When I think of Washington D.C., wonderful restaurants, fun shopping, great museums, historical monuments, and fun night life instantly come to mind.  So, when my husband and I were considering locations for a quick one-day getaway for my birthday, the decision to visit D.C. was easy.

Our day started with a charming stroll through Georgetown where unique shops, good eats, and scenic views abound.  After window shopping on M street, we made our way to Georgetown Cupcakes for some amazing vegan cupcakes.  The line was manageable (gets longer and longer as the day progresses) and I was able to pick up my favorite vegan carrot cupcake.  We were able to wash down the cupcakes with green tea from Peet’s Coffee which is right next door.

When it was time for lunch, we headed to my all-time favorite D.C. restaurant, Zaytinya.  All it takes is one meal to journey through Spain, Greece, Lebanon, and Turkey.  Chef Jose Andres’ restaurant consistently delivers delicious and perfectly crafted mediterranean tapas dishes that are creatively prepared.  I love the fact that there are a plethora of vegan and gluten-free options to choose from.  The sleek and modern hot spot always seems to be busy no matter what time you arrive.

For our meal, we started with delicious hummus along with an asparagus salad with pistachios and watercress.  We followed with orders of perfectly cooked falafels, mushroom couscous and piyaz, which consisted of giant beans with kale, roma tomatoes, and dill.  Our order was accompanied by bottomless servings of piping hot pita and olive oil.  The best part was that the service was just as amazing as the food – fast and informed.  With have had the pleasure of trying many of Jose Andres’ restaurants and Zaytinya always tops my list!

After lunch, we went to see the National Gallery of Art.  We enjoyed and appreciated the famous paintings, sculptures, photographs, and exquisite art from all over the world. The Gallery truly is a national treasure!  We enjoyed seeing the Portrait of Ginevra Benci, the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in America.  However, our favorite part of the museum was its famous sculpture garden, which was full of contemporary and whimsical works of art.  Tired from our tour of the museum, we returned to our hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue to relax and take in the breathtaking views of the Washington Monument, Capital Building, and the Willard Hotel from our window.

Once rejuvenated, we were ready for a highly-anticipated dinner at chef Todd Gray’s restaurant, Equinox.  While not exclusively a vegetarian / vegan restaurant, the warm and elegant restaurant has an entire section of the menu dedicated to plant-based culinary creations.  We started off with a “hearts of palm” cake prepared in a delectable mint pea puree.  For our main course, we ordered potato gnocchi with spring green garlic, black trumpet mushrooms, and asparagus as well as a cauliflower tempura with tahini vinaigrette and pomegranate molasses.  All the food was not only original and plant-based, it was truly delicious.

We had the pleasure of meeting chef Gray during our visit – a passionate, humble, and incredibly talented chef – no wonder he has been nominated for the James Beard award.  Chef also informed us that Equinox serves a vegan buffet-style brunch on Sunday’s with items like tofu scramble, gazpacho, and banana flapjacks with pineapple compote.  We know where we are coming for brunch on our next D.C. getaway!

After dinner, we wrapped up our evening by checking out some vibrant lounges and strolling back to our hotel.  It was a great day in a great city; looking forward to a return visit soon!