Vegan DC – Woodlands Vegan Bistro

20141019_142046    This is post number three in a series about  eating vegan in Washington DC.  For lunch on Sunday, we easily found parking across the street from Woodlands Vegan Bistro, at 2928 Georgia Avenue NW.   This is now in contention with Vedge for my favorite vegan restaurant–Woodlands Vegan Bistro is great.  I love Vedge, but I also doubt they could make mac and cheese or fried chicken as good as Woodlands, and I really like the comfortable atmosphere at Woodlands too.  Check out the big 100% vegan menus.  The system is that when you come in, you walk straight to a back room and get in line, cafeteria-style (photos below).  You’ll move up to some deli cases where there is only one laminated menu on the counter.  So if the line is short, you need to think fast, or know what you want beforehand.  Luckily for us, there was a nice young woman in line ahead of us and she was very helpful–recommending the fried chicken, garlic kale, collards, and mac and cheese, which she always gets to go.  Once you order, you backtrack out of the back room and come to a cash register at the bar to order your beverages and pay.  There are no caffeinated drinks here, so we got Izee sodas and paid for our food.  You get a number for your table so they can bring your food to you, and then you sit where you want.  Note; had I seen the self-serve, porcelain jugs of ice water at the end of the bar, I would have skipped the soda.  We found a table against a wall near the door, so we could enjoy the musician who was singing Marvin Gaye at a keyboard.  It turns out we were there during Brunch, which is served from 10 to 3 every Sunday.  So, how did we like the food?   The breakfast sandwich was unremarkable, and we were stunned by the amount of garlic in the kale, so next time I would order the plain kale.  Forget that and let’s focus on the creamy and flavorful macaroni and cheese–it was so good that I’m sure the recipe must be a secret.  Also, the chicken burger was KILLER, with a thick, crunchy batter and served on what seemed like a soft, buttermilk-biscuit bun.  This place was buzzing with happy diners–small families, college students, and little groups of friends lounging on the sofas along one wall.  Prices are decent, portions are large, and I’ll definitely be back whenever I’m in DC so I can try other things on the menu.  My only regret is that we did not order a piece of the outrageous-looking Red Velvet Cake to go.
20141019_134239   The service line at the back of the restaurant.
20141019_135112  You can see the back room where you select and order your food.  The register is just before the back room door, and the jugs of water at this end of the bar are for customers to help themselves.
20141019_135120  A little Marvin Gaye with brunch!
20141019_140519  On the right is the best chicken sandwich on the planet.  Crunchy batter served on a buttermilk-biscuit-type bun.
20141019_140525  The best-tasting macaroni and cheese I’ve had.

Vegan DC – Smoke and Barrel restaurant

20141018_173354(0)    This is post number two about eating vegan in Washington DC.  On a hopping Saturday night, we went to Smoke and Barrel tavern and restaurant at 2471 18th Street NW, in the heart of Adams Morgan.  We got a small table along the brick wall as you come in.  The downside of this place is that they serve a LOT of dead animals.  The upside is that intermingled throughout their menu are some really good vegan options, recognizable by two little symbols after the menu item (a single symbol indicates vegetarian).  Vegan options include chili, sweet potato fries, French fries, smoked asparagus, cole slaw, a vegan chicken cutlet sandwich, a vegan fried fish sandwich, and an interesting salad, among other things.  We settled on a basket of Fried Pickles with Chipotle Aioli that turned out to be totally addictive.  The batter is almost paper-thin, as are the pickle slices, and the chipotle aioli is smoky but not too smoky.  One of the tastiest things I ate all weekend were the Smoked Vegan Wings.  You can get them different ways, and the friendly waiter recommended the Buffalo Blue style, which we liked a lot.  The texture of these wings is like white-meat chicken, very much like the vegan turkey we had last Thanksgiving.  There is a small wooden stick in each wing, so you do have to cut the meat off the stick, and then there are two additional BBQ sauces on the table for you, and they were killer good too.  I was disappointed in the Vegan Spare Ribs, which are possibly made out of Whole Foods General Tso’s Vegan Chicken.  I like the vegan General Tso’s in a stir-fry, but it’s not what I want in a barbecue joint, especially when I could have other menu items instead.  Smoke and Barrel has a few vegan dessert options, you can get any four sides for $10, they’re open 7 days a week AND they even do Brunch every Saturday and Sunday, also with quite a few vegan items.  All in all, I would definitely go back the next time I’m in DC.
20141018_173248   Smoke and Barrel tavern
20141018_174218  Fried Pickles with Chipotle Aioli, totally addictive
20141018_175613  Skip the vegan ribs and go for these vegan wings.

Vegan DC – Native Foods Cafe

20141018_121341    This is the first in a small series of posts about eating vegan in Washington DC.  Our first stop was Native Foods at 1150 Connecticut Avenue NW (at 18th and M).  When you arrive at this address, you must walk around the back of the building to find the restaurant, and it’s a nice spot.  With the help of a $15 million investment from two private equity firms, Native Foods is slated to open 15 to 30 new locations across the U.S. by the end of 2015.  Soon, there will also be two more Native Foods locations open in the DC area.  One at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (Penn Quarter), scheduled to open November 4.  And one at Falls Church, VA (1216 West Broad Street), opening December 9, 2014.  We found the restaurant clean and bright.  At first glance, there didn’t appear to be much seating, but there were tables in another room on street level and then a lot of seating in the basement as well.  It helps to peruse the menu before you go up to order, because there’s a lot to pick from.  Once you pay, they give you a number for your table, and then you sit wherever you want and they bring the food to you.  Lars wanted the Chicken Run Ranch Burger and he also chose the Saigon Roll.  Both were good.  This is fast food that will not clog your arteries, and the portions are large.  There’s a children’s section on the menu, desserts, and beer and wine.  Next time I’ll try the Caribbean Jerk Kale Stacked Salad, or the Bangkok Curry Earth Bowl, or the Classic Deli Reuben or the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, or Crispy Sweet Potato Fries, and Lavender Lemonade.   I only wish we had a Native Foods Café here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
20141018_121543  Chicken Run Ranch Burger, and Saigon Roll
20141018_121255  One small section of the basement seating.
20141018_121321  More downstairs seating.