Dairy-Free in D.C.
Last week, I explored D.C. while attending the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference. While I had a blast at the conference and enjoyed exploring a new city, the food situation proved to be a bit problematic.
Despite accidentally consuming dairy one evening, I found a few options in the D.C. area that were worth writing about. The first place you should check out if you don't eat dairy (or if you're vegan) is Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats.
Whether you're looking for baked goods or something savory, Sticky Fingers has you covered. I began my eating with a cup of vegan mac n' cheese. I have no idea how they made their mac n' cheese, but it was warm, gooey, and delicious.
For dessert, I only had two sweets. It was hard to figure out what I wanted. First, I opted for one of the sweet specials: the chocolate covered strawberry cupcake. A strawberry cake topped with vanilla frosting and chocolate ganache, this cupcake screamed Valentine's Day. As a whole, this cupcake was perfect. The cake tasted strawberry, but not artificial. If I could make frosting that delicious, I'd be set. It was fluffy and had the right amount of sweetness. The ganache and the strawberry tied the cupcake together. The only flaw in this cake was the bake. Although the majority of the cupcake was moist, the top was a bit overdone. Without the frosting or the ganache, the cupcake was kind of average. Strawberry cupcakes rely on the topping.
Because I couldn't leave without eating another dessert, I bought a pecan bourbon sandwich cookie. The frosting was just as good in the cookie as it was on the cupcake. The cookies themselves were a little too buttery. The butter flavor overwhelmed the other flavors, but it was still good. I wished the cookies were a bit softer, but that's not to say I wouldn't eat another one.
On my last day in D.C., we ventured to Rise Bakery, D.C.'s only dedicated gluten-free bakery. I was excited to try their gluten-free, dairy-free cupcake; however, there weren't any dairy-free cupcakes left. We got there in the afternoon, so the options were pretty limited. I settled for a piece of flourless chocolate cake and a bag of vegan chocolate chip cookies. Flourless chocolate cake isn't my favorite, but this was a good one. It had the right amount of chocolate fudge quality.
The vegan chocolate chip cookie was exactly what I was looking for. The chocolate was chocolate chunks and added chocolate throughout the whole cookie. It was crunchy, but had a good amount of softness.
For dinner, we ate at Busboys and Poets. Their menu was extremely allergy aware. I debated between a vegan quesadilla and nachos, but the nachos won. Outside of my own kitchen, these were the best vegan nachos I’ve eaten.
For dessert, I had a warm brownie with a scoop of soy vanilla ice cream. I was in heaven. I can't tell you the last time I ate anything à la mode. The brownie was gooey and paired perfectly with vanilla ice cream.
Overall, D.C. was not as dairy-free as I wanted. At Thally, my only options were side dishes. Main dishes were full of cream and/or butter. The side dishes were tasty, but after a long day of panels and wandering around the city, I needed something more substantial.
I left D.C. wishing that Denver had a Busboys and Poets. We're not lacking in allergy-friendly options in the mile high city; however, the venue was just as appealing as the food. A bookstore with a separate events room for readings, I want to be a regular at Busboys and Poets. Their artwork was spot-on. If I ever find myself in D.C. again, I’ll be eating as many meals as possible at Busboys and Poets.