Situated between the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, on traditional unceded land of the Nacotchtank (or Anacostans), Washington DC is diverse, rich in culture, and home to over half a million people. It is also where you can find a number of national monuments and other historical sites like the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House. And if architecture is your thing, you’ll want to check out DC’s oldest neighborhood, Georgetown! Whether exploring the countless shops and restaurants along M street or venturing up the steep, residential hills to see houses built in the 1700s, an afternoon in Georgetown can’t be beat.
Washington DC may be a metropolitan city, but it is also surrounded by beautiful foliage and parks! Plus, it isn’t far from magnificent hiking trails through places like the Appalachian Mountains; it’s really the best of both worlds! Though DC is a lovely place to be all year round, we recommend visiting in the springtime to see and smell the cherry blossom trees along the Tidal Basin.
Through projects like Sustainable DC, the city has also shown its dedication to developing sustainable norms for its community. Whether in regard to energy, health, education, food, and more sectors of the DC community, Sustainable DC’s commitment and efforts to improve life for current and future DC residents and visitors is clear.
And what’s more? Besides being the capital of the US and a central hub for government and politics, DC also offers an incredible plant-based food scene with a notably wide range of cuisines to choose from! Whether you call DC home or are just in for a visit, you won’t regret checking out these vegan-friendly spots.
Cuisine: Healthy, brunch, American
Fruitive has everything from waffles, toasts, and smoothies with superfoods to pizza, sandwiches and even more. Their menu items are made from scratch using single, organic, in-house ingredients, and they also use eco-friendly packaging. Stop by their City Center location to check out their fully plant-based menu; with a plethora of fresh, flavorful dishes, it won’t take long at all to find whatever it is you may have a taste for. Try the Cacao Pow Superberry Bowl or the Iron Berry Smoothie for some fresh Fruitive fruit action, or you can check out one of their wraps, pizzas, or even a calzone for something a bit more savory. And if you need to make your visit to Fruitive a quick one, their bakery items and overnight oats are perfect options to grab on the go!
Cuisine: Eastern European
With empowerment, sustainability, and wellness at its core, sPACYcLOUD isn’t your traditional vegan spot. This immigrant and woman owned and operated Adams Morgan lounge is a restaurant and bar meets skate shop meets art gallery meets entertainment space meets community hub… the list goes on! The energy there is eclectic and inviting, and the food is just heavenly. If you like mushrooms, you absolutely must try something from their Mushroom Experience menu. The Mushroom Potato Soup and the Portobello Steak Burger are some of our favorites! Mushrooms aren’t the only star of the show when it comes to sPACYcLOUD’s dishes. The Veggiewurst, Peasant Potatoes, and Vareniki and Pelmeni Dumplings are spectacular (especially if you like potatoes), and their take on Fish and Chips is strikingly realistic. sPACYcLOUD also has an extensive drink menu featuring unique cocktails and European wines, beers, and more. We suggest you check out their outdoor patio when it’s warm enough, or dine by their cozy fireplace during the colder months. With live music and event nights, skateboarding and longboarding lessons, daily showcasings of women entrepreneurs and, of course, the incredible food, the sPACYcLOUD experience will be the cherry on top of anyone’s visit to DC.
Cuisine: Italian American, fine-casual
Located in Dupont Circle, DC Vegan is the place to go for traditional veganized Italian food. The owners and staff are known for being some of the kindest people you’ll meet, the menu makes it oh-so easy for those with allergies to order, and the dishes are exciting, creative, and most importantly delicious! Start with the King Trumpet Calamari, Potato Skins, or the Fries Italiano, and enjoy the Philly Jackfruit sandwich or any of their bowls with a side of Wedding Soup. You can also check out their ample bar menu featuring everything from fun and original cocktails to classic Italian wines– they even offer some seasonal vintage selections! With a relaxing and casual main dining area as well as their stunningly swanky Botanical Bar (which never fails to give the dining experience a little something extra), DC Vegan is perfect for any and every occasion.
Sticky Fingers Diner / Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats
Cuisine: Diner, baked goods
Whether you just need a little something sweet or are seeking out a scrumptiously delightful meal, look no further than Sticky Fingers! What started as a bakery and soon opened a full-service restaurant, Sticky Fingers is every plant-based person’s dream. Nestled in Columbia Heights, Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats is the sweeter half of H Street’s Sticky Fingers Diner (though a visit to either spot will fill your tummy and heart with delight). When it comes to their breakfast and brunch foods, we would be remiss if we didn’t recommend the French Toast Sticks, Blueberry Pancakes, Seitan and Waffles, or the Arugula Shroom Croissant. And our mouths are watering just thinking about bakery items like their chocolate croissant, sticky bun, danish, and challah. Dishes like the Burrata starter, the Chickpea Steak Platter, and the BBQ Sandwich are also fantastic choices and, if your dining experience needs something a little extra, check out the Plant Based Charcuterie Board! Beyond their yummy diner food, you’ll want to try at least a treat or two from Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats. Freshly baked each day are a wide array of cookies, cupcakes, and more. The bakery’s founder, Doron Petersan, even won the Food Network’s ‘Cupcake Wars’ not only once, but twice! 100% vegan and 0% dull, the flavors at Sticky Fingers are creatively combined to make some of the tastiest baked goods and diner food around.
Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in DC
These restaurants aren’t vegan, but they deserve an honorary mention for going out of their way to cater to vegan customers. We include vegan-friendly restaurants where we can in hopes these businesses will learn just how valuable having vegan menu items is. Here are our top picks for vegan-friendly restaurants in Washington, DC!
Busboys and Poets
Cuisine: American, casual, comfort
If it’s not on your radar already, pause for a moment and put Busboys and Poets at the top of your Places-To-Go-In-DC list. This locally owned restaurant and bar is more than just that: Busboys and Poets is a space for communities to come together and inspire one another through art, activism, and of course, phenomenal food. As you step inside, you can browse their bookstore section that intentionally features books and authors who have contributed to important discussions about social issues. To take their commitment to continuing these conversations to the next level, Busboys and Poets is also a performance venue for authors, poets, speakers, and countless other events! Aside from social progressivism, one of Busboys and Poets core values is sustainability. They serve primarily fair trade and organic products, they are a Humane society “Seal Protector,” they source locally whenever possible, and they even use 100% renewable wind energy (among numerous other sustainable practices)! They are incredibly transparent about their sustainability goals and actions, and we love that supporting them means supporting a business that genuinely cares. So, next time you are in the area, do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on experiencing the outstanding food and one-of-a-kind atmosphere at Busboys and Poets. Circling back to the food though… While the menu isn’t solely vegan, they offer so many plant-based dishes here that it may even be hard to decide what to get (which we know all too well can be a rare occurrence for vegans dining with their non-vegan friends and family). We recommend Vegan “Egg” Wrap or Scramble if you stop by for brunch, especially when ordered with one of their unique coffees. And if you go a bit later in the day, try the Tomato Soup or the Harira Soup to start, and you won’t regret ordering the Vegan “Tuna” Salad sandwich, either of their paninis, or the Vegan Lover’s Pasta. You can’t really go wrong if something else on the menu catches your eye, though, and whether you are vegan or not, Busboys and Poets is truly the place to be!
When in DC, dining at Takara 14 is an experience no one should pass up! Fittingly on 14th street in Logan Circle, Takara 14 is situated just up a flight of beautifully painted rainbow stairs on the second floor of The Bentley Apartments. The atmosphere inside feels elegant in a warm and inviting way, and the decor in the restaurant is just as colorful and fun as the staircase up! Although it isn’t a vegan restaurant, they offer delicious vegan dishes and have chefs and wait staff who go out of their way to accommodate dietary restrictions their guests may have. They have a plethora of creative cocktails and drinks, and their mushroom dishes are fantastic. As for main courses, the Vegetable Yaki Udon is the star of the show; we cannot recommend this incredibly flavorful dish enough! Whether celebrating a birthday, having a date-night, or grabbing dinner with family or friends, the entire Takara 14 experience is one-of-a-kind.
Cuisine: Smoothies, juices, snacks, casual
If you are looking for the best smoothies and smoothie bowls in the area (and possibly the world), look no further than South Block. This locally owned spot is known for their acai bowls, (though their ‘Not Acai Bowls’ are outstanding too), and they use only organic, fair trade acai sourced from a small acai farm in the rainforest that fights against deforestation and pays their employees fairly. Their extensive menu features fresh fruit smoothies, bowls, juices and more, and they have locations all around the DC area! If you have a taste for something fresh and fruity, we strongly recommend the Green Bowl, the Aloha Bowl, or the Warrior Bowl. And if you’re looking for something a little more sweet, the Loaded PBJ Bowl and the Evolution Bowl won’t disappoint. South Block lets you craft-your-own smoothie bowls too! Be sure to check out their unique seasonal menus, their wide array of cold-pressed juices, and if you have a furry friend, their Puppy Smoothie Bowl is sure to make your pup’s day.
Cuisine: Healthy, fresh, casual, quick
A visit to Flower Child will undoubtedly leave you feeling as fulfilled and happy as their bright and colorful atmosphere! No matter your dietary restriction status (or lack thereof), we are positive that their nourishing, from-scratch dishes will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Flower Child also uses fresh ingredients that are locally sourced whenever possible, which we are all about! Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free, their menu is clearly labeled to show which dishes meet your dietary needs. They also offer rotating kombucha on-tap as well as seasonal lemonade, so if you love to try unique drinks, this is the place for you! As for food, the Avocado Hummus starter is a wonderful way to start off your Flower Child experience. To follow, we recommend the Mother Earth Bowl or the Ginger Miso Crunch salad. Their side of Butternut Squash “Risotto” is simply delicious, too! Flower Child is a splendid choice regardless if you are dining in or ordering out, and any dish you choose will leave you feeling great inside and out.
Baked ‘n Wired
When in Georgetown, stopping by Baked ‘n Wired is a must. While this family bakery is not strictly plant-based, their vegan cookies ‘n cream ‘cakecup’ is a favorite for vegans and nonvegans alike. Its chocolate cake is rich, fluffy, and not too sweet, and it’s topped with a scrumptiously sweet oreo frosting. Baked ‘n Wired also has fantastic packaged goodies that make for perfect snacks on the go or even household staples! We highly recommend grabbing a bag of Hippie Crack (aka their locally made granola). Vegan or not, Baked ‘n Wired will not disappoint and will surely satisfy any sweet tooth it encounters.
Sophie Friedland recently graduated from Chapman University where she studied Integrated Educational Studies with minors in Environmental Studies and Language & Literacy. She has been vegan for almost seven years and is passionate about living as realistically ethical and sustainable as possible. When Sophie isn’t writing or checking out the plant-based food scene of the Chicagoland area, she spends her days working with kids in classroom and outdoor settings and caring for pets throughout her community.
Sophie loves learning about and exploring new places, and she thrives outside! In her free time, Sophie can be found running, climbing, and listening to podcasts as she strolls along the shores of Lake Michigan while searching for sea glass. She also enjoys creating art! While clay is perhaps her favorite medium to work with, she also paints, draws, and attempts turning her song mash-up combination ideas into a reality.