My culinary vision and palate have yo-yoed over the past few years. From my childhood in Istanbul of wiping away the nectar off my peach-glossed lips in the garden to rubbing bellies over fresh catch seared in tiny fishing boats by the Bosphorus . . . My appreciation for whole foods is still intact, but the scene that provides it expands then contracts depending on my whereabouts. This is not in any way touching upon the somber note of the lack of access many face in the United States as well as worldwide to fresh foods. Food desserts are an issue as concerning as other related issues such as food waste are.
The lighter topic at hand is navigating healthy options in areas that do offer them. Having just graduated in the Amherst, MA area where farm-to-table meals are almost as expected as beer pong at a college party, it's a strange move coming back to Washington, D.C. where the movement is still growing. Many friends and readers have asked me about my go-to eats around here and although I myself am still re-navigating the scene, I decided to round up some favourite places to savour safely —accommodating anything + anyone from allergies to vegan enthusiasts to paleo noshers . . .
T H E G U I D E | D . C . E A T S
HÄLSA | Fresh market plates served in atmosphere of Scandinavian simplicity, fragrant of P.F. Candle Co. jars. They have fermented hot sauce, peppery lettuce, fresh herbs, pastured meats, and bone broth to boot!
PURÉE JUICE | One of the first juiceries that I came across around the area a few years ago, I was immediately smitten by the fact that they use glass bottles + offer a variety of clean eats. They also offer other provisions like raw chocolate . . .
GREENHEART ORGANIC | These girls [green] juice my heart with the passion + awareness they have for everything they produce. For me, juice must be fresh-to-date and organic, especially for those containing the dirty dozen. They are both and packed in glass bottles that you can bring back to be reused, another point many other juice companies are missing here in D.C. Greenheart also include a peppering of unique ingredients like zucchini, watercress, + aloe . . .
CHAIA | Originally at farmer's markets, this incredibly aware + sustainable company is soon opening up the golden gates of their brick-and-mortar in Georgetown. Petals of microgreens, clouds of goat cheese dollop, + crunch radishes are only a few of the farm-to-taco toppings that can grace your picking. Make sure to follow Chaia on Facebook + Instagram to prepare + expand your belly for their opening day . . .
SWEETGREEN | I'm deeply proud to see Sweetgreen expanded as much as they have from their humble beginnings in their first Georgetown store years ago. Not only do they serve local ingredients that support surrounding farmers and the state-wide economy but they also are committed to nutritional education.
I'm awed by their dedicated team that travels to schools to teach schoolchildren the importance of eating a rainbow of plant-based foods. Knowing that eating here is cultivating such relationships and awareness feeds me with more than food for my body.
AYSE | Another incredibly careful and aware restaurant for those with allergies or autoimmunity, going to Ayse is like going to my grandmother's house for a Turkish feast. Platters of fresh, local produce bask in buttery pools of olive oil + whole fish flakes off the bone like petals.
NOSTOS | Another Mediterranean trip for the palate, Nostos serves a variety of fresh whole fishes to be gnawed on head to tail . . .
BLACKSALT + SEA CATCH | These two—Blacksalt and Sea Catch—are my absolutely staples for seafood in the D.C. area and there's no need to mention anything beyond fresh oysters dripping with squeezes of lemon juice and steaming lobsters to whet your appetite . . .
ELEVATION BURGER | I'm not one for fast food, but if you're in a pinch + a pickle, this place offers grass-fed meat, lettuce wraps, are careful about cross-contamination, and exclusively use olive oil (which, yes, should ideally not be heated, but it's the best option to the common vegetable oils used in restaurants).
SALLY'S MIDDLE NAME | A restaurant that I had to include here even though I have yet to visit it. They hosted one of the most recent Pineapple D.C. events curated by my beautiful friend Ariel that showcases and connects women in food. I'm deeply moved by owner Aphra Adkins's commitment to a celebration of vegetables and sustainable meat + seafood. The beautiful stripped simple décor certainly elevates the senses, too . . .