The Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in DC
From cold-pressed juices to hearty vegan soul food, these are the best plant-based spots in DC.
From Ethiopian split peas to South Indian dosas and soul food, DC restaurants have always saved room for vegetarians. But the city’s meat-centric restaurants that once defined the area’s dining scene now face more competition from mushrooming plant-based options helmed by some of the city’s best-known chefs. So whether you’re in search of a quick veggie-centric lunch or want to go all out at a vegan tasting menu restaurant, we’ve got you covered with 19 of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in DC.
This vegan donut shop from Shawn Petersen and Nicole Dao has been drawing lines by the dozen since it first debuted last year. Options range from classic flavors like Boston cream to more inventive flavors that rotate daily, but no matter what you choose, it’ll be worth the wait.
A fixture of late-night eating in the city, Amsterdam Falafelshop offers pita sandwiches and bowls stuffed with the shop’s namesake falafel. Pick your base and then load it up with your choice of 22 different toppings and sauces.
José Andrés’ vegetable-based fast-casual concept offers build-your-own bowls with steamed veggies, grains, fresh toppings, and decadent sauces. In addition, the shop offers burgers with beets, beefsteak tomatoes, and other vegetarian options as the main event, salads, and vegan soup and gazpacho.
Busboys and Poets
This DC institution may be known for its quirky bookstore and open-mic nights and other events, but the all-day cafe is known among vegans and vegetarians as an extremely veggie-friendly option. All nine locations around the District offer options like vegan pastas, soy protein burgers, and flatbreads topped with vegan pepperoni and mozzarella.
What started as a stalwart at local farmers’ markets grew into an ever-popular brick-and-mortar space in a Georgetown carriage house. Now with three locations around the city, the vegetarian taqueria serves tacos with seasonally fresh vegetables—including braised mushrooms with feta, creamy kale, and potato and sweet potato hash—and the shop has expanded its offerings to include vegetarian enchiladas and quesadillas.
We’d be remiss if this list left out Ethiopian restaurants, most of which offer a host of options for vegans and vegetarians alike. An integral part of DC’s dining scene for more than 50 years, Chercher’s vegetarian options include split peas, lentils, and a vegetarian deluxe option with 10 veggie dishes to scoop up with injera at the Shaw or Bethesda location.
Elizabeth's Gone Raw
This Friday- and Saturday-only vegan dining experience offers a tasting menu experience like nothing you’ve tried before. The intimate space in a gorgeous 19th-century townhouse was opened in 2009 by owner Elizabeth Petty. Since then, she’s been serving six courses of thoughtful and out-of-the-box dishes that are all planted-based (and mostly raw).
The James Beard Award-winning chefs behind Philadelphia’s acclaimed Vedge restaurant made their DC debut in 2019 with Fancy Radish, popular among plant-eaters and carnivores alike. The takeout and delivery menus deliver inventive takes on meat and dairy dishes, such as rutabaga fondue and pastrami-spiced carrots.
How to order: Get takeout or delivery.
Chef-owner Doron Petersan and her team make almost everything on-site at this veggie-friendly diner, bakery, and bar, from the bread and pastas to the nut-based “cheeses.” In addition to its all-day breakfast items, sandwiches, and salads, the restaurant offers assorted pastries—and you know they’re good because this team is also behind the longstanding Columbia Heights bakery, Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats.
The eco-friendly vegetarian fast-casual spot started in Virginia Beach before making its way to City Center five years ago. Now with two locations in the District, it’s a go-to spot for cold-pressed juices, hearty toasts topped with nut butter and fruit or avocado, and superfood-laden berry bowls.
This Philadelphia transplant now has two locations in DC and remains committed to using 100% organic, non-GMO ingredients. Dig into delicious riffs on your favorite meat-based fast food items including plant burgers, chicken sandwiches, and chicken nuggets—and save room for soy milkshakes with monthly rotating flavors.
Formerly Woodland’s Vegan Bistro, Nu Vegan Café now operates three locations in greater DC and one in Richmond. Expect hearty vegan dishes like lasagna, mac ‘n cheese, and a black bean burger, along with vegan salads, sandwiches, and juices.
This plant-centric restaurant from Max Kuller and Rob Rubba has one of the most epic tasting menus in town. The menu changes with the seasons to showcase mid-Atlantic farm produce and locally foraged mushrooms and runs at $85 per person with the option to tack on a responsibly sourced wine pairing for $55. As the name refers to both the mushroom and the Chesapeake bivalve, you can opt for a fully vegetarian menu or allow the chef to throw in some oyster for a pescatarian (or as they like to call it “oystertarian”) menu.
The rapidly growing fast-casual restaurant from Spike Mendelsohn now has seven locations inside Whole Foods throughout Maryland, DC, and Virginia. From Beyond burgers and chik’n sandwiches to decadent milkshakes spun with oat milk soft serve, this spot has everything you’d want in a burger joint—just without the meat.
The six-year-old, fast-casual Asian restaurant went vegetarian in 2019 to see if it had enough support for a meatless menu and, sure enough, it did. You’ll find plant-based versions of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean dishes—including egg rolls stuffed with pineapple kimchi, Taiwanese fried cashew mozzarella, and sweet and sour pork made with seitan.
A Middle Eastern-inspired, vegetable-focused restaurant, Shouk serves pita sandwiches stuffed with mushrooms, eggplant, and falafel, as well as plant-based salads and soups. Even the labneh, a traditional Lebanese dairy spread, is made from fermented cashews, so you can trust all of your favorites are covered here.
Located in an old rowhouse by the 9:30 Club, Thai X-ing’s menu considers vegetarians every step of the way. Order chef and owner Taw Vigsittaboot‘s celebrated vegan pumpkin curry, veggie fried rice, or Pad Thai, and you’re in for a plant-based wonder of Thai dishes.
Gobi manchurian, vegetable rice, and 10 types of dosas satisfy vegetarian customers of the casual Indian restaurant by chef Swarn Singh. With a mission to show that “vegetarian and vegan fare can be flavorful and satisfying,” the sharable menu also includes dessert options like halwa made with beets and rasmalai, a creamy Indian cheesecake.