Vegan and GF Dining at Open City

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Last night, the lovely Ms. Valerie and I decided to give Open City a try for our long overdue ladies’ dinner. I’ve been to Open City countless times for coffee (they make a mean dark roast, and pretty stellar soy cappuccinos) but never for food. Since Valerie is gluten free, I figured this would be a good destination for us: Open City features a pretty sizeable GF menu, including pizzas and quinoa dishes, as well as plenty of vegan options for moi.

Since it was a dry, breezy night in DC—what a rarity!—we decided to sit in the patio area:

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Where we were quite graciously served by Lara, who was super helpful when it came to all of our food questions (“are you SURE there’s no butter in that? The quinoa is TOTALLY gluten free, right?”) and had some good suggestions, like the blueberry iced tea (yum):

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We began by splitting a hummus platter, and we were both impressed with the hummus:

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For our main courses, we each got a large house salad with smoked paprika vinaigrette. This dressing was absolutely amazing; I have to try to recreate it!

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We also split the quinoa with broccoli and summer corn. It wanted salt, to be sure, but it was tasty enough, and quite honestly I was just excited to see such a healthy and non-traditional option on a DC menu:

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Finally, we each got a side of roast veggies. These were too oily for my taste, but I liked the selection (eggplant, peppers, summer squash):

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Again, the restaurant gets points for an easy-to-veganize menu: tons of veg-friendly sides, whole grains, whole grain sides, BIG salads, breadless pizzas, and more. Plus, they even have some really tasty vegan baked goods (I’ve tried the muffins for myself)!

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A for effort, Open City.

Lara, our server, told us that she’s actually been a vegetarian for twelve years now, and is striving to be vegan. We had a quick chat about protein, and she confessed that she finds it hard to work in the restaurant business while also maintaining a vegan diet. I told her that it can be helpful to bring lunches and snacks to work, no matter where you work. And since she’s also working on her protein, I mentioned that she can make smoothies at the restaurant with little packets of Vega or another protein powder. She was really exuberant and motivated, and a delight to chat with. Lara, I hope you take the big leap!

Overall, I think Open City is a solid option for vegan diners, and an even better option for GF diners. It’s a crowd pleaser, and no matter what, you can always finish the night off with a silky sip of espresso.


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  1. So fun! I do love the coffee at Open City, but I had no idea they had vegan baked goods. I actually haven’t been there since my pre-vegan days! Obviously I need to remedy that stat.

  2. After an epic fight with Windows Livewriter, I have freed several draft posts that were refusing to publish, including the one on our lovely dinner. Thanks again for a lovely evening 🙂

  3. A propos of nothing – I want to make zucchini “noodles” for my daughter. Any suggestions for a reasonable spiralizer?

  4. Sounds like a pretty solid meal! I love finding easy-to-veganize places. Not that I don’t love entirely vegan places, but when my boyfriend and I dine out with a group it’s usually easier to keep everyone happy when there are some omni options.

    Awesome for giving the waitress tips on veganism!!

  5. The place looks great! I say the same about the oil just about everywhere, including raw places!! Since I don’t add oil in general, it is always above what I think is “normal”. (Which is non 🙂
    And Salt. But I know that other people still eat lots of oil & lots of salt and especially GF or vegan food-it’s like they think they have to “boost” the flavor! So cool that a “normal” place has such good selection & knowledge of vegan/gf issues.

  6. I love how so many restaurants have GF options now. It makes it a lot easier to dine out! However, I still think most omni restaurants should be more vegan friendly. I love places like this, because a group of people with different dietary preferences can all enjoy a meal together under the same roof. Even living in LA, where there is a lot of restaurant diversity and an increasingly strong effort to accommodate every eater, I find that it’s still difficult for my family to agree on a place where everyone wants to eat, especially now that I’m a gluten-free eater. I should remember Open City if we ever go visit my stepsister in DC. She’s moving there for school this month!

  7. I love when I’m pleasantly surprised to get a good veggie meal at a restaurant. The quinoa dish looked really good! I don’t know why people feel there needs to be so much oil on roasted veggies. I tried to explain that to my mom all the time that you can make very delicious roasted veggies with a fraction of the oil, but it took a trip to Dr. Furhman’s office for my dad’s heart condition to change her mind!

  8. I LOVE that you spread the vegan love everywhere you go. I hope that Laura goes for it too! It is so awesome when you get a real sized salad, there is nothing more disappointing than a tiny plate of iceberg lettuce and a few tomato wedges.

  9. Wow, what a coincidence! I’ve been to DC twice, and both times I’ve been to Open City. Their homemade veggie burger is really, really tasty, if you ever have the chance to go back!

    I am moving there in a week for college. Can’t wait to go 🙂

  10. The the quinoa with broccoli and summer corn looks good. The too oily veggies…sigh. It’s either dry iceburg lettuce salads or greasy veggies..from one extreme to the other..well, hey, at least they tried.

    And most of all, glad you had the time with Valerie! There is NO substitute for girl talk, one on one time, real human connection and interaction does wonders for the soul, especially when we all have so much on our plates and are so busy and have so much going I know you do.

    Glad you two girls could meet up..and sip on a delish looking blueberry iced tea too 🙂