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Vegetarian Experiment For a Month

So the wifey and I are going to go Vegetarian for a Month. Not for any reason other than its on our life list of things to do. And it would be nice to discover a whole new side to D.C.'s good eats.

Where must we go to get good Vegetarian food? Right now I love things like the chick peas at Kabob Palace, grilled vegetables at a small Korean joint by work and falafels in Adams Morgan.

What would you guys recommend? We have no experience or friends who eat vegetarian. We are open to travel and if you like a particular food at the local grocery store let us know.

thanks and for your trouble here are some bunnies in costumes:


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  1. Indian restaurants are always a good source for vegetarian food - I like Rasika for upscale, and Indique for a neighborhood place. There are a few places in DC that serve only vegetarian food - I think the place in Georgetown is called Amma. Most Asian places also have good vegetarian options - think lots of eggplant dishes at Thai places, for example. Tofu at Asian places is always an option.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dcandohio

      The peshawari chole at Indique Heights packs some satisfying protein, but the aloo tikki (potato croquettes) makes the experience, and the Ceylon paratha is like some kind of perverse hot croissant...yum. I've been veg for over 15 years, but I've never run into a restaurant that hasn't already featured a dish or two to accommodate me. The only exception: a chicken Caesar in Congress that "couldn't" be made without chicken. Once again, I've been taxed but not represented!

    2. There are lots of italian dishes without meat? At least their first courses and second courses. Also Ethiopian food in DC is veggie heavy as is lebanese food so perhaps Dukem, Queen Merkado, or one of the other good ethiopian places, I think lebanese taverna has a whole veggie platter for two too. I can't think of any all veggie restaurant names, but I know they are there, oh shoot! I will try to think of them and reply back later. One I recall is a flower name and I just can't think of it.

      1. You can find everything you need to know here:

        1 Reply
        1. re: shellymck

          I think it's a pretty good website to start with too. Just wanted to add that if you do drive, I really love Yuan Fu Chinese restaurant on the Pike. They are next to the Jiffy Lube, near the Citibank. ALL mock meats there. I really like the lotus wrapped sticky rice appetizer. :)

          I enjoy going to Sunflower, although some of their stuff can be too vinegary. Just has an acidic taste to it. But, they make a *really* good turnip/radish cake on the appetizer options.

          Sticky Fingers by Columbia Hgts Metro station makes really good sandwiches, and really good desserts.

          If you go to either Sticky Fingers or Java Green, it's best to metro it (Farragut West or North is close by JG) -- it's really hard to find parking. I really like the coffee and wraps at Java Green, but I found their JobChae (I think that's their spelling) to be a bit sweet for me...

        2. second those previous mentions. Great veg indian in Langley park if you have a car--both Udupi Palace and Woodlands. Both on university.

          Thai, Indian, Malaysian and Burmese always have a wealth of vegetarian choices on their menus.

          Jaleo and Zaytinya both have tons of great veg dishes.

          1. Java Green is a vegetarian restaurant that you'll need to try--you can even try fake meat!

            Rice on 14th St has some interesting veggie dishes

            Japanese restaurants have a lot of veggie choices that you can make a meal out of

            Mexican restaurants actually have a lot of veggie options BUT make sure they aren't cooking their beans or dishes in lard (A couple of Chipolte's beans are not vegetarian).

            1. Vegetate ... some of the best food in DC, vegetarian or otherwise! Its on 9th Street south of Rhode Island... and they have their liquor license now.

              1. There's a vegetarian place in Vienna and now 7 Corners by the name of Sunflower (I believe). I haven't been, but it's received decent reviews on this board before.

                Nearly any Asian. Japanese has been spoken of already, but Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines offer many options - especially if you're not overly strict about the use of fish sauce.

                My wife and I aim for at least one day a week with as little meat as possible (and have trimmed back on meat when we do eat it - for the most part). We incorporate more tofu, have falafel, go for dishes with eggs and nuts (Pad Thai and sister dishes, for instance). Of course on the eggs - that has to be in your boundaries.

                1. - the felafel and baba ganoush (among other mezze) at Lebanese Butcher, Falls Church
                  - great cheap fried tofu at Thanh Son Tofu, Eden Center, Falls Church. plain, onion, and lemongrass-pepper. they also have fake meat.
                  - if you're going this deep into vegetarianism, DC-area Trader Joe's and Cheesetique in Del Ray provide lists of their cheeses that are made with non-animal-derived rennet. All cheeses made by Horizon and Amy's are purely vegetarian in this way, as is the cheese on the pizza at Cafe Pizzaiolo in Crystal City. if in doubt, if the ingredients lists simply says "enzymes" it's almost always animal-derived.
                  - in DC-area supermarkets, check out frozen products made by Morningstar Farms, Boca, and Quorn. MF makes good fake breakfast meats IMO. Quorn products are uniquely made with mycoprotein, providing a more fibrous texture than other fake meats.
                  - if you're on the run, there's always the Burger King veggie burger
                  - finally, if you like the chick peas at Kabob Palace, you'll LOVE them at Ravi Kabob on Glebe Rd at Pershing in North Arlington. either side of the street.
                  good luck

                  1. I don't think I would have made it as a vegetarian if it wasn't for Pan Nang Tofu from Thai Tanic on 14th St (or any Thai place). Made me love tofu in all its forms. Good luck.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pstation12

                      the trick is to find the Thai place that properly cooks the tofu, too many places let the tofu soak up the sauce and it becomes a plateful of full wet mini-sponges. Bangkok 54 is an example of a place that does it right; its neighbor across Columbia Pike, Thai Rincome, serves up the sponges.

                      1. re: Jamie D

                        Kanlaya has a whole vegetarian menu. (www.kanlayathaicuisine.com).
                        We're not vegetarian but always order the Eggplant Pad Ped.

                        Kanlaya Thai Cuisine
                        740 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                    2. Like many other previous posts I think that Indian offers the widest range of veg preparations. It is essentially because vegetarianism is very much in the Hinduism religion and Yoga, hence a large population over the years has learnt to come up with different spice combinations which are tasty and light on the digestion. Also there is no use of any meat stock or fish/shrimp sauce. In restaurants try to avoid curries/gravies which are doused with cream and/or ground cashews in the name of creating something rich. Both these enriching items are a scarce commodity in an average Indian kitchen.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: stoned

                        It looks like the powers-that-be deleted my original reply to this post. So leaving aside the blather about "the Hinduism religion and Yoga", I'll just say that:

                        1) if the OP cares about things like use of stock or seafood, he should check at any Indian restaurant just like any other restaurant, as there are very many non-vegetarian Indians;

                        2) if the OP cares about food that's "light on the digestion", then Indian food (especially Indian food in restaurants) isn't necessarily the best bet; and

                        3) Milk and nut products are in my experience very common in the average Indian kitchen, and many great dishes (vegetarian or otherwise) rely on them.

                      2. Butterfield 9 offers a vegetarian tasting menu which is quite good (my bf ordered it once because he thought it looked better then the regular tasting menu and he's not even a vegetarian). They usually have at least 2 or 3 veggie options on the regular menu as well. They also have the pre-fix pre-theater menu option with vegetairan options as well.

                        For a higher end spot, you should check out Equinox when it reopens. They are usually able to work with diners with any dietary needs and they do amazing things with local, seasonal vegetables.

                        Mai Thai in Dupont Circle has great Thai food and a bunch of vegetairan options. In terms of Indian food I really love Heritage in Dupont Circle. You can also eat fairly cheap there off of their street food menu.

                        And of course my favorite vegetarian cheap eats spot---Amsterdam Falafal and California Tortilla.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Elyssa

                          I've never tried any veggie dishes at Cal Tort (thanks to a 13-year addiction to the blackened chicken caesar burrito doused w/ Cholula sauce that has made it very difficult to bring myself to sample any of the other items on the menu). What would you recommend in particular?

                          1. re: sweth

                            So funny that you made that post. I've also actually never tried anything besides the chicken caesar burritto either! I'm 100% addicted. I tell myself everytime I'll try something else and once in a blue moon my bf lets me taste his buritto but we are both insanley possessive over our Cal Tort burrittos.

                            So I can't personally make any recommendations I just know you can turn a lot of the burittos vegetarians if you take out the meat etc. Also they make a classic burritto without meat which I imagine is quite good.

                            1. re: Elyssa

                              Okay, this will force me to try Cal Tort one more time. Elyssa, (and actually Sweth too), our recommendations are often very similar. But I have really not had anything worth while, imo, at CalTort yet. And the difference btwn us liking so much that's similar, but me REALLY not getting on at Cal Tort seemed an odd disparity. So, I'll get there again over the next few days and try that particular order.

                              1. re: Dennis S

                                Have you had the blackened chicken caesar salad buritto? If not get that the next time you go! It's amazing!!!

                                I'm not sure if the food differes from spot to spot but I usually go to the Gallery Place/Chinatown location if that helps. Now I'm craving one...looks like I might need to have that for lunch or dinner tomorrow :)

                                1. re: Elyssa

                                  Nope, haven't had that one, and based on our likeness in most recs I'll try it. The Reston outpost is new, so they probably go "by the book" whether good or bad. I'll be honest that I still have my doubts. Not about you, hence the rec similarities of our recs, but about CalTort, based on my past experiences.

                                  At any rate, I'll keep my mind open and give another try.

                                  1. re: Dennis S

                                    Ii'm a fan of CalTort but their veggie options are nothing to rave about...and I really like this place. Their chicken is good, as well as their tortilla soup (not veggie). I would actually stick with Qdoba. They have decent veggie fajitas.

                                  2. re: Elyssa

                                    I am obsessed! It's really the only thing I like from there....everything else I have tried has been dissapointing but I love the ceasar burrito. And the chips and queso...

                                  3. re: Dennis S

                                    I don't know that I'd recommend going out of your way for Cal Tort--I'd honestly rather have someone move a taco truck from San Diego here than have another Cal Tort open--but they do a solid job of cranking out a not-bad burrito with pretty good quality ingredients. My addiction, however, may have as much to do with the fact that they carry Cholula hot sauce, which is like a richer, garlickier version of Tabasco; the creamy dressing they use on their chicken caesar burrito cuts the Cholula perfectly.

                                    1. re: sweth

                                      I definitely agree on the whole with this sentiment, sweth. Qdoba, Chipotle, Baja Fresh, etc, all end up in the same place for me. To this point (I haven't gone back for the Caesar), CalTort is in last place tie with Qdoba.

                                      Luckily, in Reston/Herndon we have a handful of truly good, more authentic places, including a taco truck! Of course this makes it even harder to go to any of the chains. Even Chipotle, which I'll put at top of that list, imo, hasn't had my biz in over a year.

                                      But I'll try it out sometime before too long, just to be fair. Especially b/c of the somewhat consistent recs. Hey - isn't that part of what this site is about?

                                      1. re: Dennis S

                                        I think each of the chain places has at least one thing that they do better than the rest. Qdoba/Zteca actually has a passable mole (given that it's fast-food mole), for example; CalTort has the chicken caesar burrito; and Baja Fresh has (or had--it's been a long time since I've been there) some sort of gigantic super burrito that was perfect if the goal was to consume 6000 calories in one sitting, while Chipotle has perfected the basic fast-food burrito.

                                        This is all completely off-topic for the OP, though. Getting back vaguely on-topic, my vegetarian friends seem to prefer the veggie burrito at Qdoba to the one at Chipotle, if you're in a fast food mood.

                                      2. re: sweth

                                        2nd that to sweth, bring us a La Cumbra, El toro, or Azteca. but it's not just the sauce and that's what seems to be what most vendors don't get.

                                        1. re: hill food

                                          At this point I'd be happy w/ a Rubio's...

                              2. Juice Joint on VT Ave is great for lunch.

                                There's vegetate, Busboys has lots of options, and sticky fingers is ssoooo good.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Jeserf

                                  FWIW, I just had a biz lunch at Juice Joint, and while the dish I had included salmon, the person I was meeting raved about their purely veggie dishes. And it looked like they include Bragg Liquid Aminos as a condiment, which is a pretty good sign of people who understand how to make veggie food more savory.

                                2. I've searched high and low for good restaurant food in DC. Mark's Cafe in Takoma Park has good vegetarian options. However, this may be the time for you to realize that the best food in the DC/Baltimore area is made within your home. I' REALLY TRIED to find vegetarian food that has flavor and is not expensive. Most don't have flavor in the restaurants I visited.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Bibliobella

                                    Try Saran Foods in Arlington on Washington Blvd. down the street from Metro 29 diner. Very cheap. (http://sarancuisine.com/) And the Sunflower Cafe in Vienna and now Falls Church at Seven Corners is wonderful. (http://www.crystalsunflower.com/Menu.htm) I dream about the General Tso's Surprise. Not a fan of Java Green's Jop Chae, but everything else I've had is good. And the Vegetable Garden in Rockville is pretty good. Also Skewers in DuPont has a pretty good selection.

                                  2. I would definitely recommend Ethiopian restaurants as the district has probably the highest concentration in the country. You can search these boards for a number of my reviews of some of the best places but my top three would probably be Etete, Dukem, and Queen Makeda on 9th and U Street and Zed's in Georgetown. If you're looking for the most variety I would go to Dukem and get the special 15 dish Lenten season fasting menu. You might also try the new Abol Ethiopian Restaurant in Silver Spring (http://www.abolethiopiancuisine.com/e...) which got a favorable review in the Washington Post.

                                    As others have mentioned, Indian is a great option. Amma's Vegetarian in Georgetown has DC's best southern Indian food. I am a regular there and they have never dissapointed me. Great dosai and lunch specials. Another all vegetarian Indian place is Nirvana on 19th and K. Haven't made it there yet but it gets favorable reviews. For a slightly more upscale atmosphere, try Heritage India in Glover Park or Dupont Circle. My favorite Indian restaurant in the area though, is Passage to India in Bethesda. The restaurant has dishes from each region and while not entirely vegetarian, a majority of the food is vegetarian and/or vegan (including some killer vegan deserts).

                                    Lastly, I would second Java Green as a great place to stop for lunch dowtown. Stick with the korean dishes and you can't go wrong (try also to get a java sampler for a taste of all their mock meats).

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Professor12

                                      Dukem also has the mildest injera I've ever had (usu, gives me a little gas at other places)