I can not tell you how many restaurants Andrew and I have walked into and walked out of because I’ve been overwhelmed or frustrated by a menu. Very few restaurants (at least in DC) have a vegan option readily available and as a new vegan it felt nearly impossible to eat out without causing a ruckus and getting the entire kitchen staff involved in my dinner.
Fast forward a few years and eating out definitely still has its challenges, but I’ve learned to navigate a menu and in most cases put together a few meals myself that the kitchen couldn’t refuse (and in some cases have added to their repertoires). Restaurants are usually more than willing to accommodate the customer so don’t be put off to ask questions about an item’s preparation or ingredients.
If you do find yourself without a clue as to what to order (and you’re much hungrier than a garden salad) I recommend you skip to the sandwich section of the menu. Most breads are prepared without dairy, so pick a bread and scope out the menu for additional ingredients to add to it. I like to look at the salads and pick out produce that I think will pair well. In every situation, in DC and across the country, the kitchen has been more than willing to put a unique veggie-wich together for me.
Washington, DC’s top vegan friendly sandwiches:
SUNdeVich is not only one of my favorite sandwich shops in DC, but by far one of my favorite places. Located on a small alley off of 9th St., this hidden gem boasts unique flavors, fresh and vibrant ingredients, massive portions, and literally, something for everyone. You can grab your sandwich to stay or go, douse it in Siracha and call it a day well spent. SUNdeVich has mostly meat heavy sandwiches, but their Cairo is inherently vegan, packed to the brink with vinegar laden vegetables, fresh herbs, hummus and crunchy walnuts. They also offer salads and small sides of the brined vegetables and hummus with baguette. Andrew and I like to stop in after long weekend runs, you’ll most likely catch us on a Saturday afternoon.
Jetties is the perfect spot to sit outside on a sunny weekend. This sandwich shop is located right outside of Georgetown and has an incredible laid back New England vibe. Jetties offers a wide array of traditional sandwiches and salads in addition to a make-your-own menu + massive portions that will leave you full for hours. On their make-your-own menu the customer is able to customize a sandwich or salad to their liking. They have plenty of fresh and vibrant vegetables so making a vegan friendly option is no problem. I always go with the Sconset (without muenster cheese or carrots). They put a special sauce on their sprouts that makes this sandwich a must have. Again, you’ll probably run into Andrew and me here on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Circa has a few locations throughout DC and Virginia, we usually frequent the one in Dupont Circle. It’s a great restaurant to sit outside, people watch and catch up with friends. Circa does have a vegan hummus appetizer as well as a garden salad, but if you are looking for something a bit more substantial, this is a great example of how to work with the menu to develop something you’ll enjoy. Knowing that Circa offered a hummus plate and has an extensive salad selection, I was able to chat with my waiter and develop a sandwich from those ingredients that was actually really delicious, vibrant, filling and healthy!
J. Paul’s is a great family friendly bar and restaurant right on M St. in Georgetown with a fun and casual ambiance. They are known best for their seafood, crab cakes, oysters and great cornbread but unfortunately don’t have anything remotely vegan on their menu. Like Circa, J. Paul’s does have an extensive sandwich and salad selection. Working with my waitress and the kitchen, we were able to develop a sandwich that was not only vegan, but so flavorful. J. Paul’s named the sandwich the VEGAN-wich and are considering adding it to their menu.