I’m very lucky to live in Denver, a really vegan-friendly city, but when I travel I love love LOVE eating my way through the vegan options in other cities. This week I had a quick work trip to DC, 48 hours exactly, and wow did I eat well!
First stop (after checking into my Alexandria hotel) was Sticky Fingers, the famous all-vegan bakery and cafe Doron Petersan opened after winning Cupcake Wars with her delicious vegan cupcakes. Their menu is full of tempting foods, but I narrowed it down to the Loaded Sweet Potato Fries (with chili, house-made cashew cheddar & salsa, avocado, and a side of soy sour cream) and a cup of Cheesy Mac, with a coconut water to drink. And of course the book I was reading- American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst.
I went with two appetizers, rather than an entree, so that I could try more. I knew I’d likely only eat here this one time, so it made sense to me. It was still too much food though, I wasn’t able to finish everything.
The Cheesy Mac was my favorite- so hot and creamy and flavorful! You could tell it was made with their own house-blend of cheesy goodness, and would have been perfect on its own, in the larger bowl portion!
I had expected the loaded fries to be my fave, because I love me some sweet taters, and nachos are always on my wish list, but sadly… they didn’t live up to my expectations. I mean, they were good- and I think if they had been prepared the way they were meant to be, they would’ve been fantastic! But while the fries themselves were hot, the toppings were all barely room temperature, even the chili. Oh well. They were still good, and I’d definitely recommend them, when made right. And of course, I could’ve complained and had them remade, but I just didn’t feel like it.
I’ll try Sticky Fingers again the next time I’m in DC. I think it just wasn’t what I wanted that afternoon. I wanted a comfy place to sit and read my book and enjoy a glass of wine with my meal, which just isn’t Sticky Fingers. Which is okay! I think it would be the most fun place to have brunch with a group of friends, or to stuff my face with cupcakes. I’m sorry I didn’t order a boozy milkshake on my way out, but I was just too full.
So I got back on the metro, stopped at the mall to see cherry blossoms, and then headed back to my hotel, with visions of
sugarplums sparkling rosé dancing in my head. Unfortunately, our hotel (while close to the King St. station) wasn’t in Old Town. It was in a very business-park like area which not much in the way of restaurants or bars, so I ended up in my hotel bar, The Trademark. It was nice, but a little pricey and didn’t have a ton of options (although they did offer a Vegan Mushroom Ravioli entree for $24). I was still full, so I just had a glass of rosé (not sparkling, which made me sad).
In hindsight, I really wish I had saved Sticky Fingers for another day. I was tired from the flight and really wanted wine. Knowing myself I would’ve been happier finding a restaurant with both booze AND vegan options (like Busboys and Poets, my DC fave!). Lesson learned!
I just had coffee for breakfast, and didn’t take a picture, but lunch was at the Census Bureau cafeteria, which isn’t actually that bad! I saw they offer a veggie burger, although I didn’t want to stand in line to ask if it was vegan. There were a lot of prepared foods, some of which looked like they might be good, but I settled on the salad bar, where I loaded up with baby greens, roasted beets, chickpeas, bulgar wheat, carrots, celery, tomatoes, edamame, sesame sticks and a little balsamic vinaigrette, with a side of prepared Asian veggie noodle salad. Because I’m an introvert, I shunned all my colleagues from the conference and ate by myself with my book, which made me happy 🙂
When the conference ended at 5, I was back on the metro… this time headed to the Gallery Pl/Chinatown station. Destination? Busboys and Poets, of course! Of all the amazing restaurants I’ve tried in DC over the years, this is my favorite. I love the vibe (inclusiveness, political awareness, acceptance) and of course I love the food. Each time I’ve been, I’ve sat at the bar with my book and each time have ended up with the book down, chatting with the people next to me.
And, each time, I’ve ordered something different from the menu… and there’s still so much to try! This time I went with the Coconut Tofu Bites, served with a plum-red pepper sauce. In my pregan days I was a big fan of coconut shrimp, and that’s EXACTLY what these tasted like, minus the cruelty! The sweet coconut they were fried in, along with that sauce!? Amazing. The best thing I ate on this trip for sure.
There were 10 or 12 of them on that plate, all hot and crispy and calling my name. But I’m proud to say I didn’t eat all of them myself! I started chatting with Ron, the guy sitting next to me. He was in his young 20’s and had been vegetarian for a few years, which I found very cool. I love meeting young veggies because they are totally the future of our movement. I also liked that he had lots of tattoos, just like me 🙂 Not all vegans and vegetarians are that stereotypical old hippies, you know!? And it didn’t hurt that he was cute af, haha. His friend wasn’t vegetarian, but had tried to go vegetarian in middle school after learning about the cruelties of using animals for food, which I thought was great, even though it didn’t stick. Anyway, I forced them to each try a coconut bite, because these things were just too good not to share!
Anyway, I knew I needed some veggies, so I also ordered a side salad:
This was a side-sized portion of the Busboys House salad, a mix of baby kale, tomatoes, carrots, jicama, tons of sesame seeds, and an amazing yuzu vinaigrette. It was citrusy and a little sweet, just perfect. Other than worrying about the sesame seeds stuck in my teeth, I really enjoyed this salad. And all this great food was washed down by
a two pints of Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager, a local beer from Virginia. Darker than what I usually like, but really good!
Oh, and then there was dessert! I really wasn’t hungry but after skipping sweets the day before, I was ready. Plus Busboys and Poets has a great vegan dessert menu:
So many options, but I went with the cheesecake, which happened to be raspberry swirl, and I’m glad I did. And I didn’t share a single bite of it!
Coffee for breakfast again, before the final morning of our conference. When it ended at noon, I was back on the metro, this time headed to &Pizza, whose menu I had been drooling over all week! They’re a great company who pays a living wage to their employees- who in turn apparently love them so much, lots of them have &Pizza tattoos!
It’s a casual place where you stand in a line choosing what you want on you ‘za, it goes through an oven and comes out by the cash register, all in the time it’s taken the line to move you that far along. Their menu includes vegan cheese and vegan “beef” crumbles, as well as a ton of veggies. Everything is clearly marked whether or not it is vegan AND as soon as you order vegan cheese, they ask “Is this a vegan pizza, or just dairy free?” So then, when I specified that it was vegan, it was marked as such through the rest of the process so that it wouldn’t come in contact with stuff I don’t wanna eat. They even had a special vegan pizza cutter at the very end, as they boxed it up!
I went with a build-your-own, with traditional dough, classic tomato sauce, and vegan mozzarella…. Then I had them add spinach, tomatoes, and vegan beef. After it was cooked, they offer what they call “Finishes”, and I chose fresh basil and a light drizzle of olive oil. It was so good! I ate the whole thing, and I don’t even feel bad about that!
Look how gooey and delicious!
&Pizza is a chain, so if you live in DC, Maryland, NY, Pennsylvania or Virginia, I recommend you get your butt there and order a pizza. I wish they’d come to Denver!
After stuffing myself with all that pizza, it was time to head back to the airport. I had a little time before boarding, so my trusty book and I found a bar near my gate, so I could have a glass of wine… but then I saw their taps:
Allagash Brewing is from Maine, named after a river there. It was also the name of my dad’s dog, who was totally his favorite child. Allie as we call her is still going strong, and we both miss my dad, so I just had to order a pint of their white, and it was really good.
Here’s a really cute shot of me and Allie, a few days after my dad’s funeral as I was about to leave for Colorado. Isn’t she cute?
So that’s it! 48 hours and enough for for probably twice that, but who cares? I go to DC about once a year for work, so if you have any favorite spots there to recommend, let me know!