10 Delicious Vegetarian Dishes for Winter in Washington

Beat the chill with these warming meatless dishes.

Saffron zucca with butternut squash and wild mushrooms from Red Hen. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Ful with eggs at Keren Restaurant and Coffee Shop

1780 Florida Ave., NW

If there’s a hidden gem of breakfast cuisines, it’s Ethiopian. Start a chilly day with an excellent coffee and a warming bowl of ful, stewed fava beans, topped with scrambled eggs, chopped tomatoes and peppers, and savory yogurt. The casual eatery also serves Eritrean specialties, such as eggs with silsi, a fiery pepper sauce.

Eggplant Parmesan sandwich at Bub and Pop’s

1815 M St., NW

Bub’s is all about big flavors, and the veggie sandwich options are no different. Crispy slices of eggplant are smothered in marinara, aged provolone, caramelized onion, and toasty hazelnut gremolata. Don’t eat cheese? A vegan option stuffed with a garden’s worth of roasted vegetables is also tasty—order a half-portion of either unless you want to feel like a stuffed cabbage.

Soondubu soup at Vit Goel (Lighthouse tofu and barbecue)

4121 Chatelain Rd., Annandale

Bubbling cast-iron pots of the spicy Korean soup called soondubu are a house specialty, and can come in meaty and meatless varieties. For the latter, order the red pepper broth with creamy cubes of tofu and mushrooms, plus a raw egg for cracking and cooking into the steamy brew.

Saffron zucca at Red Hen

1822 First St., NW

Omnivores flock to Red Hen for bowls of rigatoni with sausage ragu, but this vegetarian pasta delivers the same level of comfort. Pumpkin-shaped zucca noodles perfectly cup a silky sauce of butternut squash, while an earthy mix of mild mushrooms, toasted almonds, and sage makes you want to curl up with the bowl.

Organic tofu Reuben at the Randy Radish

506 Shaw Rd., Sterling; food truck location rotates daily

“Creative plant-based cuisine” is the motto of this cafe and sister food truck, which tours around Northern Virginia. Both serve an unexpectedly delicious vegan “Reuby” that will impress even pastrami lovers. Spiced organic tofu, caramelized kraut, and a smoky, creamy dressing are piled high on toasty rye.

Daily grilled cheese and tomato soup at Ris

2275 L St., NW; Union Market stall at 1309 Fifth St., NE

Few dishes are more comforting than grilled cheese and tomato soup, and chef Ris Lacoste‘s versions are among the best. The combo is served at lunch in the Foggy Bottom restaurant and all day from the Union Market stall. Look for melty provolone and goat cheese with poblano peppers on crisp sourdough, with a side of creamy tomato soup for dunking.

Masala dosa with chutney at Woodlands

8046 New Hampshire Ave., Langley Park; 4078 Jermantown Rd., Fairfax

Head to these vegetarian Indian spots for some of the best dosas in Washington. The thin rice crepes come with a variety of tasty fillings, but a raw winter day calls for the version stuffed with spiced potatoes and onions and served with hot chutney.

Mushroom bibimbap at BUL

2431 18th St., NW

The satisfaction of digging into a warm Korean rice bowl isn’t limited to meat eaters at this new Adams Morgan spot, specializing in street fare. The traditional ground beef is swapped out for shiitake, oyster, and portabella mushrooms, flanked by bean sprouts, zucchini, and carrots, and topped with spicy red pepper sauce. Add a runny egg for extra protein.

Crispy tofu Napoleon at Proof

775 G St., NW

Plenty of upscale restaurants default to pastas for their vegetarian option, but chef Haidar Karoum embraces tofu, transforming it into an elegant main instead of an afterthought. Perfectly textured blocks—crisp on the outside, custard-like within—are layered with roasted mushrooms, bok choy, and seasonal vegetables, and finished with an addictive chili-garlic sauce.

Meatless mapo tofu at Great Wall Szechuan

1527 14th St., NW

This mouth-tingling Szechuan dish is often made with ground pork, but you won’t miss the meat in Great Wall’s vegetarian version. Silky tofu, fermented black beans, and scallions are tossed in a fiery chili sauce, served with jasmine rice to tame the heat. Another plus: Swift carryout and delivery in the area lend the possibility of tackling this comfort dish in pajamas.

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.