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Best restaurants for vegetarians and vegans photo
(Elizabeth's Gone Raw; Scott Suchman for The Washington Post)

Best restaurants for vegetarians and vegans

Lavanya Ramanathan and Justin Rude  |  Updated 01/24/2013

Whether you're in search of meat-free dining or trying to find that Holy Grail of dining -- an eatery that turns out innovative dishes for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike -- these restaurants deliver.



Washington, DC

With a menu packed with vegetarian (and, frequently, vegan) dishes, all clearly marked, this modern Korean restaurant is a find. Highlights include the crispy pan-fried vegetarian mandu (dumplings), which arrive in jade-green wrappers; Korean tacos stuffed with battered tofu and topped with a mountain of peppery cucumber slaw; and gooey kimchee quesadillas. But the real specialty of the house is working with vegetarians; many dishes (including the sizzling dolsot bibimbap) can be made to suit your dietary restrictions.



Washington, DC

Red and yellow lentil purees, cabbage salad and spiced collard greens are highlights of a vegetarian sampler platter that will convert even the most single-minded carnivores.


Elizabeth's Gone Raw

Washington, DC

Imagine it: A tasting menu packed with courses such as zucchini with nut ricotta, pesto and heirloom tomatoes, a curry laced wrap, and stunning desserts -- all of it meat, dairy, and gluten free. Vegetarian and vegan dining is rarely as refined as it is at Elizabeth's Gone Raw, a restaurant that serves up this fever dream just once a week in a cozy downtown townhome; it makes for a great date-night or special-occasion dinner.



Washington, DC

This restaurant offering plenty of ambience near Logan Circle serves small plate after plate of Turkish mezze, including plenty of meat-free options. Tom Sietsema writes: "Vegetarians can graze contentedly here."


Sticky Rice

Washington, DC

You're never stuck eating avocado rolls at Sticky Rice, where a vegetarian and vegan menu offers such brilliant/lowbrow offerings as the deep-fried Garden Balls (vegan rice-and-veggie-stuffed bean curd pockets) and the G.I. Jane (a cucumber and cream-cheese roll dredged in crushed wasabi peas).


Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant

Vienna, VA

This greybeard of the vegetarian restaurant scene has been giving compassionate eaters a reason to drive to Vienna and Falls church for years.


Masala Art

Washington, DC

This Tenleytown hot spot is a fantastic place for omnivores and vegetarians alike to sample refined regional Indian dishes rarely found elsewhere, including perfectly bite-sized pani poori and potatoes studded with dried pomegranate seeds. But vegans will delight in the knowledgeable staff, who are well-versed in directing diners to the restaurant's good number of vegan dishes, including the chickpea curry, hellishly hot eggplant and pepper in sesame-seed sauce and missi roti.



Washington, DC

In this Shaw shop churning out gourmet sandwiches from a converted garage, three of the 11 options are vegetarian (one is vegan), and they are as unusual as they are delicious. The Cairo matches bright house-brined vegetables with hummus, cucumber and walnuts; the Isfahan features a rich souffle of spinach, mushroom, walnuts and barberries (tart red berries popular in Persian cuisine).


Pizzeria Paradiso

Washington, DC

A great casual eatery for both vegans and vegetarians, all the locations of this popular pizzeria offer veggie-laden pizzas and allow diners to substitute Daiya faux cheese on their pies (now in use at several local pizzerias, Daiya is dairy- and soy-free).



Falls Church, VA

This Falls Church Thai restaurant is proof that strip malls can yield hidden gems. Duangrat's menu is packed with meat-free versions of popular Thai dishes, including a lime-scented, briny tofu larb, and vegetarian takes on pad thai and fried rice.


Sticky Fingers Sweets and Eats

Washington, DC

Washington's first vegan bakery offers cakes, cookies, brownies, danishes and a slew of sandwiches, including the popular "tuna" melt. But the Columbia Heights cafe has transformed since 2010 into a full-fledged vegan restaurant, with hearty quesadillas, gooey grilled "cheese" sandwiches, soups and nachos now on the menu. They even do weddings.



Langley Park, MD

Fans of the late, great vegetarian restaurant Udupi will lament the South Indian-themed restaurant's closure in 2010. But its Langley Park neighbor, Tiffin, soldiers on, serving authentic takes on popular vegetarian dishes from Northern and Southern India alongside meat and seafood offerings.


Busboys and Poets

Arlington, VA

This chainlet -- now with four locations, including one in Hyattsville -- is a go-to spot for poetry readings, political activists, and folks who eschew meat, thanks to a memorable, smoky tempeh panini, vegan pizza and other veggie fare.


Loving Hut

Falls Church, VA

One in an international franchise of more than 120 vegan restaurants, Falls Church's storefront excels in the flavors of Southeast Asia. Pho, banh mi and the vermicelli dish known as bun cha gio all are on the menu here, sans beef and sans fish sauce.


The Counter

Reston, VA

Even vegans can experience the local burger boom at the Counter, where the veggie burger patty is vegan (though sadly, the buns are not). Build on it with dozens of toppings -- the online nutritional information clearly notes which items and sauces are vegan -- and don't forget the sweet potato fries or fried pickles.


Dangerously Delicious Pies

Washington, DC

When one gives up animal products, one accepts a few realities: Enchiladas are a thing of the past. Your diet choices will constantly be questioned. And you can kiss hot, buttery pie goodbye (some varieties even come laced with lard). So it's through tears of joy that we nosh on Dangerously Delicious's fruit pies. The shop has quietly been preparing the sweet treats entirely vegan (pies with apple are the only exception); also on the menu is one addictive tofu-curry savory pie, a popular weekend offering.


Woodlands Vegan Bistro

Washington, DC

Overlook the fact that this vegan deli has all the ambience of the co-op you frequented in college; Everlasting Life doles out Thanksgiving-size portions of garlicky soul-food-inspired Southern goodness, from creamy mac and "cheese" to a sweet kale salad to a chicken-fried tofu sandwich slathered in barbecue sauce, all served carryout-style.


Science Club

Washington, DC

This popular bar is also a vegetarian restaurant, offering a slew of options for vegans, too, including tofu skewers, a quinoa-stuffed mushroom, even a vegan brownie on the dessert menu. But the star is the crunchy, house-made, panko-coated veggie burger, which is packed with vegetables, and served with an addictive side salad.


Meridian Pint

Washington, DC

This Columbia Heights bar is known for beer, but on the food menu, surprisingly, lurks great options for vegans: a home-style lentil burger, vegan chili, ginger-glazed tofu, and brunch options including vegan French toast and a tofu scramble. But it makes sense when you realize this is the sister bar to Adams Morgan's Smoke and Barrel, which offers vegan barbecue.


Yuan Fu Vegetarian Restaurant

Rockville, MD

You'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between Yuan Fu's meatless Chinese staples and the real deal. Tea-smoked "goose," five-spice "duck" and General Tso's "chicken" all can be found here.


Nando's Peri-Peri

Washington, DC

The international chain offers vegetarian burgers and pitas that, if you order them without mayonnaise, contain no meat or dairy products. A nice fast-casual option for groups with just a few vegetarians, and convenient to tourist destinations such as the National Portrait Gallery.



+ Multiple Locations

You'd expect a salad restaurant to offer veggies, but this one, with locations across the area, makes some of the most crave-worthy vegan salads around, including the Chic-p, loaded with baked falafel, and the healthy quinoa-packed Sabzi.


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