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Washington DC

Must Read Washington DC Vegan Guide: Where to Eat & Explore

Updated February 6, 2024

When you think of the US capital, what do you think of? Abraham Lincoln? The White House? Some long-drawn-out history lesson about how some white guy did something? Snooze fest! Well, at least I thought so when I was a kid — I had the opportunity to visit Washington DC but gave it a hard pass.

Luckily, I didn’t hit the snooze button when the opportunity arose again!

Of course, Washington DC is an excellent place to brush up on all those US history lessons you slept through in school (plus all the ones that they didn’t teach), but it’s also a fantastic place to explore hip and eclectic neighborhoods and a diversity of vegan food (I’m sure I have your attention now).

If you get the opportunity to visit DC, don’t skip it — you’re in for an educational and tasty adventure! This vegan guide to Washington DC is packed with everything you could possibly need — drool-worthy food options, great things to do, and more — what else could you possibly need (the answer is nothing, so don’t even try and think something up!)?

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Is Washington DC Vegan-Friendly?

Heck yes, Washington DC is very vegan-friendly! Visitors to the US capitol should get ready to enjoy a diverse selection of vegan options taking inspiration from Korea, Mexico, Afghanistan, and many others!

I estimate there are nearly 40 vegan or vegetarian restaurants (this vegan guide to Washington DC will help you find almost all of them!) spread throughout the city, along with a variety of pop-ups that you can find at one of the many farmer’s markets throughout the week.

The vegan food scene also appears to be growing in DC — with new restaurants and menu options constantly popping up. And aside from restaurants, DC is also home to the headquarters of multiple animal rights groups and the vegan health group, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants in Washington DC

Where you’re looking for spicy vegan tacos loaded with avocado crema or a comforting bowl of Italian antipasti, you’ll find it in DC! And, if this list is just too overwhelming, be sure to check out my favorite DC restaurants for vegan food — they won’t disappoint!

DC Vegan

1633 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036
This Italian/American vegan street food spot is as delicious as it is beautiful! The upstairs is a small deli — the perfect place to grab an order of meatballs and a salad, but the Botanical Bar downstairs is where you want to go for a gorgeous meal and creative cocktails (don’t miss the aquafaba foam drinks!), and classy scenery!

Equinox Restaurant

818 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006
This is your spot for something a little fancy in DC. The chef, Todd Gray, is a five-time James Beard award winner who has created a vegan-friendly menu featuring local and seasonal cuisine.

Chaia

3207 Grace St NW, Washington, DC 20007
615 I St NW, Washington, DC 20001

This is where your vegan taco and nacho dreams come to life! This vegetarian restaurant serves a variety of Mexican-inspired favorites, all packed with veggies (no fake meat here)!

NuVegan Café

2928 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
This vegan cafeteria-style restaurant offers loads of salads and a variety of house-made meats (chick’n drummies, crab cakes, fried steak, and more).

Pow Pow

1253 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
This plant-based Asian eatery wasn’t always vegan!? Customer demand for the veggie-based dishes pushed them to kick meat to the curb. All their dishes are excellent; many are made with a variety of mock meats, like shrimp!

VEGZ

2120 18th St NW BSMT, Washington, DC 20009
Vegan-friendly Indian food with an extensive menu (good luck deciding!) — Dosa, masala, vindaloo, and so much more. If you love Dosas, don’t miss this spot because of their incredible options!

Bubbies Plant Burgers

1829 M St NW Suite 100, Washington, DC 20036
These junk food creations are nothing short of a masterpiece — everything is amped up with a little extra everything to give your taste buds a fantastic experience. Vegan junk food is usually hard for gluten-free vegans, but not here! Get ready to indulge!

vegan gluten free fried garlic butter chick'n sandwich from bubbies in washington dc

Sticky Fingers Diner

406 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002 (Diner location)
This vegan diner has fed the DC community for over 20 years with various junk food favorites — all-day breakfast, cheesy mac-n-cheese, pierogi, burgers, and more!

Elife

Two locations in Washington DC
Another vegan Soul Food spot offers a hot bar filled with mac-n-cheese, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and fried chick’n — the benefit of coming here is you can load up on as much as you want!

HipCityVeg

1300 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
This vegan fast-food chain is whipping up everyone’s favorite junk food — golden nuggets, loaded burgers, crispy fries, milkshakes, and more!

Senbeb Café

6224 3rd St NW, Washington, DC 20011
If you’ve never had vegan Soul Food, here is your chance! Their menu features all the traditional favorites — BBQ tofu, Cajun fried chick’n, BBQ ribs, biscuits, and more!

Rawish

2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006
Need a little nutrient boost? Come here! Their raw menu features everything from Mexi-Buddha bowls loaded with walnut taco meat to decadent peanut butter cheesecake!

two large vegan salad bowls next to eachother with acai bowls next to them topped with berries and chocolate with one single banana off to the side
Credit: Rawish

Beefsteak

800 22nd St NW, Washington, DC 20052
With a name like that you might be a little apprehensive — I was too! But have no fear, this veggie spot is fully vegetarian and focuses on colorful and healthy bowls with spicy tofu, bok choy, sweet potatoes, and much more.

Elizabeth’s Gone Raw

1341 L St NW Suite 1, Washington, DC 20005
This fine-dining vegan restaurant is only open three nights a week (be sure to make reservations) and serves a fantastic six-course tasting menu!

a large white bowl filled with vegan tuna tartare topped with micro greens and olive oil at elizabeths gone raw in dc
Credit: Elizabeth’s Gone Raw

Shouk

Multiple locations in DC
Inspired by the open-air markets in Tel Aviv, this vegan spot has so many tantalizing things to choose from — Za’atar cauliflower, Shouk sausage, mushroom shawarma, and more!

Sushi But Like Vegan

2800 10th St NE, Washington, DC 20017
Located inside the Tastemaker’s Food Hall, this is the spot for loads of vegan sushi options, bowls, and even a Japanese sweet potato pizza!

The Vegan Sushi Club

Union Kitchen, 2020 Fenwick St NE #2, Washington, DC 20002
Another fantastic vegan sushi spot but there is a caveat — it’s only available for pick up or delivery. But with one look, I think you’ll be Door Dashing an order of Earth Day Roll, Dragon Roll, and maybe even an order of noodles!

a pair of chopsticks holding up a vegan sushi roll filled with avocado and fake crab over a tray of rolls at vegan sushi club in dc
Credit: Vegan Sushi Club

Naked Lunch

Multiple locations in DC
Located inside MOM’s Organic Market, this is the place to come to create your own veggie-packed bowl and add on a bottle of fresh juice.

DC Dosa

Union Market, 1309 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
This spot has cornered the DC market on vegan Dosas! In case you’re unsure what a Dosa is, it’s a South Indian lentil crepe filled with various savory fillings like curry potatoes and roasted veggies and topped with chutneys and sauces.

vegan indian dosa filled with curried potatoes on a white plate next to little sauce containers in DC
Credit: DC Dosa

PLNT Burger

Multiple locations in DC
This is the land of vegan burgers and fries! Their lineup is mouthwatering — mushroom BBQ bacon burger, DBL PLNT burger, or maybe a crispy chik’n sandwich served with either crispy sweet potato crinkles or crispy herb fries!

PLANTA Queen

1200 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
If you’re looking for a sophisticated spot for Asian-inspired eats, look no further! You’ll drool over their amazing menu of creative sushi, noodles, dumplings, and more. If you’re a sushi lover, don’t skip the spicy tuna roll with ahi watermelon!

Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Washington DC

On top of having such a fabulous selection of vegan and vegetarian restaurants there are loads of vegan-friendly ones — this guide would be 10 miles long if I listed all of them! Here are a few that standout amongst the crowd.

Lapis

1847 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009
This award-winning Afghan restaurant has an extensive veggie menu — traditional bread, expertly prepared veggies, and more! I waited over 30 minutes for a table; it was worth it

vegan dinner at afghan restaurant lapis in dc

Flower Child

Multiple locations in DC
This vegan-friendly casual spot is the perfect place to get your daily dose of fresh veggies! Their menu features a variety of veggie-packed salads, bowls, and wraps.

Little Sesame

736 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
This vegan-friendly Middle Eastern-inspired spot is serving up a creative mix of bowls and sandwiches (seriously, no basic hummus and falafel combo here)! They also have oat milk soft serve, so be sure to save a little room for dessert.

Immigrant Food

Multiple locations in DC
This cause-casual spot is so unique! It seeks to celebrate the story of immigrants through food by combining a variety of cultures, tastes, and flavors into its vegan-friendly menu. Each location has a slightly different menu, but all bowls can be made vegan.

TaKorean

Multiple locations throughout DC
What started as a food truck is now a multi-location Korean restaurant in DC! Their make-your-own bowl menu is very vegan-friendly.

Keren Café & Restaurant

1780 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
Just a short walk from DC’s “Little Ethiopia” is this fantastic Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant. Their vegan-friendly menu offers some of the best lentils, potatoes, and collards in town! You’ll also find a few other Ethiopian spots nearby that are equally as delicious and vegan-friendly.

Vegan Brunch & Breakfast Spots in Washington DC

Fruitive

Multiple locations throughout DC
If you’re looking for delicious food with a side of health, come here! This vegan spot has everything you could want for breakfast — vegan and gluten-free waffles, smoothie bowls, house-made muffins, smoothies, and more!

Gregory’s Coffee

443 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Do you love coffee and breakfast? Come here! This vegan-friendly coffee shop has creative coffee drinks (don’t miss the Hall & Oats) and a great lineup of vegan breakfast sandwiches and raw breakfast treats!

Sticky Fingers Diner

406 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Their all-day breakfast menu is jaw-dropping — pancakes, benedict Florentine, croissant sandwiches, and more!

HipCityVeg

1300 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
This vegan fast-food chain can’t let you start your day without a boost! Grab a sausage egg and cheese or one of their many other excellent breakfast sandwiches, but don’t forget an order of classic crispy hash browns!

Rawish

2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006
Start your day with a berry-packed smoothie bowl loaded with blueberries, strawberries, acai, and topped with peanut butter and granola or one of their other irresistible concoctions.

South Block

Multiple locations throughout DC
This might be the spot for smoothie bowls! Holy smokes, the lineup is extensive — whether you need a little Blue Majik or the power of greens, you can get it here.

Equinox Restaurant

818 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006
This fancy vegan-friendly spot offers an 8-course plant-based brunch menu that features artisan bread, Just Egg frittata, pancakes, and more! Brunch is only available on Sundays.

Vegan Bakeries, Donuts, & Ice Cream in DC

Here are a few stellar sweet options! If you’re in need of more, don’t miss our lineup of the best vegan bakeries in DC too.

Sticky Fingers Eats & Sweets

314 Carroll St NW Washington DC
These aren’t your ordinary baked vegan treats — they are award-winning! Seriously, the owner Donna Petersan won The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars two times! So, get ready for some of the most delicious cakes, cookies, and cupcakes you’ve ever had.

vegan gluten free vanilla pride cupcake with blue frosting and a gummi rainbow at sticky fingers washington dc

Donut Run

6904 4th St NW, Washington, DC 20012
Although this vegan donut shop is a bit of a hike outside downtown DC, it’s worth it! They have a massive lineup of vegan donuts — Boston cream, glazed, maple cream, chocolate sprinkle, and many more.

Rise Bakery

2409 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
If you’re vegan and gluten-free, don’t miss a stop here. This vegan-friendly bakery is 100% gluten-free and has a great lineup of cupcakes, bread, cookies, and avocado toast.

Pressed

Multiple locations in DC
I was surprised to find a juice spot with vegan soft serve! Their “guilt-free” soft-serve is made with minimal ingredients and natural fruits and then topped with almond butter, fresh fruit, marshmallows, granola — whatever your heart desires!

chocolate vegan soft serve with almond butter drizzle and chocolate chips from pressed in dc

Jeni’s Ice Cream

Multiple locations throughout DC
This ice cream chain always has multiple vegan options that are creamy and delicious — Texas Sheet Cake, Dark Chocolate Truffle, Caramel Sticky Buns, Cold Brew with Coconut Cream, and more!

Dolci Gelati

1420 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
This artisanal gelato shop has a great lineup of vegan options, not just sorbet! Just a few of the flavors include salted caramel, peanut butter, and toasted coconut — they are all made with oat milk.

Eco-Friendly Hotel in Washington DC

DC isn’t a terribly giant town, even though traffic can make it seem like it takes forever to get somewhere! If it’s your first visit to DC, I suggest staying in the Dupont Circle area. You’re within easy walking distance to a literal ton of vegan restaurants and shops, and there are many transit options to get downtown.

Check out this hotel if you’re looking for a spot to stay.

The Dupont Circle Hotel

1500 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
I chose this hotel for its sustainability initiatives, which the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals shape. The hotel has implemented many initiatives — energy conservation, locally sourced food, food waste reduction, no single-use plastics, and many vegetarian meal options (some could be made vegan, but you’ll have to ask). The hotel is also in a perfect location for all DC activities.

Book Your Stay

What To Do in Washington DC

#1 Visit one of the many FREE museums in DC

Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group, I think this is a huge benefit to visiting DC — museum entrance fees can add up so fast! The lineup of free museums includes all of the Smithsonian Museums, The National Gallery of Art, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The National Archives Museum, and many others! One of the most popular is the National Air and Space Museum — home to The Voyager, The Wright Flyer, and Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. Some of these museums are also great activities to do with teens in DC.

Some museums require that you reserve a timed reservation ahead of time, while others will allow you to saunter right in whenever you want. So be sure to look ahead of time. There are just a handful of other incredible museums that aren’t free, but I suggest prioritizing all free ones first!

#2 Learn the impact of African Americans + visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture

This is an excellent opportunity to learn a different perspective of US history. This was one of my favorite activities in DC. The tour covers historical impacts from slavery to the modern day, visits key sites like U Street (once known as Black Broadway) and the MLK Memorial, and ends at The African American History Museum. The tour comes with a  timed entry ticket to the museum.

Honestly, a visit to the museum could be done solely on its own, but I felt like the tour gave even more context. The tour and the museum can easily fill an entire day — the museum is giant (don’t try and fit it all in one visit). There are countless unique exhibits; two that I found to be really special include Leveling the Playing Field, which explores the impacts of Black athletes on and off the field, and A Changing America, which explores contemporary America from the late ’60s to #BlackLivesMatters.

#3 Hang out at the DC Union Market or its neighbor, La Cosecha

Both markets are hip spots to hang out year-round, especially in the summer. When it’s not scorching outside, be sure to check out The Union Market’s rooftop bar, Hi-Lawn. Throughout the week, this fun spot hosts a variety of activities and live music — if the weather is ideal, you might want to bring a blanket to sit on the lawn, as finding a table will be tough! Inside the Union Market are multiple vegan-friendly restaurants like DC Dosas and Immigrant food, along with the fun shop Salt & Sundry.

Its neighbor market, La Cosecha, celebrates Latin American food and culture. It is a chic place to grab a drink, but there aren’t too many vegan options (hopefully, that changes soon!).

#4 First-timers, take a monument tour (but skip the Potomac boat ride)

There are many historical spots and monuments throughout DC — it’s hard to keep them all straight! The easiest way to ensure you don’t miss any sights is by booking a tour (there is a cool nighttime option and a daytime tour in an eco-friendly, electric vehicle) I thought about skipping it; I am glad that I didn’t because I would’ve definitely missed some spots and interesting information.

Some of the tours come with a boat ride on the Potomac, I know it sounds exciting, but it’s not worth it! You cruise down a few miles and then turn around and come back. I didn’t learn anything new either, so I think you can find better ways to use your time than this.

the back view of the inside of the lincoln memorial in dc

#5 Wander through the unique mix of DC neighborhoods 

DC has a mix of eclectic neighborhoods to check out. A couple of spots not to miss include Georgetown, Logan Circle/14th Street, and Adams Morgan — each one has its own unique vibe.

Georgetown is known for picturesque streets and high-end shopping — for the perfect wander, don’t miss Wisconsin Ave. or M Street. For trendy restaurants and hip independent boutiques, check out 14th Street in Logan Circle. The last spot in Adams Morgan, home to even more great restaurants, beautiful row houses, and a variety of independent shops.

Can I Visit The White House?

Yes, you can visit the White House and even the Capitol on a guided tour, but it’s not easy! You must first apply up to three months in advance to visit through your congressional office or embassy; after that, you wait. The lucky visitors are drawn through a lottery, but you only get to go on the date they give you! 

I know this isn’t the same, but it’s much easier to visit — the White House Visitor Center is just around the corner, and visitors can check out a variety of exhibits and artifacts from the White House for free.

the white house taken from jackson square with the washington memorial in the background in dc

Need More Vegan Travel Help?

If you’re checking more East Coast cities, be sure not to skip over these guides and articles!

4 Eco-Friendly Hotels in Philadelphia
10 Best Restaurants for Vegan Food in Philly
8 Things to Do & See in Philadelphia
Vegan-Friendly Hotels in NYC
The Best Spots for Vegan Brunch in NYC
NYC Vegan Travel Guide
The Ultimate Vegan Travel Guide to The Finger Lakes
The Austin Ultimate Vegan Travel Guide
The Best Spots for Vegan Food in Madison, Wi
The Best Vegan Guide to Reykjavik, Iceland

About Author

Rebecca is the founder of the vegan travel company Veggies Abroad. In 2021, she bid her 15-year career goodbye and ventured into the world of ethical business with the launch of a vegan travel blog (the one you’re reading!). As the blog flourished, Rebecca expanded her vision to encompass personalized travel planning services and launched Veggies Abroad's inaugural vegan tour to Thailand, marking the beginning of many more eco-conscious, plant-powered adventures to come. Follow her adventures on Instagram or Facebook @veggiesabroad