We might favor our happy hours and boozy brunches, but every Washingtonian values two things: their gym membership and eating clean. There are more than enough healthy eats to go around — from your weekday staples (hello Sweetgreen, my old friend) to date night out.
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 even your meat-eater friends will get food-envy for options like “Philly Steak” and Crispy HipCity Ranch. Pair with sweet potato fries or one of their awesome salads for a totally Fitt-approved, plant-based meal. Come to 712 7th St. NW to see what we’re talking about!
Has Sweetgreen expanded to nearly half the country? Yes. Will we ever stop bragging that it’s a DC brand? 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. By now, you’ve concocted your own signature salad—one that always gets food envy from your coworkers—that practically deserves to be on the billboard. And hey, with the menu changing seasonally, maybe it will.
Yet another DC brand making the rounds across the US (cheers to that), CAVA is our go-to choice when wanting to indulge in 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 locations all across the city, like Dupont, Chinatown, Shaw, and Navy Yard, you have ample opportunity to come in for a quick bite.
The Little Beet
One of our all-time favorite lunch spots in Dupont, 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 Power Sweets grain bowl and the Brussel Hustle salad — all made with the freshest, seasonal ingredients.
Even the most die-hard carnivore can appreciate the plants-only menu at Shouk. Just in between Mt. Vernon and Chinatown, Shouk lays claim to the best veggie burger 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 on a veggie bowl. Either way, we insist you pair it with polenta fries — so good, you’ll never go back to potatoes.
Fox Loves Taco
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. Fitt Tip: make this your next destination for Taco Tuesday, where it’s buy-two-get-one-free tacos all day.
When you just want a burger and fries, your best choice is to choose the highest-quality ingredients you can find — which is what Capitol Hill’s EatBar strives to do. From the makers of our preferred butcher, Red Apron, EatBar uses only grass-fed beef and Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) pork. If you’re a plants-only person, we recommend the Groundswell, a rice-cashew-mushroom patty topped with chimichurri and avocado. For the carnivores, shoot for The Standard (your all-American cheeseburger) or El Jefe, made with chorizo.
Timber Pizza Co.
Looking for a healthy pizza option? We followed their brick oven to every farmers market even before Timber Pizza Co. landed their own storefront. Their wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizzas are drool-worthy enough to satisfy even the most hardcore pizza snobs. 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 these superfoods-in-a-glass meals. With recipes like Coconut Colada (coconut, pineapple, banana) and PB No J (almond milk, banana, acai, peanut butter), your healthy lunch tastes JUST as good as dessert (or better?).
Chaia offers plant-based, seasonal tacos in flavors we promise you have never tried before. Their Creamy Kale and Sweet Potato was an instant favorite here at Fitt, but we also love the Smoky Collard Greens and Chipotle Sweet Potato Hash. If you’re partial to breakfast tacos (raises hand), hit their Georgetown (and soon-to-be Penn Quarter) spot on the weekends where you can an egg to any taco for just $1.
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.
Sally’s Middle Name
It’s hard to name our favorite dish at Sally’s Middle Name because their menu changes daily. They combine seasonal produce with some of your favorite comfort foods, always coming up with fresh, inventive dishes like butternut squash green curry and rye berry risotto. Great for brunch or dinner, this H Street go-to sources sustainable ingredients whenever possible. They actually post their vendors right on their website (down to the beer list) so you know precisely where your meal is coming from.
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. Sourced from the area’s finest farms and purveyors, 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. Not to mention the house-made dressings and all the veggies. Who knew Mexican could be so good for you?
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 Local Vegetable Hash—with cubanelle peppers and swiss chard—and Roasted Crimini Mushroom scramble with kale and goat cheese.
**Updated by Hannah Durbin, November 2018