DC Refined: 15 vegetarian standouts to devour right now

From DC Refined by Lani Furbank:

“Whether you’re a diehard vegetarian or just someone who’s trying to stick to a new year’s resolution to eat healthier, adding more plants to your diet is a great idea. However, as many veg veterans will tell you, finding an interesting, satisfying, and filling plant-based meal at a restaurant can be tricky, especially when many vegetarian ‘entrées’ are a salad or a few grilled vegetables on a plate. So, we’ve rounded up 15 standout vegetarian dishes that can hold their own as the star of your meal.


In Balkan cuisine, spiced braised cabbage is a staple. Ambar’s recipe for cabbage casuela includes smoked paprika, vegeta (a Balkan seasoning), garlic, and pepper. The cabbage is piled on top of yogurt and served with bread to round out the dish. ($7)

Ana at District Winery

It turns out that katsu, a popular Japanese preparation that involves breading and frying meat, works surprisingly well with plant-based protein. At Ana, Chef Ben Lambert marinates a slab of tofu in a brine made with gazpacho water and soy sauce, then breads and fries it. It ends up sandwiched between a ciabatta bun and topped with roasted red pepper, alfalfa sprouts, lemon oil, and sambal aioli. ($15)


Massive pans of bomba rice are often the centerpiece of a meal at Mike Isabella’s Spanish and Moroccan restaurant, Arroz. The vegetarian version of the shareable dish entices the taste buds without the meat. The winter vegetable bomba rice has foraged mushrooms, smoked cauliflower, an egg, and pimenton aioli. ($48)


This French spot in Alexandria has two vegetarian risottos—one with mushrooms and one with squash. The risotto aux champignons has roasted mushrooms and Parmesan, while the Orge, Courges, herbes d’automne has squash, barley, herbs, and broccolini. ($23 at dinner, $14 at lunch)


This farm-to-taco shop specializes in seasonal, plant-based tacos. While there are five different offerings, one that stands out is the roasted beet taco with ricotta salata, cilantro-lime yogurt, and fresh jalapeño. ($3.75 each or 3 for $11)

Colada Shop

The team at Colada Shop has recreated the rich flavors and textures of a classic Cuban sandwich, but with mushrooms instead of pork. The veggie Cuban sandwich has mojo-marinated portobello mushrooms, Swiss cheese, cilantro aioli, and mustard. ($9.98)

Espita Mezcaleria

The Oaxacan-inspired cuisine on the menu at Espita Mezcaleria includes a few meat-free options, like the tacos de zanahoria. Two corn tortillas—made in house with freshly ground masa—are filled with roasted baby carrots, carrot almond salsa, carrot radish slaw, and queso de cabra crema. ($10)”

Check out the rest of the dishes and photos HERE!

Featured photo courtesy of Taylor Gourmet.

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