This past Monday I had the pleasure of seeing long-time vegan and amazing musician Moby speak about his photography at National Geographic Live. While I could go on and on about meeting one of my musical heroes, this blog is not about epic music fandom, but rather about food. So I will focus instead on the dinner I had beforehand, which was at Cafe Green!
Cafe Green, which is owned by the same people behind Java Green (hence the two sharing a website/URL), differs from Java Green in that it’s a sit-down restaurant focused more on dinner and relaxed eating as opposed to a quick sandwich or salad. It is one of (if not the) only all-vegan, sit-down restaurants in DC (I don’t count places like Sticky Fingers because that’s more like a coffee shop, while Cafe Green is a more traditional restaurant with full table service and the like). Their meals have no animal products of any kind; and it also features a wide variety of raw, gluten-free, and nut-free dishes. The menu changes by season and features a variety of appetizers, sandwiches, traditional entrees, and desserts. They also have a brunch on Sunday’s, which I’ve never tried (but would like to!).
I’ve been to Cafe Green several times (including for my birthday!) and have always had good experiences. This past Monday was no different. It was a warm day, so I ordered one of my favorite drinks, the Ginger Joy, which is a sweetened ginger root tea that you can have hot or cold. My boyfriend took advantage of the happy hour specials and got an organic ale to start; the menu features several organic and eco-friendly beers, wines, and cocktails if you want some spirits with your food!
Up next, the appetizer. The boy and I decided to share the Mini Mung Bean pancakes (which were also available for $1 less than usual thanks to the happy hour specials), which consisted of two mung bean and veggie pancakes that came with a tamari dipping sauce. The veggies in the pancake included spicy kimchi, so the pancakes dipped in the sauce made for a spicy punch! It was a nice appetizer that, when shared, was small enough to not ruin our dinners, but also satisfying enough to help ward off some hunger while we waited for our main courses.
Now, onto the main course! Originally I was going to try the Raw Spaghetti Marinara (made with zucchini “noodles”) with Herb-Walnut “Meatballs,” but unfortunately they didn’t have the meatballs available that evening. So, I decided to try the Veggie Meatloaf with creamy mashed potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, and vegan gravy. I was very pleased that I had to choose this alternative, because it was delicious! The asparagus was sauteed to a perfect crisp, the mushrooms and gravy had great flavor, and the creamy mashed potatoes tasted just like the kind I had growing up. I also loved that the “meatloaf” was largely vegetable-based – the menu described the loaf as having a lentil and vegetable base, and I definitely saw chunks of carrot and other veggies inside. But unlike some garden loafs or patties which have chunks of vegetables and just taste gross or bland, this loaf was very savory and tasty without relying too much on mock meats to try and mimic the original product – this loaf stands on its own!
Both my boyfriend and I were quite full afterward and decided against dessert, though in the past I have had their vegan gelato and it was very good. One of these days I am going to try the raw cinnamon bun!
So in short, both of us had yet another good dining experience at this all-vegan restaurant. Cafe Green’s greatest strengths lie not just in their commitment to use vegan and organic ingredients, but to focus largely on using whole foods very well in their entrees. They do serve some mock products such as Gardein mock chicken and (excellent) vegan mac-and-cheese, but they also have dishes like the vegetable meat loaf and the raw pizza (also very good) which rely less on using mocks and more on making whole foods sing.
I will say that Cafe Green is not cheap. Both my boyfriend and I paid about $22 each for our dinner before tip, and entrees alone typically cost between $12 and $20 depending on what you order. But Cafe Green is a cozy place with great food, and an excellent option for a vegan dinner at a sit-down restaurant in the District.