It’s always been a challenge to eat out as a vegetarian. More people are choosing to go vegetarian as a health, diet or lifestyle choice, and vegetarian restaurants are popping up all over the place. Don’t waste your time eating a limp salad at some chain cafe. Have a real meal at one of the best vegetarian spots in Washington, D.C., and see what everyone’s raving about. - Amy Gardner McNeal
Soul Vegetarian Cafe
2606 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001
This small vegan restaurant, near Howard University, is famous for its soul food menu. Southern-style favorites, like greens and BBQ tofu, are on offer, all completely vegan. The macaroni and cheese is especially beloved, the sandwiches are huge, and it’s all very affordable. The atmosphere is casual, with some seating available both upstairs and down. There is no bar, and utensils are of the carryout variety, but that’s not what sends local vegans to the Soul Cafe. The delicious food, not the ambiance, is what keeps people coming back. Soul Veg also serves a great Sunday brunch. Cash only. Hours: Monday through Saturday, noon to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Busboys and Poets
2021 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
Since 2005, this bookstore/cafe/performance space has been bringing great vegetarian food to the District. The warm and welcoming space has great atmosphere, and there’s always an interesting crowd. While Busboys and Poets doesn’t have an all-vegetarian menu, it does devote a significant amount of thought to serving delicious vegetarian and vegan food, and it shows. The cafe menu offers vegetarian and vegan salads, sandwiches and desserts. It has plenty of seating, even on the weekends. Go for the excellent pizza, and stay for the entertainment. Busboys and Poets also has a full bar, a huge selection of books and daily events, including a Tuesday poetry slam night. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to midnight; Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m to midnight.
1513 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Featuring full-service organic vegan and raw food dining, Cafe Green in Dupont Circle is one the best vegetarian spots in Washington, D.C. The huge menu of sandwiches, salads, soups and entrees covers a variety of taste options and changes seasonally to keep things fresh. Cafe Green also has an extensive list of organic wine, beer and spirits. Gluten-free and special dietary needs choices are also available. The bright, clean atmosphere and friendly service make Cafe Green hard to beat. Don’t forget to save room for dessert here. The raw berry chocolate tart is a local favorite. Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 3 to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.