DCGuide

Where To Go With A Vegetarian When You Aren't One

Where to have no meat or eat some.
Where To Go With A Vegetarian When You Aren't One image

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

We’ve all been there. You’ve set the dinner date with your favorite vegetarian (hi, Mom) and y’all have spent a week arguing over text about what restaurant to go to where you can have some meat, but they aren’t stuck eating a salad and fries for dinner. While there are great vegetarian restaurants in DC, there are also restaurants that won’t leave one of you awkwardly poking at your plate and counting the seconds until you can go get some real food.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

Japanese

Dupont Circle

$$$$Perfect For:Outdoor/Patio SituationBig Groups
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There are a few spots where you can get good sushi for both pescatarians and vegetarians—but Tokyo Pearl is the most fun. The Dupont Circle restaurant has two entrances, one on 18th St. that brings you into a garden wonderland with swing chairs and butterflies, and another on Connecticut Ave. that takes you into the graffiti-covered nightclub (which doesn’t really open until 10pm). Grab a space for your crew on the year-round patio and order the tempura sweet potato roll for the meat-free half and the Ol' Bae, a crab-based roll, for those craving raw fish.

Small plates restaurants are always a great choice when you’re trying to meet a bunch of dietary requirements, and the Spanish tapas at Boqueria are some of our favorites in the city. The crispy patatas bravas and crunchy pan con tomate are easy picks to satisfy the whole table. The patio is poppin, even on cool days thanks to the heat lamps, and there’s plenty of space for groups inside the casual Dupont Circle spot.

The brunch menu at Halfsmoke in Shaw lasts all day, every day, and their Cash App Me dish—cinnamon toast crunch-flavored french toast—is the best thing on the menu. And also happens to be vegetarian. The American restaurant is a '90s kid’s dream, so spend an afternoon playing throwback board games, surrounded by metal lunch boxes and VHS tapes. Grab a futon table, if you can, so ya’ll can stretch out while you stuff yourself on the fantastic food. If you’re getting down with meat, order the Classy But Ratchet (steak and eggs).

Bar menus can be tough with vegetarians because it’s all wings and burgers. And while Walter’s Sports Bar does have wings and burgers, there are also a bunch of vegetarian bar bites on the Navy Yard spot’s menu that are miles better than a plate of soggy fries. Pregame the Nats or watch your favorite sporting events alongside the “Ashville” hot cauli—a fried slab of cauliflower that gives all the meatiness of a juicy burger with none of the cow. There are self-serve taps all around the place, plus a full bar if you want liquor and outdoor seating that also has televisions.

When in doubt: pizza. Everyone gets their own pie and can top it however they want. In DC, our go-to is 2Amys in Cathedral Heights. The bright Neapolitan spot is always bustling with families and friends laughing over bottles of wine and perfectly charred pies. The Two Amys—a basic mozzarella and tomato pizza—is an excellent option, and you can add whatever toppings you want (we stick with pepperoni).

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

The food at His & Hers is slamming across the board. It’s a casual neighborhood American spot in Woodridge where the vegetarian appetizers like the crispy fried cauliflower and the cheesy spinach and artichoke dip, are as good as, if not better, than anything with meat. And the Ragin Cajun Pasta, which comes meatless or with chicken, shrimp, or steak (ask them to throw them all three in), is the right balance of soft (pasta) and crunchy (vegetables) with a cheesy sauce and solid seasoning. Everyone will be able to find something that makes them want to happy dance at the table.

All you need to know about Letena, a warm, friendly place in Columbia Heights, is that the vegetarian sampler is the best thing on the menu. Not only is the portion big enough to split, but the colorful lentils, beets, and tomatoes are some of the freshest you’ll find at an Ethiopian spot in DC. But if you absolutely must bring some extra protein to the table, the juicy beef tibs are the way to go. Toss in a few cups of honey wine and their silky tiramisu too.

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