Believe it or not, once a year, I'm vegan or vegetarian. We Americans limited vegetarian food to roasted vegetables and salads. Yet, there is just so much variety else where in the world. In fact, I find it easier to be vegetarian and vegan in Asia because the meat isn't usually the star of the show. It is all about. A play on textures and flavors. In any given meal, you will find something chewy, crunchy, and creamy in a single bite. You will also find savory, sweet, and umami flavors in every dish. So whenever, someone at home says, "Hey, let's get some vegetarian food!" I'm sorry to say, my mind and stomach often doth protest. BUT… if the recommendation comes from Chef Kristen Desmond, of Flagstone Pantry, well, that's a different story.
Kristen is the founder of Flagstone Pantry, she knows food and flavor. (I recently raided Cowboy Cookies from her kitchen. They are to die for). (In a few weeks, she will be launching a course on making tasty plant-based non-grain side dishes in Ballston, a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia. If you have a chance you should go!)
The last meal Kristen and I shared was at Dishoom, a well respected Indian bistro in London where any meat eater would be happy. So when she suggested we visit Chaia Taco in Chinatown, DC, I was game.
Chaia is Hebrew for "life" and for founders Bettina Stern and Suzanna Simon, they live for tacos. (Doesn't everyone?) Their fast-casual taqueria features vegetarian and vegan options, which are wholesome and delicious. No joke, as a meat eater I was happy.
The tacos have everything a carnivore wants: something substantial and flavor. They have a seasonal menu, so I won't go through each taco. The play on flavors and textures is delightful. For example, the clever use of lemon scented ricotta lends freshness to the black beans. The use of pickled apples and radishes compliment the earthiness of cauliflower. Trust me, Chaia won't disappoint.
If tacos aren’t your thing, you need got try their bowls. When I saw a customer order bowl of and the heaped on pumpkin seeds and goat cheese, I knew it was going to be good. The combination, regardless of base, always compliment each other.
So if you are in the DC, its worth it to stop by Chaia Tacos for a healthy dose of vegetables that will be satisfying. If you are looking to learn about how to make healthy vegetarian-side dishes, you will want to meet Chef Kristen at Cookology!
As a strategic consultant, I manage chaos for a living. So travel is easy for me. Heh. I travel to understand people and culture more deeply than a newspaper or tv show could ever tell me. I break bread to build bridges across political and social boundaries. Travel inspires me, teaches me and humbles me such that I appreciate my part of the world more deeply.