IMAGE VIA @CAVA | INSTAGRAM
We might favor our happy hours and boozy brunches, but every Washingtonian values two things: their gym membership and eating clean. Luckily, there are more than enough healthy eats to go around.
For the weekdays, when you forgot to meal prep, or for the weekends, when you’re trying really, really hard to stay on track, we’ve compiled all the healthiest restaurants in DC.
With purely vegan ingredients, any option at HipCityVeg on 7th St. NW is a choice you can feel good about. They use 100% organic non-GMO ingredients to create sammies, burgers, salads, and sides even your meat-eating friends will get food envy over. Don't believe us? We think one look at their Philly Steak sub stuffed with grilled onions, mushrooms and topped with organic ketchup or the Crispy HipCity Ranch sandwich will do the trick. Pair either with sweet potato fries or one of their awesome salads for meal that's both healthy and delicious.
Has Sweetgreen expanded to nearly half the country? Yes. Will we ever stop bragging that it’s a DC brand (with locations all over the city)? No. We don’t need to tell you how awesome Sweetgreen’s salads are — you fell in love with their Kale Caesar and Guacamole Greens eons ago. But by now, you’ve likely concocted your own signature salad—one your co-workers are always immediately jealous of—that practically deserves to be on the billboard. And hey, with the menu changing seasonally, maybe one day it will.
Yet another DC brand making the rounds across the US (cheers to that), CAVA is a go-to choice when you've got a craving for Mediterranean food. From the lamb meatballs to the falafel, the hummus and harissa, and their homemade dressings (has anyone been able to recreate the Sriracha greek yogurt yet?), it’s hard to name a single thing we don’t like on the menu. And with storefronts all over and in prime locations like Dupont, Chinatown, Shaw, and Navy Yard, you have ample opportunity to come in for a quick bite.
One of our all-time favorite lunch spots in Dupont and in Arlington, The Little Beet won our hearts with their 100% gluten-free menu. Whether you’re paleo, vegan, or following Whole30, you will find something to enjoy over your lunch hour. While it’s tempting to build your own option, we also love the Brussel Hustle salad, made with the freshest, seasonal ingredients you have to taste to believe.
Even the most die-hard carnivore can appreciate the plants-only menu at Shouk. Nestled in between Mt. Vernon and Chinatown, with another location in Union Market, this healthy hot spot lays claim to the best veggie burger patty in DC (and they’ll get no arguments from us). Grab a burger piled high with caramelized onions and tomatoes, or lose the pita and load-up with a veggie bowl. Either way, we insist you pair it with polenta fries — so good, you’ll never go back to potatoes.
Okay, we admit it — half the reason Fox Loves Taco made this list is because it’s housed in a bike shop. But “healthy” refers to food and fitness, right? The owners of Little Red Fox partnered with The Bike Shop in Brookland to create the vegetarian (with the option to veganize!) menu, with awesome flavors like poblano pepper, cauliflower chorizo, and poached egg with black bean hummus. Even better, if you're gluten-free, they offer tortillas made from heirloom blue corn that also happen to be vegan.
Looking for a healthy pizza option? We were following Timber Pizza Co.'s brick oven to every farmers market way before they landed their own storefront. And, once you sink your teeth into one of their pies, you'll understand why. Their wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizzas are drool-worthy enough to satisfy even the most hardcore pizza snobs, and the menu at their mobile ovens changes daily, with the Petworth shop changing seasonally. This fall and winter, look out for their green pizzas (topped with pesto, rather than tomato sauce) and The Ackley — a white pizza topped with butternut squash, arugula, and pumpkin seeds.
As the first certified-organic, fast-casual joint in the nation, Fruitive is one of our top picks for juice, smoothies, and acai bowls. While the menus vary slightly across each of their DC locations, we can’t get enough of their superfoods-in-a-glass meals and insanely-delicious toasts, sandwiches, and collard tacos. With concoctions like the Coconut Colada (coconut, pineapple, banana) and delectable creations like their Strawberry Peanut Butter toast, your healthy lunch tastes JUST as good as dessert (or better?). Fitt Tip: during the summer months, you can catch them at some of the local farmers markets, too.
Chaia offers plant-based, seasonal tacos in flavors we promise you have never tried before. Their Creamy Kale and Potato is a noteworthy classic, but we also love the Smoky Collard Greens paired with Carrot Kohlrabi Slaw. If you’re partial to breakfast tacos (raises hand), hit their Georgetown locations on the weekends where you can an egg to any taco for just $1. And if you can't get enough of the Beyond Meat burger, their Chinatown shop offers Beyond tacos.
These cold-pressed juices are the perfect option for a quick detox, on-the-go snack, or liquid meal. If you’re craving something indulgent, go for the Build Me Up, sweetened with dates. Or, if you want a tastier way to get your daily dose of greens, grab a Hulk from any of their DC outposts. They even have some options at their Apothékary shops. Fitt Tip: for a post-workout meal, grab a Build Me Up 2 and throw it in your gym bag. It’s fueled with protein powder, making it the perfect, portable reboot.
Actually healthy Indian food? Um, sign us up! With spices shipped directly from India and tandoor ovens on-site (in Fairfax and Sterling), you’d never expect such authentic Indian flavors from a fast-casual spot. All ingredients are sourced responsibly so you truly can’t go wrong on the menu. Alright, since you asked — we’re obsessed with their Paneer Chickpea Masala Bowl (can you believe they get their paneer from an Amish farm?), Salmon Tikka Masala Bowl, and Lamb Tandoori Wrap.
If you’re going to splurge on a night out, choose a place where the ambiance is just as stellar is the food. We love farm-to-table restaurants, but The Dabney in Blagden Alley takes things to another level, growing herbs and vegetables on their own terrace, sourcing the rest of their ingredients from the area’s finest farms and purveyors, which means the menu changes daily. Order plates to share for the whole table, like vegetables roasted in their own hearth, seared rockfish, and whole grilled trout.
If you’re stumbling out of Public Bar at 2am, this may just be your healthiest option for drunk food. This taco joint (at least the Dupont shop) is open 24/7. This means you can load up your plate full of their healthy salads and tacos, piled high with lean meats like salmon (seriously, the Nantucket is our fave), chicken, and fish. And we haven't even gotten to the house-made dressings and perfectly-cooked veggies. Who knew Mexican could be so good for you? You can also check 'em out in Glover Park.
This family-owned, farm-to-table restaurant on H Street serves one of the healthiest brunches in the city. With organic eggs, multigrain toast, and market salads forming the base of the menu, you truly can’t go wrong. We dish on their Vegan Smoked Tofu & Vegetable Hash, with bell peppers and swiss chard, or any of their seasonal scrambles. If you get a hankering for DC Harvest in the PM, they also serve an awesome dinner menu.
The chefs at the helm of this plant-based restaurant are both James Beard nominees, so you already know what you're getting is going to be nothing short of perfection. In the heart of the H St. Corridor, this intimate space offers an elevated dining experience and a menu of innovative plates and wood-fired delights. Not convinced? We've got two words for you: vegetable charcuterie. Fitt Tip: the restaurant also features a private dining area that's ideal for special events.
**Updated May 2019.