DC hasn’t traditionally been known for Mexican food but the Mexican food scene here is actually surprisingly good, with a bunch of good taquerias and well as spots for other types of authentic fare, such as Oyamel and La Puerta Verde. While Taco-ma Yucatán Chicken does serve tacos (hence the punny name) it specializes in rotisserie chicken, often referred to as Peruvian chicken but called Yucatán chicken here and is seasoned with spices typical of the Yucatán. With cute decor, friendly staff, reasonable prices, and tasty rotisserie chicken, this is a solid spot for a casual and quick meal.
Taco-ma Yucatán Chicken is located at 353 Cedar St NW.
Soupergirl is a vegan and kosher soup and sandwich shop located at 314 Carroll St NW in Takoma. This friendly, casual neighborhood spot happens to be one of a small handful of places to get kosher prepared food in DC (alongside Char Bar, Brooklyn Sandwich Co. and some pre-prepared items at the Holocaust Museum). For the sake of my kosher-observant friends, I really appreciate that Soupergirl offers an additional option in DC’s small kosher food scene. I happen to not be a huge fan of soups in general, and those soups that I do like are generally not vegetarian or vegan: matzoh ball soup (though I cook a fantastic vegetarian version), clam chowder, French onion soup, harira, borscht, pho and wonton soup. As you may imagine, I found Soupergirl’s soup (I had a version of minestrone) a bit bland for my taste. I got a soup and sandwich combo and actually liked the sandwich better, which had mushrooms and grilled onions on it. Despite my personal dislike of vegetable soup, people who do like vegetable soup will enjoy this friendly, healthy spot. A huge plus is that they have all of their hot soups out with tasting cups so you can taste each soup before deciding which one to order.
La Mano Coffee Bar is a coffee shop located in Takoma at 304 Carroll St NW. Once you get past the fairly unattractive exterior with fogged up windows, this is a cool little place (though seating is pretty limited and it’s not a comfy spot to hang out for too long). The coffee drinks are tasty, with a number of single origin choices, and the staff is friendly. Hours are limited, though (they close at 6 pm daily).
Vegaritos is a vegan burrito place located at 6904 4th St NW in Takoma. Since Takoma/Takoma Park is a mecca for vegan food (given the historic Seventh Day Adventist influence in the area) it’s hardly a surprise to find a vegan burrito place here. I love the concept of the place and at $6.99 for a burrito, the prices are reasonable. The place is bright and friendly as well. Of course, I can’t expect a vegan burrito to taste quite like the real thing; vegan meats and cheeses are getting more convincing every day, but still aren’t quite there yet. I do appreciate that they don’t charge extra for guac (I’m looking at you, Chipotle) but where they fell short for me was the rice. They make Mission-style burritos, so rice is a major component. Their rice choices are brown rice and jasmine rice, and I happen to hate brown rice so I chose the jasmine rice. The rice was simply too mushy- in a burrito, the rice has to have some substance to it, but the texture of this rice really took away from the burrito. They would be much better off putting yellow rice or Chipotle-style lime rice or even the rice component of West African jollof rice instead in the burrito. If they did this, they’d earn at least another star.
I can’t believe it’s not mac and cheese!
Evolve Restaurant is a vegan soul food restaurant located at 341 Cedar St NW. As a result of the influence of the Seventh Day Adventists (Takoma Park was their headquarters until they moved to Silver Spring in 1989), Takoma and Takoma Park are a mecca for vegan and vegetarian eating in the DC area. Evolve is far from a crunchy, grungy, granola-eating kind of place. It has the ambiance of a casual but sophisticated restaurant, along with a full bar. It is totally date material, if the person you’re going on a date with is vegetarian or vegan. I ordered Evolve’s most popular combo (at least according to my waitress) which consisted of fried fake chicken with collard greens and dairy-free mac and cheese (it’s vegan so it must be healthy, right??). The “fried chicken” itself was okay; the batter was a bit too thin for my liking and slid off the fake chicken a bit too easily. The “chicken” itself was a fairly average meatless rendition of chicken, which is to say it was decent enough. The collards were perfectly good collards.The mac and cheese, on the other hand, was the star of the show; it was not only a convincing imitation of mac and cheese but it was actually good mac and cheese in its own right. I have no idea what magic Evolve pulled off to make that happen, but my taste buds were pleased. If you order a main course and two sides as I did, it comes to $11, which is a very reasonable price for what is a huge amount of food (I’m a big eater and I couldn’t finish my meal). Next time I go, I want to try the drumsticks which are actually on a “bone” (I have no idea what said bone is made out of, which is kind of scary). In addition, my waitress was very friendly. This is a great place to eat if you’re curious about trying tasty vegan renditions of soul-food classics, if you’re with a vegan or vegetarian friend, or if you yourself are vegetarian or vegan. If you’re just looking for fried chicken, the imitation at Evolve is not going to cut it for you (but I suspect you already knew that).