Gluten Free Vegan Dining at Open City Diner

by Valerie on August 16, 2011 · 11 comments

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Last Friday, I was lucky that my schedule and Gena’s aligned so we had a lovely meal on one of the very few nights it was pleasant enough to sit outside.  We were both coming off grueling weeks, so the combination of fantastic company, a nice setting and good food was just what was needed.  It seems like Gena felt the same way!

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Gena suggested Open City Diner as they have a gluten-free menu.   

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I called the restaurant to ask about gluten cross-contamination prevention – while the restaurant does not have a dedicated gluten-free station, I felt pretty comfortable with the representations made.  For example, the kitchen staff is trained in cross-contamination, no flat-top grill use for gluten-free items, separate saute pans for individual gluten-free meals.  The pizza is from Still Riding and Open City makes use of the screens that Still Riding provides to bake the pizza.  (note, Still Riding pizza is not vegan as it contains egg whites. For gluten-free vegan pizza crust, check out Pete’s Apizza).  Bottom line, the gluten-free menu is pretty extensive.

There are also quite a few vegan options on the menu, though not too many that are both gluten-free and vegan.  Fortunately, there were enough to put together a pretty fantastic meal with multiple course, as well as a few more gluten-free vegan sides I am planning to try when I return. 

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We also had the nicest waitress ever – Lara was so patient with our multiple questions (including my “can you confirm the quinoa is really gluten-free”) and she was the one who suggested we try the blueberry iced tea, which was unsweetened and scrumptiously refreshing. 

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We split the hummus plate – as someone who considers hummus a food group, I will attest that this was an impressive hummus.  Well-seasoned and satisfying. We also both got the large house salads with smoky paprika vinaigrette, which was amazing.

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We also shared the quinoa with corn and broccoli.  I so rarely see quinoa on a restaurant menu, I always get really excited.  This quinoa needed salt, but once that was remedied, it was quite delicious:

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I also ordered the tofu scramble, which Gena tried as well – it is a mixture of tahini, chickpea and tofu, but somehow the tahini and seasonings give it a distinct feta-like flavor.  Paired with more salad with smoky paprika dressing, this was crave-worthy:

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The only false note of the meal was the roasted vegetables, which were too oily for my taste:

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Overall, though, after a week of rushed chia puddings, smoothies and salads (remember, while I eat a lot of raw foods for taste and health, I also really like the time-saving element) it was such a treat to linger over a filling meal with a variety of cooked and raw textures.  I love cooking, but sometimes it is just so very nice to go somewhere, get a spread of gluten-free and vegan foods and enjoy being out and about. 

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beth @ Beth's Journey August 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I've never heard of this restaurant before! Where in DC is it??


2 Gena August 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Such a lovely meal! Sorry it took forever to get the post to work. Good tip on the pizza crust, too — I have yet to try Pete's Apizza!


3 Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Open City is in Woodley Park, on the same block as the Metro. 2331 Calvert St NW (


4 Geanna August 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I love that quinoa was on the menu – I am gluten-free, and I have never seen that at any restaurant. The tofu scramble and hummus plate also looked really tasty.


5 Melinda August 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I haven't been to Open City in a while, and now I'll definitely have to go back to try some of the new menu choices on my upcoming brunch with a girlfriend. Thanks for sharing.


6 Tasty Eats At Home August 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Looks so good! I love finding tasty, healthy menu options that are gluten-free at restaurants. I've only found quinoa once on a menu – and it's from a place that specializes in pre-prepped foods (most are GF), not an actual "restaurant"!


7 Katie (quick cook rice) August 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Aw! So fun! I miss you ladies! I LOVE tofu scramble. I didn't even know Open City had that on their menu. I used to frequent that place all the time back in my MFA days (pre-veganism). Now I have a reason to return!


8 Lisa August 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

This looks fantastic! I am going to have to make my way there too. I didn't realize we had so many places like this in DC.


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