Saturday, September 29, 2012

Restaurant Roundup: Fresh Pizzeria, Au Bon Pain, Black Market Bistro and Chipotle

A busy week prepping for one of my office's major events meant a lot of eating out this week.  I feel like the times when people are pressed for time and on the go are the times when it's easy to fall off the vegan wagon.  Fortunately, there are a ton of options available to make eating out as a vegan easy.

After a late work night Thursday, my husband and I decided to try Fresh Pizzeria on Rockville Pike.  I was disappointed when Z Pizza closed, since it was a reliable source of vegan pizza.  When Fresh Pizzeria took over the space, fortunately, they decided to keep the vegan pizza options open, offering daiya cheese and vegan burger crumbles, and a variety of vegan pies to choose from.

I tried the Vegan Garden Pizza. without olives.  The crust was good and the veggie toppings were fresh.  Additional vegan menu options include the Vegan Fiesta, which has black beans and guacamole, and the Vegan Burger.  You can also make your own vegan pizza.  Also, if you're gluten free, any pizza can be made with a gluten free crust.

Friday, I had to grab a quick lunch before running back to my desk, so I hit up Au Bon Pain.  There are at least five Au Bon Pain locations in walking distance to my office, so it's incredibly convenient.  They seem to have moved away from the "make your own sandwich" slips to more of a set menu, but they will still happily make an off menu sandwich for you.  I chose multigrain bread, avocado, arugula, tomato, onion and cucumbers.  The woman making my sandwich couldn't believe that I didn't want mayo, but I assured her the avocado made an excellent condiment.

I also had a chance to peruse the soups, which are clearly labeled with their ingredients, including milk, so it's easy to choose a vegan soup.  I went with the Barley & Creamy Lentil ,which I found to be hearty and flavorful.

I wish Au Bon Pain had a vegan sandwich on its set menu, but since they offer a variety of veggies, it's easy to make your own sandwich.  Most of the breads are vegan, but note that some include dairy, including the Ciabatta and the Cornbread.  The soup menu includes a plethora of vegan options, including the 12 Veggie, Black Bean, Tomato Lentil, Gazpacho, Tuscan White Bean and Vegetarian Chili.  Not all soups are available every day, but there should be at least one vegan option.

Friday night, we took my parents to Black Market Bistro in Garrett Park.  Black Market Bistro is located in a historic post office, and tucked away in a residential neighborhood, over by the Garrett Park MARC  station.  One of my favorite things about Black Market Bistro are the quality of their salads.  Last night, I had the Black Market Salad, which was a variety of lettuces, orange wedges and almonds with a citrus vinaigrette.  The salad normally comes with goat cheese, but the kitchen was happy to leave it off.

For dinner, I opted for the Black Market Vegetable Plate.  When I asked the server if it was appropriate for a vegan, she shared that the chef normally finishes the dish with butter, but that they could easily omit it.

The veggie plate changes regularly, based on what fresh vegetables are available.  My plate included eggplant, yellow squash, broad beans, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots and wax beans.  It was beautifully seasoned with a variety of fresh herbs and sea salt. As you can see, the portion is enormous, but I easily got three meals out of the plate above, which helps soften the $22 price tag.

Today, my husband and I were running a bunch of errands, and we ended up grabbing a quick lunch at Chipotle.  Chipotle is a fantastic choice for vegans.  Choosing a black bean burrito or bowl with a peppers and onions, any of a variety of salsas and guacamole will make a hearty, satisfying meal.  As it's clearly stated on the Chipotle website and on signage, the pinto beans are cooked with pork, so stick with the black beans if you want to stay vegan. 

My preferred meal is a burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, peppers and onions, fresh tomato salsa, chili corn salsa, guacamole and lettuce.

I know living in the DC area means I have a ton of food options, but, no matter where you live, vegan options can be plentiful.  What are some of your favorite vegan menu options?

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