What to Eat In The DMV: Plant Based Eats
I’ve been a fan of CAVA since they first began to pop up in the DMV area while I was in high school. Over the last few years, the chain has expanded to beyond the DMV area, so my NJ folks can enjoy this one too.
CAVA is a line style restaurant that allows you to mix and match a customized Mediterranean style bowl. If you looking for good food that’s prepared fast and economical I highly suggest CAVA.
What I typically get in my bowl - super greens, brown rice, lentils, falafel or roasted vegetables, all the toppings that don’t have dairy except the chips and mint.
This restaurant is based on an alkaline based diet but not center around solely meat/dairy free options. They have options for any diet which makes it a great lunch/brunch spot. The restaurant has a great atmosphere and the service was fair. I order 3 courses because I wanted to get a full taste of the menu and was really happy with my appetizer and dessert, but I will say that my pesto pizza was disappointing.
What I Ate -
harissa tahini, medjool date, dill, mint, pistachio
Probably the best thing I order! The combination of dates, tahini, and dill.... whew. So good!
Organic Tuscan Kale
lemon, garlic, breadcrumb ORDER WITH NO CHEESE
A tradition kale salad, I enjoy the flavor combination of lemon and garlic so to me it was exactly what I expected. Really tasty.
Grilled Artichoke & Pesto
artichoke, spinach, summer squash, black walnut pesto, lemon, aleppo chili, vegan almond ricotta
I was really excited to give this a try because I really enjoy the combination of pesto and artichoke. Unfortunately, the pizza was so oily that it lost the flavor combination. It was very flat and one dimensional in my opinion.
Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp
coconut ice cream, strawberry and rhubarb filling, crisp topping
Probably one of the most refreshing and light summer dessert. The combination of subtle coconut ice cream and berries was amazing.
A great breakfast/brunch spot that had options for a standard diet and plant-based diet. I’ve been to both locations in Montgomery County, and the service at the Rockville location is a lot better than the service at the Muddy Branch location.
I usually get savory foods because I love a savory breakfast. The avocado toast with potatoes or spring greens is my usual go to. If you’re looking for something on the sweeter side I suggest an açaí bowl!
Oyamel Cocina Mexican
I typically think the best type of cuisine to appease both plant-based and standard diet eaters is Mexican food. If you’re in the china town or Penn quarter area in DC I’d recommend Oyamel Cocina Mexican restaurant. While my partner's brother and his girlfriend were visiting the city we met up with them to enjoy some good food, and of course, a good margarita. The atmosphere was nice even though I’m pretty sure the host intentionally gave us the worst seats in the restaurant, but that’s another post for another day.
The restaurant is a small plate, similar to tapas, style restaurant so I order two dishes just to be safe.
Machuco relleno de frijól con salsa negra -
Plantain and butternut squash fritters stuffed with black beans and served with a chipotle chile and piloncillo sugar sauce
This was such a great combination of savory with a touch of sweet. I wasn’t a huge fan of the chipotle chile and piloncillo sugar sauce, so I opted for the house salsa and mixed it with their habanero hot sauce.
Nopal asado con salsa molcajete -
Grilled fresh cactus paddles served with a salsa molcajete of grilled tomatoes, tomatillos, green onions, cilantro and green chiles
I’ve had cactus before and it reminded me of okra due to its slimy texture. I wanted to give it another try to see if I enjoyed it grilled more than fried. The flavor profiles of this dish were spot on, the salsa mixed with the grilled flavors made it worthwhile. I will say that if you’re selective about food textures and don’t enjoy slimy textures then I wouldn’t suggest this dish.
The house habanero hot sauce deserves its own praise. I consider myself a hot sauce and margarita connisur. I’ve traveled all over and I judge Mexican restaurants off of their margaritas and hot sauces.
If you enjoy spice, heat and a touch of pain from your hot sauce then you have to add this sauce (sparingly) to your meal!
I love Indian food! After living above a vegetarian Indian restaurant in South Africa for 5 months it’s safe to say Indian food is on my top 3 best cuisine list. There are a few Tandoori Nights locations across the DMV, I’ve visited the Gaithersburg and Bethesda locations. The food is good and the portions are decently sized. They also have a lunch buffet w a few plant-based option. This restaurant has both plant-based and meat options.
What I ate: vegetable biryani, chana masala, yellow daal
If you’re looking for a cute restaurant with good drinks and good food I’d suggest Nada. It’s located in Pike&Rose in Rockville, MD so it’s a cute spot for a day date. There were two vegan options and a few vegetarian options that you can modify to make vegan. The habanero salsa and cauliflower tacos are a must!
What I ate: 3 street tacos - caramelized cauliflower, fried tofu and crispy kale + mushrooms. Sweet chili glazed potatoes. Rice + Beans.
A create your own pizza shop that started in the DMV but has locations in other cities now. The pizza is bomb if you know how to have balance with your toppings. For toppings they also offer a e vegan cheese and sausage option. I usually switch up the toppings when I visit but two things that are constant, the spicy tomato sauce and chili oil + honey as the final toping. Yes, honey on the pizza is a game changer.
Some of my personal favorite toppings - spinach, broccoli, chickpeas, vegan cheese, banana peppers, pickled onions, and olives
If you’re looking for something a bit more casual with great food Moby Dick is a great option. They specialize in Persian and Mediterranean cuisine, with a ton of locations across the DMV area. I’ve been eating Moby Dick years before I was living a plant-based diet so I can say that both there meat and plant-based options are full of flavor with good portion sizes.
What I ate: Falafel and hummus, Veggie kabobs, the Veggie platter.
I love tacos and burritos and have found Mexican and Tex-Mex food to be great options while transitioning to a plant-based diet. If you’re interested in an alternative to Chipotle the DMV and a few parts of California have Cafe Rio! The tortillas are made fresh in front of you and they serve their burritos ‘enchilada’ style which is a total game changer.
What I ate: Veggie Burrito w no cheese, topped with tomatillo. Pinto and Black bean Tacos.