Hold The Big Mac: 8 Healthy (Delicious!) Dining Spots In D.C.

Here's the understatement of the year: We're stoked for fall. We're more than ready to swap our sundresses for snug pencil skirts and skinny jeans – but a season of burgers and Baskin Robbins hasn’t exactly left us feeling svelte and sexy. But, instead of attempting an extreme workout plan or a crazy-intense diet, we've decided to keep it simple: Effective immediately, we're filling the week with more healthy meals than unhealthy ones. Pretty clever, right?
To help in this noble quest, we've compiled a short list of the DMV's best restos, cafes, and grab-and-go spots that focus on vegetables, offer reasonable portions, and promote healthy living. We found a batch of amazing locales that offer delicious, nutritionally balanced meals, but hardly seem like health-food joints (Translation: You can cut down on your caloric intake without alienating your friends.) Click through to see our top picks and get the scoop on what to order.
Advertisement
1 of 16
Sweetgreen is a locally owned, organic, quick-service chain with a make-your-own salad concept that makes healthy eating feel genuinely cool. The menu is organized by types of lettuce, veggies, and proteins (including tofu, a rarity on most menus), and offers vegan and gluten-free dressing options (like the carrot-chili vinaigrette). We also love the gazpacho – so perfect for a muggy afternoon.


Photo: Courtesy of Sweetgreen
2 of 16
Once you've had your fill of salads and wraps, make a second trip to order a serving of Sweetflow, the deliciously tart frozen yogurt.

Where: Sweetgreen has multiple locations in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. See a full list of locations here.


Photo: Courtesy of Sweetgreen
3 of 16
Agora in Dupont Circle serves up healthy, traditional Greek and Turkish cuisine, and promotes portion control with small plates. Try the labneh and other spreads, or our favorite: Strained yogurt with diced apples, walnuts, and endives.


Photo: Courtesy of Agora
4 of 16
We're especially fond of Agora for the open-air dining and delish salads, including the beet salad and the kaşik salad with diced tomatoes, onions, parsley, cucumber, and feta cheese. It's so good, you’ll forget it’s good for you.

Where: Agora, 527 17th Street NW; 202-332-6767.


Photo: Courtesy of Agora
5 of 16
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm puts the most literal spin possible on "farm-to-table." The kitchen serves up fresh produce sourced from the restaurant's own fields, and the menu is filled with fare from sustainable fisheries and local livestock producers in the area.


Photo: Courtesy of The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Advertisement
6 of 16
The best part: You’ll never have the same experience twice — the menu changes with the season, and at the chef’s whim. It’s a dream spot for a dinner date, both for the unique menu and the amazing views of the Potomac River.

Where: The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, 42461 Lovettsville Road, Lovettsville; 540-822-9017. Reservations required.
7 of 16
Lebanese Taverna adheres to its namesake cuisine’s traditional cooking style: Healthy proteins such as lean meats and fresh seafood are grilled, baked, or sautéed, then paired with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.


Photo: Courtesy of Lebanese Taverna
8 of 16
The Lebanese dishes alone earn this restaurant chain a spot on our list, but the extensive gluten-free menu makes it a true crowd-pleaser.

Where: Lebanese Taverna has multiple locations in the Washington metro area. Click here for a complete list.


Photo: Courtesy of Lebanese Taverna
9 of 16
Find guilt-free treats of both the sweet and savory varieties at Sticky Fingers Bakery in Columbia Heights. Vegan baked goods are the specialty here, and if you thought butter and eggs were necessary ingredients for a great pastry, this spot dares you to think again — everything on the menu is delicious, and there's not an animal product in sight.


Photo: Courtesy of Sticky Fingers Bakery
10 of 16
Owner Doron Petersan is something of a celeb in the healthy-baking world — she won the Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" competition, and has published a vegan cookbook.

Where: Sticky Fingers Bakery, 1370 Park Road NW; 202-299-9700. Bakery items are also sold at wholesale locations in the D.C. metro region and Whole Foods stores.


Photo: Courtesy of Sticky Fingers Bakery/Chris Crisman
Advertisement
11 of 16
Amsterdam Falafelshop is our pick for a fast-food upgrade — and many a late-night Adams Morgan reveler will agree. If you’re craving fried food, you can’t do better than chickpea falafel, and this Netherlands-inspired hotspot makes it fresh on the spot and lets you add your own toppings.


Photo: Courtesy of Amsterdam Falafelshop
12 of 16
The health-conscious way to do falafel? Load up on the veggies and hummus, and skip the cream sauces. But don't worry; there are some options for those who want to break the rules every now and then, too. Think French fries and brownies.

Where: Amsterdam Falafelshop, 2425 18th Street NW; 202-234-1969.


Photo: Courtesy of Amsterdam Falafelshop
13 of 16
Café Green's menu is 100% vegetarian, with a wide array of gluten-free and raw options, so health-conscious foodies can’t go wrong here. The outdoor patio is an added treat on nice days.


Photo: Courtesy of Café Green
14 of 16
Try the mango-kale salad or the raw pizza with veggies, tomato spread, and guacamole for a light, tasty lunch. Or you can opt for our favorite: the famed house-made veggie burger.

Where: Café Green, 1513 17th Street NW; 202-234-0505.


Photo: Courtesy of Café Green
15 of 16
Zest American Bistro is a locally owned (and refreshingly low-key) dining spot on Barracks Row. The menu is stocked with seasonal ingredients, fresh seafood, plenty of vegetarian options (like the beet carpaccio salad), and perfectly proportioned plates.


Photographed by Holly E. Thomas
16 of 16
This is an ideal place for a light brunch or a casual, comforting dinner. The “Have It Your Way” omelette can be customized with egg whites to help you stay svelte, while the miso cod entree boasts loads of fresh flavors and a satisfying crunch from crispy udon noodles.

Where: Zest American Bistro, 735 8th Street SE; 202-544-7171.


Photo: Courtesy of Zest American Bistro
Advertisement