Travel Destination: Washington D.C.
There’s a plethora of restaurants in Washington D.C., and so maybe it’s no big shock that many are celiac- and vegan-friendly. However, on my first trip to the nation’s capital, I’m was extremely impressed with my options and the delicious food I enjoyed.
I came to Washington D.C. for a work-related conference, but since I’d never visited before, I decided to stay a few extra nights so I could sightsee. I’m I glad I did! Let me say, if you’ve haven’t visited D.C., there’s a ton to see and do. For example, I took a four-hour walking tour of the National Mall and got to see: The Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, White House, Korean Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, FDR Memorial, MLK Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial… all in one 3-mile-ish route. And that was just one afternoon.
With so much walking (don’t even try driving, the streets and traffic are crazy), it’s a good thing there are so many restaurants to choose from. For gluten-free and planted-based eaters, I found many, many accommodating places. Here are my top three:
Rasoi Indian Kitchen
Rasoi Indian Kitchen could have some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had. Furthermore, Rasoi has an entire section of their menu dedicated to vegan dishes – and all of them are gluten free.
With so many options, I couldn’t decide what I wanted so I ordered almost one of everything. I had:
- Tava Baingan Masala: baby eggplant split and stuffed with tava masala
- Palak Channa: lightly spiced spinach with garbanzo beans
- Amchoori Bhindi: okra tossed with onions and tomatoes, spiced with dry mango powder
- Tarkari Haandi: seasonal vegetables sauteed with cumin & crushed black pepper)
Everything was awesome. As far as sauces go, the tomato curry sauces on the eggplant and the seasonal vegetables were so, so, so tasty. I could have drank it as a soup.
I’ll only note a few things. First, the okra is typically cooked in a shared fryer. However, I asked if they could fry it in a pan instead, and they happily agreed. Second, the garbanzos and spinach dish has a big kick to it so if you don’t like spice, I do not recommend it. It was just bordering being too spicy for me, but I still loved it.
I liked my food so much I went back and a second time and again got extras to take home with me.
Lapis is an Afghani restaurant. As it turns out, Afghani food is quite similar to Indian, but a little different in terms of the spices. Like Rasoi, Lapis has a huge vegetarian selection, of which many are vegan.
And, once again, I didn’t know what to order, so I ordered a bunch. I tried:
- Bamya: whole, fresh okra cooked in a seasoned tomato, garlic, and onion sauce
- Sabzi: fresh spinach sauteed with leeks, onions, garlic, and cilantro
- Samarok: sauteed mixed mushrooms in a garlic and onion sauce
- Dal soup: orange lentils, carrots, and celery
It was all really good, and made for a nice tasting of vegetables. Unfortunately, I ordered delivery and ate it before I thought about snapping any pictures.
Chaia is an all gluten-free, vegetarian taco shop. Almost any dish can be prepared vegan, with the one exception being the creamy kale taco. Otherwise, they have a large variety of tacos, quesadillas, and other delicious sides, snacks, and goodies to choose from. The greatest part is they make the corn tortillas in house using fresh masa meal. This eliminates the risk that the tortillas are cross-contaminated, which you run with most retail tortilla brands.
As far as tacos go, Chaia has so many tempting varieties is hard to choose. Among them are braised mushroom, smoky collard greens, cumin-roasted cauliflower, and roasted butternut squash. I tried the collard greens (without the queso), which is topped with smoked paprika salsa and pickled radish, and the mushroom (without feta) that has salsa rojo and cilantro on it. I opted to have them served in a bowl with the tortillas on the side since I was getting them to go.
I also ordered a side of black beans (without the crema) and two bowls of cauliflower soup. Why two bowls? Because, trust me, one bowl of this creamy and delicious soup is just not enough.
Overall, I really loved everything. The collards were super garlicly with a bit of a kick, and the different salsas added a nice fresh element to balance the meal out. They also top tacos with sprouts for an additional crunch. I can’t say enough great things. If you’re visiting D.C., Chaia is a must!
Since my D.C. to-do list remains long, I’m already looking forward to my next trip. (And that includes tying out other restaurants, too.)