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Autumn 2008 - Act•ionLine

by Dustin Garrett Rhodes | Autumn 2008

Restaurant Review: Soul Vegetarian

Soul Vegetarian: Embracing Southern Comfort

The U.S. capital is home to many a vegan. But who knew? For Washington has a dearth of vegan restaurants. I moved here from a much smaller, Southern city that features inventive, delicious vegan food at practically every restaurant in town. Not that there isn’t inventive and fantastic vegan food in DC; but you do have to look a little harder.

A Southerner born and raised, I live for Southern-inspired vegan food. It’s my cultural identity, and my culinary passion. Think sautéed kale and collards, barbequed tofu, sweet potato biscuits, vegan macaroni and cheese and corn bread -- my mouth waters as I write. In Washington, D.C., there’s one place to get the ultimate vegan comfort food: Soul Vegetarian.

Located in the historic Shaw neighborhood, on Georgia Avenue opposite Howard University, Soul Vegetarian is one of a chain of fourteen restaurants in places around the globe. With its soy milkshakes, cheese-steak sandwiches with grilled peppers and onions and all kinds of greens and barbequed things, the menu at first seems the opposite of health food, but it’s completely free from animal fat. This is the kind of food that you can eat now and then just because it tastes outrageously good.

But before I wax poetic about the collard greens, let me get the criticism out of the way. When I first moved here, friends warned me about the service at Soul Vegetarian, and rightly so. You must go to Soul Vegetarian knowing that -- unless you order off of the daily special’s menu which is already prepared and waiting -- your order requires an inordinate amount of time. Always. It’s a fact of life, like the perfection that is Soul Vegetarian’s famous macaroni and cheese.

The food, in my opinion, is worth the wait.

The menu comprises a daily hot bar featuring items like spicy collard greens, yams, curried cabbage, pepper steak and barbequed tofu. The hot bar is always new and different, and always delicious. There is also a made-to-order menu that features burgers, cheese-steak sandwiches and vegan takes on chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes, along with fresh juices, soy shakes and smoothies.

There is also a Sunday brunch. Wonderful desserts, too. If you live for sweet potato pie, you’re in luck. Best yet, the prices are pretty low, with most dinner dishes priced less than $10.

The restaurant itself is frills-free, with a few spare tables downstairs and an upstairs dining area that’s a little more aesthetically appealing. But Soul Vegetarian is the kind of place that you go to do one thing, and one thing only: eat delicious Southern food.

Soul Vegetarian
2606 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington , DC 20001
Open Monday-Saturday 11:00am- 9:00pm, Sunday 11:00am- 3:00pm

Dustin Garrett Rhodes

Act•ionLine Autumn 2008

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