10 Vegetarian Dishes in D.C. Deserving Everyone’s Immediate Attention

10 Vegetarian Dishes in D.C. Deserving Everyone’s Immediate Attention

Eating vegetarian in D.C. is becoming easier and more enjoyable as chefs are get creative with summer produce or experiment with new techniques. From a kibbeh naya that subs in tomatoes for raw lamb or vegan ramen that tastes creamy because of its almond milk base, the following 10 meat-free dishes are ones everyone should seek out before the season’s over.

Photo of Albi’s smoked tomato kibbeh naya by Kim Kong

Smoked Tomato Kibbeh Naya at Albi ($17)
1346 4th St. SE, (202) 921-9592, albidc.com

Albi in Navy Yard swaps smoked tomatoes in for raw minced lamb in a kibbeh naya. The vegetarian version of the Levantine mezze works, according to Chef Michael Rafidi, because he treats the tomatoes “like a piece of meat.” Since they’ll be finely minced in the final product, the restaurant sources “second tomatoes.” They’re too ugly for farmers to sell to shallow produce shoppers.

Rafidi smokes them over the hearth for about an hour and seasons them with kibbeh spices, pomegranate molasses, and harissa oil. Then he slides them into the oven to dehydrate, which concentrates their flavor and gives them a raisin-like quality. “We hand chop it like you would a steak tartare and mix it with bulgur and shallots,” Rafidi says. “It’s everything traditional, minus the lamb.”

The thin spread of umami-laden tomatoes comes with lettuce boats for scooping, toum, and an assortment of pickles. Once tomato season is over, Rafidi says he’ll introduce a new vegetarian kibbeh naya, like one made from a bouquet of different peppers. Try it Tuesdays through Sundays from 5 to 10 p.m.

Photo of Daru’s paneer pesto tikka by Dante Datta

Paneer Pesto Tikka at Daru ($16) 
1451 Maryland Ave. NE, instagram.com/daru.dc