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Vegetarian dining in D.C.

Let me start by putting some baseline qualifications out there.

Too many times a restaurant advertises a ‘vegetarian option’ and that ends up being pasta primavera, portobello mushroom steak, a veggie burger, or even worse: garden salad. I enjoy all of these at times, but for that to be the only ‘option’ for a vegetarian is sad.

On the other end of the spectrum, restaurants don’t need to be 100% vegan or vegetarian in order to earn frequent visits from me.

I look for a restaurant with waiters that know what their dishes contain, and if a dish is or can be made vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free.

All that said, I provide here a list of restaurants in D.C. where vegetarians can eat comfortably.

  • Busboys and Poets: There are a number of locations around town, but all share a range of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options on their menu. I’ve found them good for brunch and for small plates in the evening. Their cozy spaces also include small bookstore areas and coffee bars. 
  • Eat Fare Well: Located on H Street, this spot is great for brunch and more. All plant-based menu, you can even find nut-free, gluten-free and soy-free items on their menu. It’s a small diner experience with a hipster twist, and they also have a very tempting vegan bakery.
  • Equinox: Located downtown near the White House and convenient to Metro, there is also a parking garage right next door. Reservations are a must for the Sunday Vegan Brunch (buffet style). Chef Todd Gray is usually on site, sometimes even running a tofu scramble station himself. On occasion the staff will bring out an amuse-bouche for diners to sample. It’s a true fine dining experience, and it’s all vegan! The rest of the week the menu includes meat, but there are always veg options, and you can select a plant-based tasting menu for dinner.
  • Fancy Radish: I visited the owners’ Philadelphia restaurant, Vedge, and was really excited when they came to D.C. Located on H Street, it’s open for dinner and happy hour only at this point. Reservations are recommended, but they do serve food at the bar. Their menu is ‘medium plates’ meant for sharing. We had a table of four people, and each of us chose two dishes. Even our omnivore friends were stuffed by the end. (added Jan. 15, 2018)
  • Harmony Cafe: On M Street in Georgetown. This is a traditional Chinese restaurant, but they have a full veg menu, and they have been reliable for eat-in or take-out for me for over 15 years. 
  • HipCityVeg: One location in D.C., right across from the Capitol One Arena, which makes it a great (and popular) stop for a quick bite right before a concert or game. This is a tiny fast food counter shop with maybe 15 seats in the restaurant, so it’s great for take-out. IMHO, the best item on the menu is the Crispy HipCity Ranch chick’n sandwich, with a side of sweet potato fries. 
  • NuVegan Cafe: One location in D.C., one in College Park, Maryland. This fast casual restaurant serves all-vegan food and smoothies in a cafeteria/buffet style, or for take-out. Their menu is strong in southern American recipes like grits, fried chick’n, collards, and macaroni and cheese. Sometimes you can find their food truck downtown. I highly recommend the chick’n drummies with jerk sauce.
  • Smoke and Barrel: In the heart of Adams Morgan, D.C. you’ll find this joint. Beer, barbecue, bourbon is their motto and they have great selections of each. Surprisingly, they have great vegan proteins to slather in their spicy sauces. At brunch, they offer vegan French toast, tofu scramble and awesome grits. 
  • Soupergirl: Two locations in D.C., plus appearances at local farmers markets. All plant-based food, mostly soup. That doesn’t mean the menu is only for cold weather, though. There are also cold soups! 
  • Sticky Rice: Located on H Street near lots of fun bars and clubs. Aligned with locations in Baltimore and Richmond. The highlight here is vegan and vegetarian sushi. They also have giant noodle bowls and buckets of tater tots.
photo: Fancy Radish's stuffed avocado

Fancy Radish’s stuffed avocado

Did I miss something? Please post places you’d recommend in the comments, and I’ll update the list down the road.

 

Viewing the skyline / My mind’s eye sees the thresholds / Entering each door

Vegetarian visit to Watkins Glen, NY

I have been wanting to visit the Farm Sanctuary in New York for some time. They rescue and house animals rescued from factory farming. Farm Sanctuary has a few locations, but this is the closest to us, and it happens to be close to Watkins Glen, which is on Seneca Lake, famous for its waterfalls and wineries. Bonus!

Day one

WGlen---9We stayed in the Harbor Hotel, on the water at the southern end of Seneca Lake. It’s a lovely place, beautiful large rooms that look out onto the water, and their restaurant has a vegan menu. We found it a bit overpriced and underspiced, but the service was good, and the convenience was unbeatable. As vegetarians who like to travel, we find ourselves doing a LOT of research before we go anywhere, just to be sure we don’t spend our vacation eating salad and pasta primavera.

After our first dinner in Watkins Glen, we strolled down the main drag, Franklin Street. There wasn’t very far to go before we reached the end of downtown. We enjoyed a stroll by the harbor as well; there’s a quaint pier that looks great in the sunset.

Day two

Harbor Hotel has a vegan breakfast menu, too. We ate lakeside and enjoyed the nice spring weather. (It was June, but in New York state, that’s spring.) Then we drove out to the Farm Sanctuary. It was a lovely drive to get there, over hills and past farms, then down a bit of a dirt road. Definitely use the directions from the sanctuary’s website so you don’t get lost.

There weren’t many other visitors when we went (weekday morning), but there were a few people staying in the cabins on site, and we shared our tour with a couple of families. The guide gave a quick introduction on the sanctuary founding and mission, then shared a video with a history of the sanctuary and some advocacy for animal rights and plant-based diets.

Finally, we were off to visit the animals! First, the cows, then the goats, chickens and turkeys, and finally the pigs. In addition, the sanctuary is home to sheep, a steer, a pair of alpacas, and some barn cats. Our tour guide pointed out the animals most open to interaction and let us know what not to do, and which animals we shouldn’t try to pet. WGlen---110

The whole farm was a delight to visit. Lots of caregivers taking care of the animals and keeping their spaces clean. All the animals are named and have definite personalities. It is clear how dedicated Farm Sanctuary is to giving the animals a comfortable home.

I was particularly moved by a goat whose back legs were weakened by poor nutrition. The team got her a wheel chair of sorts to help support her back legs while she recuperates, and they let her buddy goat stay close.

WGlen---109Sadly we eventually had to leave — I was really eyeing the tiny houses and cabins they have on property where you can stay.

The day was still young after our visit to the farm, so we headed out to see what we could find in the way of wineries. Well, there are wineries, breweries, and distilleries all the way around Seneca Lake, and nearly every one has a great view of the lake from their tasting room. Breweries are more our style, and we found one of those, Grist Iron, which also serves some really good pizza.

We visited another brewery and a couple of wineries, then we headed back to town for Chinese food from House of Hong (they have a separate vegetarian menu), and drinks at the Crooked Rooster.

Day three

We walked down to Glen Mountain Market for breakfast bagels, coffee, and some lunch sandwiches to go. It is on Franklin Street, barely two blocks from our hotel. They offer a number of vegetarian and vegan sandwiches, and they had quite a few gluten free baked goods in their case, too. Great start to the day!WGlen---58

Our mission for the day was to conquer Watkins Glen State Park, a beautiful park full of waterfalls. It’s only a couple of miles but there are something over 600 stairs to get through the glen, so come prepared to move. You will also get very close to the falls, so be prepared to be splashed.

The upper entrance also features a pool, lots of picnic facilities, and a lily pond.

We did some shopping downtown that evening, and after dinner, there was a lighting of the harbor, which included art tents, food tents, and live music lakeside.

WGlen---90

That was the end of our visit, but I do think we’ll go back. There are still dozens of wineries and breweries to visit, and opportunities to travel the lake by boat.

 

Podcasts rock

If you don’t already know, podcasts are short audio programs you can download onto your iPod or smart phone, and listen to at your leisure. Sort of like a DVR/TiVo for audio. Most of them are free downloads, and most smart phones have a built-in app for listening. I encourage you take advantage of these — there is so much wonderful creativity going on with podcasts.

Some are serial in nature, so you’ll want to listen to them in order. Others are self-contained, you can just listen to what sounds interesting. And just like programs on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon — you may find yourself binge-listening to a really good podcast.

I’ve been struck by podcasts that have me either laughing out loud or weeping on the train ride home. Embarrassing, sure. But powerful.

A few I have been enjoying lately :

  • By the Book : Two women take on self-help books. They live two weeks according to the advice of a book, then compare notes on whether it works, how their husbands reacted, and whether they would recommend the book. Funny!
  • Can He Do That? by The Washington Post : A politics and policy explainer to help us understand what the President has the legal right to do. Listen to whatever topics are interesting to you.
  • Crimetown : The story of organized crime in Providence, Rhode Island. Great characters, true stories.
  • Dumb People Town : Three comedians plus a guest examine dumb people that make it into the paper for how idiotic they were. (Often in Florida.)
  • The Grift : True stories about con artists and the lives they ruin. Just ten episodes, but they are riveting!
  • Lore : Lore covers the roots of scary stories. Why is the house haunted? Do people really have a connection with the ethereal world, or with the animal kingdom? Why would people even ask that?
  • Make Me Smart with Kai & Molly : “Because none of us is as smart as all of us.” These two have great banter, and deliver analysis about the economy, technology, and culture. They bring in experts to help explain how what is in the news will affect you.
  • S-Town by This American Life : An Alabama man is certain someone got away with murder. Sure enough someone ends up dead. Another true life story, unfolding bit by bit.
  • Serial by This American Life : An investigation into a true crime. Definitely listen in order. Season one was a huge hit.

Got one to recommend? Lay it on me in the comments!

You never know how well you can swim until the sharks start circling.

 

Pet peeve of the week

Congratulations emails.

These get sent to the whole office so we can all celebrate the birth of a new baby or someone’s promotion. Wonderful, thanks for letting me know! But then…
The whole office, one by one, replies to this group email so that EVERYONE knows how excited they are for the new parent or promoted coworker. Really? We all need to know how you feel?
Please congratulate directly, in person or one-to-one. Because now, the person who just had such a great thing happen to them is related to tons of internal spam in my inbox. Grrrr.

Twenty minutes late to work, due to a Presidential motorcade. #lifeinDC

Most amazing no-bake bites

I am totally hooked on these sweet balls of goodness. Vegan and gluten free, they are yummy for everyone, and it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare. (Plus some time in the refrigerator.)

  • 1 cup dry oats
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup (vegan) chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar or honey
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Dump it all in a big bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed. Spread out, cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. Then roll into balls of 1″ diameter or so, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You’ll get 20-25 balls, and they’ll last in the frig for a week (if you don’t tell anyone they’re there).

Thanks to Jill of paintedhouses.net for the recipe!

Girl on the train

First, I will admit I just saw the movie ‘The Girl on the Train.’ Good flick. So I lifted the title. lily
Today I got my favorite window seat on the train, and a girl sat down next to me. I was pleased. She had a haircut I’ve had in the past. She had earrings I would definitely wear. I liked her handbag, and she impressed me when she pulled out some knitting and whipped out a couple of rows before we got to our mutual destination.
I try to avoid being creepy, so I didn’t share any of my opinions. I really don’t like being trapped into a conversation, so I give my fellow riders the courtesy of being treated as I would like to be treated.
I enjoyed my train ride, feeling as though we were comrades in our journey to work. As we departed the train, I was thinking about saying something — “I like your bag” or “Cool earrings” but then I saw her shoes. White shoes. In February. I almost stopped her to say, “Why have your ruined your outfit, and humiliated yourself?!”
I know it is horrible to judge someone, especially so randomly, but I was raised in the South, where white shoes are only to be worn between Easter and Labor Day. We got new white dresses for Easter, and often shoes to match for Easter services. I rarely show up to church now, even for Easter.
But the shoe thing stuck with me.