The Fast Casual Power Rankings
Your guide to the best (and worst) of DC’s fast casual options.
We live in a glorious age. We have phones that can call a car to take you anywhere, phones that can get you a date, and phones that can take your drunk *ss home after a terrible date. What a time to be alive. Drake and Future were right.
While we can’t confirm this, they may have also been referencing the explosion of fast-casual (“fast-cazh” if you’re a terrible person) restaurant choices in the DC area. And with so many options, we were left with no choice but to rank them. Because these spots are so good, they deserve more than just a ranking. They deserve a power ranking.
The ideal fast casual spot. You can choose a salad, a pita, or a plate, and top it with their many options of sauces, hummus’, and meats, all Mediterranean style. Our favorites are the crazy feta and the braised lamb. Number one on this ranking with a bullet. Locations are all over the area and growing.
The OG GREEEEENZZZZZ spot in DC that is in nearly every neighborhood. So good, so healthy. They switch up the specials on the menu every couple of months but are usually all good to great. Plus, they have names like “Beets Don’t Kale My Vibe.” Did we say the names were a plus? We meant minus. A big minus. But it tastes good, which is what counts.
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If they served nothing but the Nobadeer, their Thanksgiving-inspired sandwich that sadly does not include Ross’ patented Moistmaker, Jettie’s would get a high ranking. But they have so, so much more. All of the salads and sandwiches are winners, especially the turkey options. And they won’t be leaving you hungry, they’re all big enough that you may end up skipping the usual afternoon snack.
Quick pizza is all the rage these days, and this is the best spot to get it. There’s something about watching your pizza go through an oven conveyer belt right in front of your eyes that is powerful. Choose one of their already designed options, or roll your own. With a selection of excellent salads and a gluten-free crust, it has something for everyone, even annoying Becky in your office who thinks sugar is gluten. Side note, don’t get lunch with annoying Becky.
Yes, these are all over the world, burger edition #1. But DC is home to all five of the guys who started this, and is there a better place to get your greasy hangover fix after a late night out? Hot tip that’s so hot you may get arrested for insider trading: the McPherson Square location serves breakfast (basically just the normal menu with an egg on top) and SHAKES. DELICIOUS, DELICIOUS SHAKES.
Yes, these are all over the world, burger edition #2. No, it wasn’t started in DC but that doesn’t make it any less great. You know what to do here.
Vegetarian tacos. Not words that we thought we would want to see together, but we’ve been proven wrong. Our favorite here is the creamy kale and potato taco that comes with pepperjack. They even have an option to throw a fried egg on top during the weekends. If you’re near Georgetown and looking for a quick, healthy, tasty bite to eat, hit this up. But know that the vibe and crowd are the type of people you’d expect to see at a vegetarian taco joint in Georgetown. Wear your big-ass sunglasses to fit in. Yes, inside. Yes, even on a cloudy day.
Philly-style sandwiches (excuse me, hoagies) and salads. It also gets our nod for the best organized menu, with the sandwiches categorized by type of meat. You really can’t go wrong with anything here, but we’re partial to anything with their excellent roast pork.
An ultra-veggie focused place from Jose Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup. Choose a grains base, some sauce, and freshly steamed veggies. Pretty simple, pretty tasty. But also kind of weird. You will probably think to yourself, “what am I eating right now exactly?” The most approrpriate answer: a pile. You’re eating a pile of food. It’s tasty, but that’s what it is. Not looking to just eat veggies? You can also throw some protein on top of your pile.
Slowly expanding to every office-infested neighborhood in the area, this is a good bet if you’re wanting to go the traditional taco route with your lunch moves. Lines will be long. Too long, in our opinion, but if you have a hankering for tacos, stick it out. Or hit it for some breakfast tacos on your way into work. Because starting your day out with breakfast tacos is better than starting your day out without breakfast tacos.
An assembly line of people stuffing all kinds of things into what is basically a giant, somewhat unmanageable sushi roll. Just because it’s huge and cylindrical, doesn’t mean it’s a burrito. Please stop calling it that.