Change has come in the form of a healthy dining scene favored by Washington insiders.
One indisputably successful element of Barack Obama’s capital-city tenure: while stressing over debt crises and international uprisings, he hasn’t put on a pound. Perhaps that’s because of a slew of wholesome restaurants that have hit DC in the past decade. The pre-vegan Bill Clinton had to resort to enchiladas and cinnamon rolls, but the District’s current residents have a wealth of healthy options at their disposal. In town for tomorrow's White House Correspondents' Dinner? Here’s where to eat well:
Nora became the nation’s first certified-organic restaurant in 1999, and it’s still serving simple, comforting dishes that are free of fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones. The menu’s standouts are a subtly sweet hearts of palm salad and a cod filet served with pomegranate seeds and roasted beets.
Mobama came to this Georgetown-area spot last May and feasted on its famed fresh-fish dishes, including curried-chickpea-topped halibut and tilefish with pork belly and baby octopus on the side. But she missed out on Blacksalt’s best dish: a light, saffrony bouillabaisse that’s brimming with omega-3-packed lean proteins: monkfish, scallops, oysters, mussels and shrimp.
A favorite of tatted hipsters in the cool Columbia Heights neighborhood, this vegan café is known for its cupcakes: a special chocolate-seltzer recipe won the Food Network’s "Cupcake Wars" last spring, and the carrot cake flavor is the best regular offering. But it also serves tasty breakfast burritos and grilled “cheese” (made with daiya) that even omnivores can appreciate.
In an airy farmhouse of a building three blocks from the White House, Founding Farmers only uses meat and produce culled from boutique, family-run farms. At brunch, get the beet, goat cheese and leek hash; for dinner, order the famous fried green tomatoes (in a whole grain cornmeal batter), and salmon prepared with sea salt, cracked pepper and fresh lemon. An all-day vegan menu includes waffles, salads and a veggie-patty melt.
Sweetgreen is like an earthier, tastier, more attractive version of Chop’t, and its salads made from local, organic ingredients have fans in everyone from celebrities (Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington) to food snobs (Joe Bastianich, “Top Chef” alum Spike Mendelsohn). Order the seasonal salad; a medley of just-picked veggies and fruits and ripe cheeses from Maryland and Virginia farms.