Washington, DC Restaurants

Here are my favorite first-class restaurants in DC, where you can get a hearty and delicious vegetarian meal in a pleasant dining atmosphere.  Restaurants that offer a separate vegetarian menu are marked with an asterisk (*).  They are organized by neighborhood. 

Chinatown/Penn Quarter


Zengo*
This Latin-Asian fusion restaurant by Richard Sandoval offers a separate vegetarian menu upon request.  The menu also is posted on the restaurant's website.  Everything is delicious.  I especially like the shitake arepas and crispy tofu.  You can read more here.

Proof
This is a romantic wine bar with a number of meat-free salads and appetizers.  They also have an amazing cheese list and offer a delicious crispy tofu dish as an entree.

Zaytinya
This beautiful restaurant by local celebrity chef Jose Andres offers traditional Turkish, Greek, and Middle Eastern mezze (small plates).  The regular menu offers endless vegetarian options, from spreads to pide (flat breads), salads, falafel, bean dishes, and much more.  You can get full on the delicious hummus and bread alone.  Click here for my write-up.   

Jaleo
This Spanish tapas spot was Jose Andres's first DC restaurant, and it's still good years later.  They have a number of vegetarian tapas on the menu, as well as a vegetable paella.  The pan con tomate with Manchego cheese and the Spanish tortilla are two of my favorite (and most filling) dishes.  To read more about this and other DC tapas restaurants, click here.

Oyamel*
Yet another Jose Andres success, this fun Mexican restaurant has a "secret" vegetarian menu upon request.  I say "secret" because it's not posted on the restaurant's website, and most of the wait staff don't know it exists -- but trust me, it does.  Just ask for it and be persistent, even if they give you a puzzled look.  My favorite dishes are the tableside guacamole (I like it better without the cheese) and the mushroom tacos, which are also available on the regular menu.  The stuffed plantain fritters are good too.  Check out my blog post here.

Rasika
This upscale Indian restaurant is routinely rated one of DC's best restaurants by Washingtonian magazine.  The menu has many vegetarian options, including all of the side dishes, which can also be served as entrees.  The restuarant is known for its palak chaat (crispy spinach).  I love the dal makhani (lentils) and malai palak (spinach with garlic and ginger).  They also offer an all-vegetarian tasting menu.  The restaurant has another location in DC's West End.  You can read more here.

SEI
This restaurant serves modern Asian cuisine in an elegant and comfortable setting.  The vegetarian options include sun-dried tomato rolls, seaweed salad, wasabi guacamole, and various tofu dishes.  The cocktails are excellent too.  You can read more here.

Minibar by Jose Andres
If you have money to spend, then don't miss the celebrity chef's "study in avant-garde cooking and one of the nation's most exciting dining experiences" (according to the website).  This is not just a restaurant, it's an adventure in molecular gastronomy.  The 28-course tasting menu can be customized for vegetarians, but not vegans.  You can read more here

Cedar*
This restaurant's website correctly characterizes it as a "hidden gem."  It is located in a cozy basement and serves fare with local, seasonal ingredients.  Cedar takes dietary restrictions very seriously.  Its regular menu offers a number of vegetarian dishes, but the restaurant also offers a separate vegan tasting menu (and each dish also may be ordered a la carte).  You can read more here.

Logan Circle/14th Street


Rice
This "Healthy Green" section of this Thai restaurant's menu is 100% vegetarian, meaning "no fish sauce nor oyster sauce," according to the restaurant's website.  The unique pumpkin empanadas are irresistible!

Masa 14
Like Zengo, this Richard Sandoval restaurant offers Latin-Asian cuisine and serves a number of vegetarian items in both the main dining room and on the rooftop.  I really like the vegetarian handrolls (available on both menus), the marinated portobello bao buns (on the rooftop menu), and the fried tofu (on the regular menu).  You can read more here and here.

El Centro D.F.*
Another Richard Sandoval restaurant, this Mexican hotspot offers a separate vegetarian menu with number of meat-free appetizers, entrees, and sides.  I really like the grilled cactus tacos, which come with rice and refried black beans, and the tableside guacamole.  The restaurant also has another location in Georgetown.  You can read more here.

Doi Moi*
This elegant restaurant (opened by the owners of Proof and Estadio) specializes in Southeast Asian "street food" and offers a separate special diets menu, which includes several vegan and vegetarian items.  You can read more here

Policy
This small-plates restaurant emphasizes fresh, local ingredients.  The menu seems to change seasonally.  Vegetarian and vegan items are clearly marked.  You can also check out the restaurant's special dietary needs menu online.

Barcelona 
This Spanish tapas restaurant offers a number of meat-free options, including Spanish tortilla, cheese plates, and a number of dishes made with chickpeas.  You can read more here.

Cork
This intimate wine bar offers a number of meat-free small plates.  I especially like the exotic mushrooms and the avocado and pistachio bruschetta.  The cheese plates and hand-cut fries are also delicious, as is the wine. 

Estadio*
This Spanish tapas bar is the sister restaurant of Proof, described above.  Although not posted on their website, the restaurant offers a separate vegetarian menu upon request.  Everything is good.  You can read more here.

Kapnos
This first-class, Greek-inspired restaurant is owned and operated by local celebrity chef Mike Isabella, and more than half of its mezze menu is vegetarian.  My favorite dishes are the chickpea spread and fava bean dish with lentils.  You can read more here

U Street/Shaw


Thai X-ing*
This place serves spicy, home-cooked Thai food, and Sundays are 100% vegetarian.  The menu is prix fixe and includes nine unbelievably delicious courses for only $30.00.  Bring your own bottle of wine to take advantage of the $5.00 corkage fee.  You can read more here


Etete
Okay, this Ethiopian restaurant is not exactly a fine dining experience, but if you are visiting Washington, DC, for the first time and you want an "authentic" DC experience, then I recommend that you try one of DC's many, many Ethiopian restaurants.  Most of them offer lots of vegetarian options, especially during Ethiopian fasting season.  Yellow split peas and red lentils are my favorite, but if you order a vegetarian combo plate, you can try a little bit of everything.  Etete is a good place to start, as it is located in the heart of DC's Little Ethiopia.  For a more upscale venue check out Ethiopic in Northeast DC. 

Dino's Grotto
While vegetarians can always subsist on pasta and salad at most Italian restaurants, this place goes out of its way to offer herbivores something more.  The seasonally changing menu offers an endless number of vegetable antipasti and side dishes, many of which include a wide variety of protein-rich beans.  The menu clearly identifies vegetarian and vegan options, and is very accommodating of all dietary restrictions.  The wine list is fantastic. 

Izakaya Seki
This small, family-owned Japanese restaurant offers a number of meat-free small plates and other dishes can be made vegetarian upon request.  The assorted mushrooms are delicious.  The restaurant also has an extensive sake list.


Dupont Circle


Ezme
This is a casual but intimate Turkish spot that offers many vegetarian salads, spreads, and mezze (small plates), as well as a vegetarian tasting menu.  My favorites are the yesil salata (the basil dressing is sweet), mercimek kofte (lentil cakes), and dolma (stuffed grape leaves).  Click here for my write-up.

Raku 
This pan-Asian diner offers a number of meat-free options, including vegetable rolls (check out the crunchy-spicy-avo-qu rolls for something special).  Noodles dishes are available with tofu and, upon request, without fish sauce.  

Mission
This casual Mexican restaurant is great for people-watching, if you're lucky enough to score an outdoor patio seat.  The extensive menu clearly marks vegan and vegetarian items, and also notes common allergens.  The portions are large and filling.  The portobello fajitas are delicious.  You can read more here.


Woodley Park


Lebanese Taverna
This DC mainstay offers traditional Lebanese food with lots of clearly marked vegetarian items on the regular menu.

Cleveland Park


Indique
This place offers delicious Indian food and cocktails (try the kokum martini), with tons of clearly marked vegetarian options.  The chole alu (chickpeas with onions, potatoes, and tomatoes) is my favorite entree.  You can read more here.

 

Downtown


Taberna del Alabardero*
This upscale (and note, very expensive) authentic Spanish restaurant offers a separate vegetarian menu, which is also posted on the restaurant's website.  Everything is first class.

Lincoln
This beautifully decorated Abraham Lincoln themed restaurant is great for tourists and locals alike.  The menu changes depending on the season, but each time I have dined there it has included several tasty vegetarian options. 

Elizabeth's Gone Raw*
DC's only raw-vegan restaurant is located in an ornate townhome-style building and is open only on Friday nights.  The $75.00 prix fixe menu changes weekly and is published on the restaurant's website.  You can read more here.

MXDC
This upscale Mexican restaurant by Chef Todd English offers fresh, seasonal food.  Vegan and vegetarian items are clearly marked.  The mushroom tacos are super tasty.  You can read more here.

Georgetown/West End


Mate
This lively sushi place (which feels more like a club than a restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights) serves the best veggie rolls in the city.  Mate's signature "Amazon rolls" contain avocado, cucumber, asparagus, mango and cilantro, and are topped with a tasty special sesame sauce.  The edamame and seaweed salad also are delicious.

Bodega
This Spanish restaurant offers a number of delicious vegetarian tapas (the garlic mushrooms are especially good), as well as vegetarian paella.  To read more about this and other DC tapas restaurants, click here.

Neyla
This Mediterranean restaurant specializes in typical Lebanese cuisine and offers a number of vegetarian mezze, including hummus, fattoush, baba ghanoush, falafel, saldads, etc.

Peacock Cafe
This elegant restaurant with personable service is one of DC's most veg-friendly places.  It's great for brunch or a light lunch, and offers a number of healthy options, like smoothies, soups, salads, and sandwiches.  The veggie burger reportedly is a favorite of President Bill Clinton.  You can read more here.

Rasika
This upscale Indian restaurant is routinely rated one of DC's best restaurants by Washingtonian magazine. The menu has many vegetarian options, including all of the side dishes, which can also be served as entrees. The restuarant is known for its palak chaat (crispy spinach).  I love the dal makhani (lentils) and malai palak (spinach with garlic and ginger). The restaurant has another location in DC's Penn Quarter.  You can read more here.

Adams Morgan


Mintwood Place
This American restaurant with a French flair offers a number delicious side dishes that are all (or can be made) vegetarian or vegan, in addition to at least one vegetarian entree and several starters and cheese plates.  You can read more here

Mt. Pleasant/Columbia Heights 


Beau Thai*
This Thai restaurant on Mt. Pleasant Street takes dietary restrictions seriously.  Vegetarian items are clearly marked on the regular menu, and a separate vegan/special-diets menu is available upon request.  Everything is fresh and delicious (I especially love the pad king with tofu).  You can read more here

Thip Khao
This is a popular Laotian restaurant in Columbia Heights with an abundance of vegetarian options (just avoid the "jungle menu").  Everything is flavorful, fresh, delicious.  The crispy tofu appetizer is especially good, but you probably can't go wrong no matter what you order.  You can read more here

H Street/Northeast

Unlike the more casual Ethiopian restaurants in Little Ethiopia, this place is pretty upscale.  The food also is a little spicier, in my experience.  Get one of the vegetarian samplers so that you can taste a little bit of everything.   


[more restaurants coming soon]