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Must Try Fast Casual Restaurants in Washington, DC

For those of you looking to grab a quick bite in DC, you’re welcome in advance.  We’ll be featuring our favorite fast casual spots in the district today.  Stick with us ’til the very end to see what our recommendations are.

1. Shouk

Shouk has us so…shook, hardy har har.

They currently have two locations in DC proper (Union Market District & Mt. Vernon Triangle), and we honestly can’t get enough.

They’re known for their amazing plant-based eats, and they’re passionate about sustainable practices – they’re 100% wind-powered and strive to use all renewable packaging from plant sources.

We’re total carnivores, but we crave their amazing vegetarian eats all the time.  Their menu’s small but mighty, and they offer pitas, bowls, veggie burgers, hummus and more.

You can’t go wrong with any of their proteins, but we personally love their shouk burger and mushroom shawarma.

Get yours on a pita, rice & lentils bowl or mixed greens – just make sure they load you up with harissa.  Lots and lots of harissa.

Oh, and their spice fries.  Get that, too.  And some shouk BBQ sauce for dipping.

2.  Melange

2023 UPDATE: The concept has moved to 1819 7th street NW and rebranded as Melange Burger as of October of 2023. Click the link above for their menu and more information.

This spot can do no wrong.

We’ve featured their food many times before, but this wouldn’t be a legit fast casual roundup if they weren’t listed.  Located on 449 K Street NW, they offer burgers, sandwiches, ice cream and bougie milkshakes.

It’s so hard to pick favorites, but our go-to is The National:  spicy doro wat style fried chicken with kebe aioli, turmeric slaw and a fried or hard egg.  Straight up ridiculousness.  It’s almost offensive how delicious and flavorful this handheld is.

Enjoy it with a side of sweet potato fries for the ultimate lunch.  Then come and thank us afterwards.

Prefer to treat yourself to a burger?  The Double Decker’s mad tasty.  If you’re a fan of the Big Mac – and let’s be real, Big Macs are dope – you’ll absolutely love this option.

3.  ChiKo

Oh, how we love ChiKo.  Their Dupont location’s open for lunch, and you can get a snack, starter and entree all for $15.  Yay lunch combinations!

Our recommendations?  Get Sichuan spicy veggies, shrimp dumplings (….or pork and kimchi potstickers), and their mushroom mapo or 1/2 hot fried chicken sammie.

Level up your meal and treat yourself to some coconut custard for a small upcharge.  Prefer to order a la carte rather than a combo?  Get the shrimp & toast (OMFG SO GOOD), their bulgogi hoagie, and/or cumin lamb stir fry.

4.  RASA

It’s always a good day when you get to enjoy RASA!

Known for their amazing bowls, choose from pre-formed options or create your own.

We’re suckers for “Tikka Chance On Me,” but we also love building our own nom masterpieces.  For proteins, we recommend their lamb kebab, chicken tikka, and spiced beef.

They’re generous with portions, but if you’re extra hungry, get their garlic naan and an order of their mini samosas.

And we love their mango lassi, but in addition to non-alcoholic options, they offer creative cocktails like tamarind margaritas, masala gin + tonics, spicy Mumbai mules and more.

5.  NuVegan

With several locations in the DMV, NuVegan is an absolute gem.

The food’s shockingly good, and they have everything from vegan fried fish to vegan tuna mac salad.  There’s a ton to choose from, and if memory serves correctly, they allow you to taste certain items before committing.

Our usual order’s their vegan crab cakes with whatever side we feel like getting, but let us know what your favorite menu items are after you go.

Want more awesome vegan options in addition to NuVegan and Shouk?  Check out Bubbie’s, PowPow, HipCityVeg, and Farewell.

6.  Falafel Inc

It would be a crime not to list Falafel Inc so here we are.

Our first experience here was a good one – in fact so much so, we decided to feature them on Thrillist’s youtube series “$5 Lunch.”  And yes, you read that correctly.  This Georgetown gem – now expanded to various other locations in the DMV – sells $3 falafel sandwiches and $4 salad bowls.

This spot’s TINY so rent’s manageable, and they’ve come up with this crazy system that’s unbelievably efficient, which apparently allows them to magically offer super affordable eats.

Their falafel is so delicious though, no cap.  The pita’s stuffed with lettuce, red cabbage pali salad, tabouli, tahini, red sauce and of course, falafel.  It’s our go-to order + zaatar fries because they’re obscenely delicious.  Get yo mouf ready for an insane umami bomb!

7.  Pow Pow

Located on H Street, this incredible plant-based eatery’s opening a second location in downtown DC later this year.  Their “meat’s” so good, you won’t even realize it’s not meat.  For real though.

Come to enjoy colorful bowls, giant egg rolls, and “mozzarella” balls that will leave you smiling from ear to ear.  Must try options include their Trolley Fries, Taiwanese Fried Mozz, Natalie Porkman and Firecracker Fingers, BOOM!

8.  Teaism

Looking for wholesome yet nomtastic food that won’t break the bank?  Head to Teaism in Penn quarter to get your fix.

Because who wouldn’t want to enjoy a $15 fried chicken bento with broccoli & orange fennel vinaigrette, sweet potato & miso sauce, and rice.

Prefer a different protein?  Swap your poultry out for some grilled salmon, Korean beef brisket or a beet patty!  And don’t forget to get a side of broccoli tots.  Served with a tasty goat cheese and togarashi dip, you’ll be addicted at first bite.

PS.  their french toast – only available on weekends – could stop wars.  So, so good.  Get two slices and thank us afterwards.

9.  DCity Smokehouse

In the mood for fire BBQ?  Then DCity Smokehouse is the move.

They seriously have some of the best wings we’ve ever had – their dry rub SLAPS!  And the Meaty Palmer’s unbelievable.

Stuffed with turkey breast, pork belly, avo, tomato and chipotle aioli, we can pretty much guarantee you’ll love this epic handheld.  Don’t just take our word for it though!  Head on over to enjoy.

Alright Nomsters, we hope you enjoyed our latest roundup!  Let us know what your go-to fast casual spot is by leaving a comment below.  To browse more DC content, make sure to click here, and stay tuned for more noms coming your way soon.

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