Lower Dupont is becoming a prime spot for meatless dining, with brick-and-mortars such as Soupergirl, Protein Bar, and Science Club and frequent stops from the Woodlands Vegan Bistro food truck. Add another to that list as of Tuesday: Native Foods Café, a 116-seat vegetarian and vegan chain out of California opening near 18th and M streets, Northwest.
Don’t confuse the restaurant with Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe, located in the National Museum of the American Indian. The new spot is entirely meat-free, though you couldn’t necessarily tell that from a look at the globally inspired menu. A mix of sandwiches, salads, and bowls include items like an Oklahoma bacon cheeseburger (made with house-made seitan and smoked tofu “bacon”) and a taco salad with faux ground meat, roasted corn, and salsa fresca. There are also plenty of purely veggie dishes for those who don’t like eating mock mammals, such as a summer roll with braised lemongrass tofu and a supergreens salad. Vegans can also opt for “native cheese” fashioned from cashews and sunflower seeds.
Native Foods also brings a few new elements to veg-friendly, fast-casual dining. Its tempeh and seitan are house-made daily, as are dressings, sauces, and desserts. The restaurant offers a separate kids menu with dishes like soy and gluten-free pastas and “chicken” nuggets (all gently priced at $4.95), while adults can opt for local brews and Parducci wines.
Look for more locations to debut within the next year, including a Penn Quarter branch soon.