Thursday, January 17, 2013

Where to Eat: Restaurants that Please Both Meat-Eaters and Vegetarians

I've been a vegetarian for so long that I don't really think about it anymore.  Part of the reason it's second nature now is that it's really quite easy to forego meat in D.C.  The only challenge- and it's a delicious, not particularly difficult challenge- is finding places to dine that satisfy both veggies and meat-eaters alike.  Just like I'd hope my bacon-loving pals wouldn't try to impose their eating habits on me, I would never try to force vegetarianism on my friends with more Ron Swanson-like sensibilities.

Therefore, I've put together a list of some of my favorite spots that are beloved by vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. There are many, many to choose from, but here are my top picks.

District of Pi 

This Penn Quarter joint serves up deep dish and thin crust pizza in a large, airy interior made cozy by exposed brick walls. Though there's a great draft beer selection- there are 24 on tap, including one of my favorites, Founders Breakfast Stout- the pizza is the main draw here. I hear the deep dish with meatballs is not to miss, and vegetarians will be satisfied with the ample and tasty veggie options. You can even order a deep dish vegan pizza if you call ahead of time.


Rasika is a beloved D.C. establishment for many reasons: the attentive but unobtrusive service, the classy decor, the out of this world palak chaat. Kate previously wrote a review of Rasika and said, "The lamb roll was excellent, and the palak chaat -- which is crunchy spinach mixed with a variety of spices and veggies -- was probably one of the most deliciously flavorful dishes I have eaten in a long time. You must order this dish. For our entrees we split the chicken makhani, the chicken tikka masali, the dal malchani, and the kabuli gosht. Each dish came family style with rice and naan. Every dish had incredible flavors."


Equinox is the fanciest spot on this list, and it's perfect for a big date or special occasion. Located downtown, Equinox features regional and seasonal cuisine in an upscale setting, and the menu boasts items like grass-fed beef, lamb, duck, and local seafood in addition to veggie-friendly options like butternut squash soup and pasta (truffled mac and cheese, yes please). If you're vegan, you can still partake in the five course tasting option- just call the restaurant a bit ahead of time and they'll have a five course vegan menu ready for you. 


Good news, insect fans- you no longer have to go to PetSmart to get your grasshopper fix. At Oyamel, you'll find the infamous Chapulines, a Oaxacon specialty of sautéed grasshoppers, shallots, tequila and guacamole. But if the thought of ingesting grasshoppers makes you gag, rest assured that the vast majority of the menu is more standard (and delicious) fare. Like any Mexican restaurant worth its margarita salt, the guac is fantastic, and the small plate servings mean you can try a lot of different items without breaking the bank. Check out one of our earlier posts for lots more details!

Founding Farmers

It makes sense that a restaurant that prides itself on an eco-friendly approach and fresh farm-to-table food would have a menu that appeals to both meat eaters and vegetarians. This lively Foggy Bottom spot is always bustling, making it perfect for a weeknight dinner with friends after a hard day at the office (hey, you can count it as a hard day even if half of it was spent on Twitter). The numerous veggie options are clearly marked and interesting- the Gardener's Pie and Tomato Cider Glazed Meatloaf, for example- and the sandwiches and burgers are surprisingly reasonably priced. The menu is also rife with comfort food like chicken pot pie, meatloaf, and delicious desserts that will send you home happy.

Mellow Mushroom

Like Katie, I love Mellow Mushroom with the fire of a thousand suns. This casual but fun Adams Morgan spot offers ample veggie options from salads to hoagies, but I haven't tried most of them because I can't resist the siren call of the Holy Shiitake Pie, a pizza so delicious that even my bacon-loving friend raved about it weeks after we split one. But Ron Swansonettes, don't worry- there are also plentiful meaty options, from the Mighty Meaty Pizza to the Steak and Cheese Calzone. And though January is generally not a suitable time for outdoor dining (cue your officemate panicking about today's impending snow), the large rooftop overlooking 18th Street is a prime spot to enjoy some delectable food and nice weather.


Zaytinya is a moderately upscale Jose Andres restaurant that serves Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese cuisine, with nearly a full page on the extensive menu featuring vegetarian dishes- many are also vegan or can be made vegan by request. There are, of course, lots of tasty meat options too, like beef tartar and lamb baha. Like Oyamel (also a Jose Andres joint), the plates are small and encourage sharing, so be careful not to fill up on the warm, puffy bread brought out by the attentive servers before the meal- it's deliciously addicting. 


Ethiopian food is another great option for pleasing both veggies and carnivores. I did a round-up of the District's best Ethiopian spots over the summer, but of all those tasty places, my favorite remains Etete. The décor is warm and stylish, and the service is generally very good. Most importantly, the food is top notch, and it remains the standard by which I compare every other Ethiopian establishment. The high quality of the food as well as the restaurant itself means that Etete gets away with slightly higher prices, and its popularity can result in crowds on the weekends; you may want to play it safe with reservations rather than risk a long wait.

Any spots I missed that you think should be included?



  1. Coppi's Organic is one of my faves, but it's under construction until this fall, I think. When it comes back, I'd definitely add it to the list!

    1. I've heard Coppi's is AWESOME but I've never actually been. Lady date when they re-open?