Now Open: The Vegetarian-Friendly Native Foods Café 

The California-based chain debuts downtown with an entirely meat-free menu.

Native Foods Café brings more vegetarian and vegan dining options to Dupont. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

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. 

Native Foods Café. 1150 Connecticut Ave., NW. Monday through Friday 10:30 to 10, Saturday and Sunday, 11 to 9. Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.