard American/Pub
    – Meridian Pint
    – Tonic
    – Boundary Stone

  • Ethiopian food–as long as he can do dairy (most of it has butter). I like Etete for sit-down and Zenebech Injera for takeout.

    Also, any good pizza restaurant. Or Lebanese Taverna.

    • Lots of places can and will do butter. If I’m not mistaken, I believe all of Ethiopic’s veggie offerings are vegan (and great!)

    • Actually, the vegetarian dishes in most Ethiopian places are made without butter because their Lenten period requires a diet free of animal foods. I can’t really recommend Meskerem because their service has gotten so bad. If you’re going to be in Arlington, check out Dama and ask for the vegan menu. They have vegan “tibs” made from seitan that are just incredible.

      I like Thai Chili near the Verizon Center. And I went to dinner with some carnist friends at Clyde’s at Gallery Place before a Caps game earlier this year. They have a couple of vegetarian dishes. The tofu was surprisingly good, but it seems their menu has changed, so check the menu before you go.

      Busboys and Poets has a great brunch. I love their tofu scramble. They also have great options for veg*ans on t heir dinner menu.

      District of Pi (pizza) on F Street is also pretty good. There’s also Zpizza, which is a lot more casual. Zpizza offers veggie crumbles for your pizza that are really good (better than the Match Meat vegan crumbles offered by Pi). There’s also Pete’s Apizza. All three places offer Daiya vegan cheese.

      Check for recommendations in your neighborhood.

  • I second the recommendation to see the article from the Washington Post. I’d add Bombay Club and Rasika to the list. Their dal is amazing. If you want to go high class City Zen is supposed to have an amazing vegtarian tasting menu. I’ve never been, so I can’t vouch for it. Teaism is a good casual place as well.

  • Good (not comprehensive though) list here:

  • Keep in mind that a lot of Thai restaurants use fish sauce in their dishes. As a long time vegetarian, my favorite “go to” spot is Busboys and Poets. Lots of variety there, and omnivores can always find something to eat as well.

  • David Garber

    H & Pizza on H Street is really great and has a lot of veg/vegan options.

  • springroadintoaction

    Meridian Pint has a surprisingly strong number of delicious vegetarian options.

  • Estadio is not good for veg’s, IMO

    • I disagree– was just there recently with my aunt and cousin. None of us are strictly vegetarian, but we all prefer vegetarian food. We ordered all veggie dishes that were very filling and delicious with a lot of variety.

      • the problem is that all the best options from estadio have meat or fish. it’s hard to put a really satisfying meal together from blistered peppers, kale, and beets.

        • Again, I disagree. I loved my meal of kale, blistered peppers, cheese, almonds, olives, fritters, radish butter, and some other things I’m sure I’m forgetting!

        • Yeah i totally disagree as well. My BF and I always order veggie sides and the pan con tomate at estadio and are very happy. The food is awesome. I mean, if you don’t like vegetables, you’re right, you probably aren’t going to be satisfied with a meal of kale, pea shoots, potatoes and shishito peppers, but I surely am.

  • Tandoori Nights in Clarendon (and I think there is another location…Bethesda maybe?) have some great options. I eat the vegetarian entrees and I’m not vegetarian!

  • My dad is a longtime DC resident and longtime vegetarian, and Zentinya by Gallery Place is his favorite restaurant in the city. I agree that it’s quite great. Try it out, super convenient to metro too.

  • For VA: Aladdin’s Eatery and Sunflower.

    • Aladdin’s is really not good at all. Sunflower’s ok, especially if you love tofu, but not worthy of the hype and certainly not worth dealing with the scary 7 Corners traffic. If you’re stuck in the suburbs I’d recommend going to a big chain restaurant because they’re accomodating of special diets and usually have a lot of options for vegetarians.

      • Not very helpful. Care to elaborate?

      • By “big chain” I assume you mean something like Chilis or TGFridays? So let me get this straight, you’d send a vegetarian to Chilis over Aladdin’s Eatery where they have healthy options not made with Cisco crap? Lol. Allllllrighty then. No offense, but I hop you never suggest restaurants for me.

        • ^ urban snobbery at its finest

          • suburban buffoonery/d-daggery (above)

          • Oooh, good one Mr. Hipster. Since you obviously don’t care about the quality of your food, why don’t you go find some dirt to eat. It’s local and you won’t be supporting the evil big businesses!

          • you call it snobbery, we call it standards.

          • You’re confusing supporting small local businesses with having standards. The former is a worthy cause, no doubt, but we really shouldn’t be recommending businesses that aren’t very good strictly because they’re not a chain.

        • Sysco, not Cisco. My bad.

        • Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean a vegetarian is going to enjoy a dried-out flavorless falafel sandwich, which is what you’ll get at Aladdin’s Eatery. My girlfriend’s mother lives near one and we’ve eaten there several times out of desperation, but it’s always terrible. Just because we’re vegetarians doesn’t mean we don’t care if our food is bland or poorly prepared. A TGI Fridays- type place at least has a “formula” which allows the dishes to come out consistently decent, even if they’re not the most inventive or sophisticated meals in the world.

          Anyway, I’m assuming the OP lives in DC so I’m not even sure why we’re talking about VA restaurants…

  • 2 Amys; despite being a pizza place, I’ve taken vegans there without a hitch.

  • The WaPo recently did an article on faves…it’s also on their website! Had some good ideas..

  • For a more casual option, Le Pain Quotidien is always a good choice with lots of vegetarian/vegan options.

    • Bcafe located on 12th Street NE (in Brookland/CathU area) has Vegan and meat items. Menu on website…

  • I have always been amazed that there are no dedicated vegetarian/vegan restaurants that I know of in DC. New York has tons and Philly has a good number. The fact that I know of not a single one in DC has always puzzled me.

  • +1 on Zatinya, Oyamel, Red Rocks, Jaleo, 2 Amys, Rasika (good luck getting in), Bombay Club, BusBoys and Eatonville.

    I would also add that the Heights and its sister restaurants have good veggie options too.

    -1 on Meridian Pint, while they have veggie options they are not that tasty….

    • I agree on Meridian Pint. I love that they are trying, but I feel like they need to realize that if their meat eating chef thinks it is bland, a vegetarian is going to feel the same way. I think some chefs try hard, but then are like “well, I don’t like it, but I’m not vegetarian so what do I know.” We have taste buds too.

  • I’m veg and my parents insist on meat, and our happy compromise restaurant is Founding Farmers.

    • I had an incredibly mediocre meal there a few weeks back. also, it’s been getting panned by the wapo food guy. the dc location isn’t good.

    • People knock Founding Farmers but we’ve always enjoyed our meals there. I was bummed by their brunch, but dinner/lunch have been enjoyable when we’ve been.

  • Domku has an amazing vegetarian swedish meatballs (with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam). Their summer menu also has tons of great small veggie plates. Good ones include: roasted brussel sprouts, leeks with hazelnuts, veggie caviar spread, and roasted tomatoes with feta bruschetta. Super delish!

  • Did I miss the Cafe Green post? They have great vegan/veggie options.

    • Cafe Green’s sister restaurant, Java Green, is better, cheaper, and has more options.

      • Cafe and Java Green are decent, but the OP seems to be looking for meat-friendly places that are also veg-friendly … which is why I think people are focusing on non-strictly-veg places.

  • Meridian Pint
    Dino in Cleveland Park (fantastic, often go with my folks)
    Rosemary’s Thyme (we love to sit outside there and enjoy a light salad)
    I’ve heard Mandu is good for veggies
    Indique/Indique Heights
    If you want to travel for Indian, Saravana Palace in Faifax is THE BOMB
    That’s just a start….

  • Bistro Boheme had some great veg options last time I was there. And I love the black eyed pea dish from Shaw’s Tavern.

  • Mandu has a vegetarian brunch plate that offers great variety and unique flavor. Does include eggs, fyi.

  • Nearly every restaurant in dc has something vegetarian. I’d avoid Brazilian, BBQ joints ( except smoke and barrel), steak houses, place like “pig” or anything with animals or animla parts in the name and you’ll be fine.

    • SouthwestDC

      French restaurants are usually low on vegetarian options too. But I agree– I’m mostly vegetarian but don’t feel a need to specificially seek out vegetarian-friendly restaurants.

  • Check out! SOOOOOOO many good veg-friendly restaurants listed there.

    My suggestions:
    Casa Oaxaca, has a new special vegan menu
    Busboys & Poets or Eatonville
    Smoke & Barrel!!!!!!!!!
    Founding Farmers
    Dama Ethiopian (they have meat and veggie meat!)
    District of Pi
    Also shouldn’t miss Sticky Fingers, I heard they’re doing Wednesday night supper clubs in August.

  • Plus, you can request a print version of the online Veg Guide to DC which is actually brand new and was JUST reprinted:

  • Cava on Barrack’s Row – my veggie friends that live there love it – and third Rasika. Dined with Vegan friends and asked the waiter to provide vegan dishes – he just brought the food and they ate it up – great customer service.

  • I usually just pull up the VegDC website on my phone and see what’s closest. They have a list of pizzerias offering vegan cheese, and as I’m dairy-free, I usually drift toward the closest spot on that list, which isn’t too far in this city. Best in show so far? District of Pi’s deep dish options–very gnosh-worthy.

  • My favorites

    Cava Mezze

    Casual Dinner
    Casa Oaxaca +++ Best mexican in DC by far
    Pho 14 (ask for no fish sauce)
    Cafe Green (all veg – hit or miss on some things)
    Science Club (happy hour goodness)
    Pete’s Apizza (best pizza, has soy cheese too)
    Tonic and The Heights for Mt. P and Columbia Heights have good options
    Bus Boys and Poets

    Lunch counter style
    Sticky Fingers (Food and baked goods)
    Soul vegetarian cafe (Soul vegan)
    everlasting life cafe (soul vegan)
    Java Green

    Late night
    ben’s chili bowl has veggie chili, veggie dogs, and veggie burgers. Veggie chili cheese fries are pretty close to the best late night splurge ever.
    Amsterdam falafel

  • Would someone please explain to me why people keep suggesting Eatonville?

  • Busboys and Poets is awesome for vegetarians/vegans. Also, Pete’s Apizza serves wonderful vegetarian and vegan pizzas – one of the few upscale pizza places I’ve been to where the crust is vegan and the cheese can be, too.

  • Pete’s Apizza (several locations, though I’m only familiar with the Columbia Heights store). Eat-in, carry-out and delivery. Great pizza– Gluten-free and vegetarian available. Really interesting antipasta salads, but double-check the ingredients on those because sometimes they have a some meat in one of the 3 or 4 salads that comprise the dish. You can ask them to omit any non-veg.

    I also like the Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s restaurants which include Rustico in Alexandria and Buzz Cafe.

    And Pitango gellato or sorbetto for dessert.

  • I can’t believe I forgot to mention this–I just went there for my birthday on Saturday–but Rice in Logan Circle (14th Street just north of Q) has a Healthy Green menu that is vegetarian–and the menu specifies that the dishes are cooked in soy and mushroom sauce. The people who own that also own DC Noodles on U Street. I would go earlier in the evening or at lunch because when we went there Saturday night around 8, the noise was deafening.

    I really love their Crispy Tofu and Ginger (with lots of mushrooms). It’s served with a coconut-tinged rice and is one of my favorite dishes ever. It’s great for carnists and veg*ans to eat together.

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