Our capital is known for being a cultural melting pot, so it didn’t take long to find diverse, tasty and relatively affordable eateries.
What exactly constitutes healthy?
Some think anything vegetarian fits the bill. For others, only juice cleanses and vegan meals make the cut. But most would agree that still maintaining a balance is key – eat food; not too much; mostly plants, as Michael Pollan famously said.
Certain cuisines fall into this category easily: Mediterranean, Peruvian and Eritrean/Ethiopian. They tend to naturally focus on plants and leaner meats.
Using their regions’ distinctive palette and seasoning brings out the brightness and vibrant flavors of plants and whole foods on the plate.
So when you don’t want to think too hard, but you still want to be good to you body, here are some of the District’s restaurants that offer under-the-radar nutrition.
Bowl-conscious: CAVA, Roti, Merzi, Chipotle, Little Beet, Protein Bar
Any one of these fast casual, customizable bowl restaurants can suit a health-conscious customer. CAVA or Merzi, for the heart-healthy, Mediterranean eater; Little Beet for East Asian fusion; and Chopt and Chipotle for a taste of the Americas.
Tips: When in doubt, stay away from empty and filling items like rice, tortilla bread, corn, croutons, coated nuts, and dairy toppings (like non-yogurt creamy dressings, sour cream, and cheese).
Everything in moderation – choose one of these toppings instead of three. A salad bowl, lentils, quinoa or extra beans provides more nutrients and keep you fuller and more satisfied than rice can throughout your day.
Calabash Tea Bar & Café
1847 7th St. NW
Stressful day? Tired of the fast-paced D.C. bustle? When you step into Calabash, you will not be asked which healing tea blends, pour-over coffee, herbal tonics, or kombucha you want. They will instead ask how you want to feel. Hippy-dippy for some, but Calabash’s music, décor, and hospitable hands-on owner, you’ll feel instantly transported to another place.
Heart and soul-healthy vegan food is served all day at this comfy tearoom, including miso and red pepper soups, energy bowls, detox salads, savory samosas, and BLTs. For treats, try their peanut butter-base everything cookie or the most tender apple zucchini bread you’ve ever had.
Union Market, Northeast, DC
These Indian crepes can fill you up without weighing you down.
DC Dosa uses the original and authentic South Indian dosa recipe handed down by the owner’s family. Dosas are a hearty, healthy, naturally vegan, and gluten free meal, which consists of rice and lentil-based crepes stuffed with a variety of savory fillings. Savory curried potatoes, eggplant or spicy chickpeas fill the immensely popular Indian street food staple. Dosas are seemingly simple to prepare, but they require technique and a well-developed palate to be done right.
2314 4th St. NE
This family owned Peruvian rotisserie spot is a welcome addition to the relatively bare food landscape of Edgewood in Northeast, DC. Located right off of Rhode Island and 4th St. NE, Huacatay serves consistently delicious and tender rotisserie chicken with flavorsome vegetable sides like green beans with onions and black beans. Easily add two sides to the roasted half-chicken for a $6 meal. A whole roasted chicken can easily last you 3 or 4 days! Buy local, healthy and affordable at Huacatay.
1380 H St. NE
This Black-owned juice bar opened last year in the District and joins a slew of new vegan offerings. Choose from a variety of organic vegan smoothies, juices, and wellness shots or take a shot at a 3, 5, or 7 day juice cleanse. But if you’re still eating solid food, Turning Natural has a plentiful vegan menu to choose from: warm spinach or veggie patties, salad bar, black bean burgers, waffles and acai or pitatya bowls. If you want to do your body right, you can’t go wrong at Turning Natural.