Capital cuisine: best vegan restaurants in Washington, DC

The District is full of plant-based food if you know where to look. In the country’s Capital, you’ll find everything from vegan-friendly pizza, hearty salads, decadent pastries, and upscale seven-course meals. Eating vegan food is anything but boring in the DMV. If you’re a meatless eater, you won’t want to miss these eight vegan restaurants in Washington, DC.

A white bowl sits on white marble counter; it's filled with a rich, reddish-brown, plant-based chili, which is topped with pumpkin seeds and a zig-zag of a creamy sauce.
Fruitive has two locations in DC, and both are certified USDA organic @ Lola Mendez / Lonely Planet

Fruitive

For 100 percent plant-based, fast-casual dining, drop into one of the two Fruitive DC locations, Dupont Circle or CityCenterDC. The healthy-eating institution is certified USDA organic and has an ample selection of certified Kosher items, including cold-pressed juices and coffee. You can refuel here on superfood smoothie bowls, delicious avocado toast, hearty soups, veggie tacos, and gigantic salads – all made from scratch. Fruitive is also ocean-friendly and dedicated to using eco-friendly utensils, packaging, and cups.

Calabash

There’s no better spot in DC for a soul-warming tea than Calabash. In addition to family recipes for medicinal teas and elixirs, this holistic veggie joint also serves an array of Jamaican-inspired vegan dishes including chickpea curry, faux BLT sandwiches, patties, and delicious baked goods such as pies, breads and cookies. The original location is in Shaw but don’t miss the new Brookland location for its beautiful ambience created with furnishings from across the African diaspora. Sunyatta, the 5th-generation herbalist and self-declared witch who is the mastermind behind this healing haven, keeps an urban garden of herbs and flowers on the tea shop’s terrace which she uses to make fresh concoctions daily. 

A cupcake with a generous swirl of icing sits on a white plate; underneath is a light blue tablecloth with a pink and black abstract pattern.
The owner of Sticky Fingers Bakery has won Cupcake Wars twice! @ Lola Mendez / Lonely Planet

Sticky Fingers Bakery

When that sweet-toothed craving hits there’s no choice but to head up to Columbia Heights to indulge in a few treats at Sticky Fingers Bakery. After all, owner Doron Petersan has won the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars twice! The fully vegan bakery has been open since 1999, serving decadent sticky bun cinnamon rolls, muffins, donuts, cookies, brownies, and even full-sized cakes in unique and seasonal flavors. They also rotate a charity cupcake to support local organizations that are improving the community. While they're known for their sweets, you won’t want to miss out on the savory dishes including dairy-free macaroni and cheese and an alt-tuna melt made from chickpeas.

Fare Well

Doron Petersan has expanded her expertise in vegan comfort food at Fare Well in the H St corridor. The sibling eatery to Sticky Fingers Bakery is a diner with all-day breakfasts and a completely plant-based menu. The pancakes are a fan favorite and change with the seasons. The vegan burrata is an absolute must if you’re a vegan who misses cheese. The offerings here cover all the diner classics including burgers, fries, and milkshakes, all whipped up using plants.

A gray slate, being used as a plate, sits on a dark wooden table; on the slate is a chunk of golden brown bread, a metal ramekin filled with crudités, and an earthenware bowl filled with molten vegan cheese, garnished with green herbs.
The nut-free rutabaga dish at Fancy Radish will fulfill your fondue fantasies @ Lola Mendez / Lonely Planet

Fancy Radish

The Philly-based restaurateurs and James Beard award–winning chefs behind Vedge have brought their vegetable-forward dishes to DC at Fancy Radish in the H St corridor. The menu gets creative with standard veggies to make extraordinary dishes such as nut-free rutabaga fondue, zesty dan dan noodles topped with mushrooms, and farm-fresh cocktails. The seasonal menu is beloved by all – even carnivores seek out the memorable dishes here.

Elizabeth’s Gone Raw

Fancy an upscale vegan dining experience? Make a reservation for the seven-course extravaganza on Friday or Saturday evening at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw in Thomas Circle. Upon arriving at the historic townhouse, you’ll be offered kale chips and expertly crafted cocktails before entering the gorgeous dining room decorated to give a French ambience, complete with wall-sized portraits and brocade rugs on the floors. The tasting menu includes small bites of health-forward food created with mostly-local, 100 percent organic ingredients. The superb dishes rotate with the season and a wine pairing is available at an additional cost.

A cardboard box with "Shouk" printed on the front has a pita inside; it's stuffed with vegan ingredients such a mushrooms and green leaves.
You'll be shook when you taste Shouk's mushroom shawarma @ Lola Mendez / Lonely Planet

Shouk

Falafel is a staple for plant-based eaters as it’s almost always vegan. In DC, vegans can enjoy the best falafel in town and additional vegan-friendly Israeli street food at Shouk in Union Market and Mount Vernon. Many of the dishes can be served either in a bowl or in a fresh warm pita, including the roasted cauliflower dish and mushroom shawarma. The Shouk veggie burger is top-rated in the city. Top off your dish with vegan feta cheese, hummus, or fermented cashew labneh.

Equinox

Every Sunday married chef duo Todd Gray and Ellen Kassof Gray transform Equinox into a vegan brunch experience. The fully plant-based buffet in Farragut Sq brings in a crowd each weekend. The selection of dishes always includes a few sweet options such as stuffed french toast, and savory dishes including vegan scrambled eggs and homemade soups. Don’t miss the dessert table for irresistible vegan cookies, brownies, and cakes, or the bread section with a multitude of drool-worthy spreads and jams. Although Equinox does serve meat throughout the week, they’re dedicated to sustainable farming and sourcing local seasonal ingredients. To remind patrons to be mindful of the environment there are displays encouraging guests to serve themselves only what they’ll eat to avoid food waste. 

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