(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) Vegan Americana has been making waves, from the new Impossible Whoppers at Burger King to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s vegan chicken buckets. But at one popular Clarendon bar, vegan options are a longtime specialty receiving a new focus.
Galaxy Hut is a small, dimly lit bar at 2711 Wilson Blvd with regulars huddled around tables with built-in arcade games or in the outdoor brick alleyway. The bar has a long history in the local punk rock scene, opening in 1990 in the nascent era of the Clarendon bar scene. It’s strictly for the over-21 crowd, opening at 5 p.m. every day and closing at 2 a.m.
The bar also has a Smithsonian-worthy collection of VHS tapes playing on a regular cycle. Last night (Wednesday), it was Pulp Fiction.
In early August, the Galaxy Hut adjusted its menu with a masthead noting — as it has since 2017 — that every item on the menu can be made vegan. This is not a small menu either. Sandwiches like the Reuben or meatball sub can all be swapped out with vegan imitation ingredients. Others, like the “big mock” — a vegan burger with pickles, onion, Russian dressing and non-dairy cheddar — are implicitly designed as vegan entrees.
Each of these items can be paired with tater tots or eggplant fries, which manager Joe Baker swears by. All of the condiments on the menu are made in-house, according to Baker, so traditionally egg or dairy-based aiolis or ranch are swapped with vegan ingredients.
“We used to carry honey mustard, but people pointed out that’s not vegan so now we use sweet mustard,” Baker said. “We listen to our customers and adjust. Personally, I’ve stopped saying ‘do you want normal cheese’ and switched to ‘do you want dairy-cheese.'”
The vegan menu was not a sudden change but a gradual evolution, according to Baker. Galaxy Hut’s owners are vegan and the bar has been making adjustments over time to cater towards the establishment’s “pretty consistent vegan crowd.”
“We’ve had a significant vegetarian customer base for a long time,” said Lary and Erica Hoffman, the owners, in a joint email to ARLnow. “Galaxy Hut went entirely vegetarian for 9 months in 2012, but decided to add meat options back to the menu due to customer demand.”
The veggie focus event landed Galaxy Hut as the Virginia standout on a “50 States of Vegetarian Food” list compiled on the Food Network website.
A handful of the beers also have non-vegan ingredients, but Baker said all of the bartenders know the taps well enough to let those ordering vegan food items know which of the beers to avoid.
Naked Lunch, an organic vegetarian and vegan eatery attached to the MOM’s Organic Market at 1901 N. Veitch Street, has closed.
According to staff at the grocery store, the location — along car-oriented Lee Highway, a long walk from Courthouse — meant that Naked Lunch never got the kind of traffic it needed and the restaurant closed last Monday, June 24.
The signs on the storefront have been taken down and through the window, the last of the kitchen supplies can be seen being packed into boxes.
Naked Lunch opened on Lee Highway with MOM’s Organic Market in 2015. The restaurant served salads, soup bowls, sandwiches and more, along with organic juices.
The next closest Naked Lunch locations are at 3831 Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria’s Arlandria neighborhood or 8298 Glass Alley in Fairfax’s Mosaic District.
(Updated 12 p.m.) True Food Kitchen — a health-food chain — is planning to open its new Ballston Quarter location next Wednesday (May 8) at 11 a.m.
The restaurant has a seasonal menu that includes a variety of vegan and vegetarian choices, like tofu bowls and cheese-less pizzas, in addition to a selection of burgers, sandwiches and entrees with and without meat.
The Arlington restaurant will have an opening dining area, an outdoor patio, and two private dining rooms for special occasions. A bar at the location includes fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, seasonal cocktails, local beer and wine, according to the restaurant website.
The restaurant is also currently hiring staff, including bartenders, servers, and a butcher.
If you want to try True Food before then, the next closest location is the Mosaic District (2910 District Ave.) in Fairfax County.
(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) Alt’s, a vegetarian restaurant in Lyon Park, might soon be opening.
Though Alt’s signed a lease at 2300 N. Pershing Drive in May 2015, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page, and filed permits to renovate later that year, the restaurant has only recently revealed signs of life.
Signs and a business hours card are up on the restaurant’s storefront. A company representative arrived unannounced at ARLnow’s office yesterday with laminated menus in hand, saying that it was opening this week. (Note to other businesses: please email information to us instead.)
No one from the restaurant answered calls or emails today and it was not open during lunchtime.
The restaurant’s business signs indicate it will be closed on Mondays and open from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 12-2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. on Saturday to Sunday.
The restaurant sells basic vegan and vegetarian “Altburgers” for $4.50 and a vegetarian “altbacon” cheeseburger for $6.20 — “the true pinnacle of meat alternative burgers.” Customers can sub out the bun for a “delicious gluten free rice tortilla” if desired, according to the menu.
On Alt’s website, it claims people can’t tell the difference between a regular burger and its meatless burgers.
“Come to Alt’s, where your perception of a meatless burger will be forever changed,” the site writes.
The donut store opened at 1014 S. Glebe Road to much local fanfare last month. Today Sugar Shack announced the new vegan, gluten-friendly offerings, the result of “a few weeks of testing.”
“We’ll be offering these bad boys around 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day,” said store owner and former state legislator Rob Krupicka. “They are best when they are fresh out of the kitchen… We will be topping these with a variety of gluten-free toppings. We are also making vegan, gluten-friendly apple fritters.”
Why the “gluten-friendly” label?
“These donuts do not contain gluten, but as there is a lot of flour in our store, we can’t say they are gluten-free because the chance of cross-contamination is too high,” Krupicka said. He added that the new donuts will be an exclusive for the Arlington Sugar Shack location, at least for awhile.
“Because our Arlington store is bigger, we have more room to do new things in the kitchen,” he said. “We hope to offer these at all our stores soon, but for now, to get these rare, unicorns of donuts, head over to Sugar Shack Arlington on the Pike.”
Mind Your Body Oasis is scheduled to open at 1750 Crystal Drive on January 12. Owner Amanda Shipe said the area has been hurting for a business of this type.
“I’ve lived here for 15 years, I own a house on South Glebe Road, so I kind of know the lay of the land really well. I’m also a realtor,” said Shipe. “There’s not a yoga studio in the area. It’s very densely populated and is really in need of something different than what’s happening with the restaurants and shops.”
In addition to yoga, the center will offer massages, facials, acupuncture and nutritional coaching.
“There is nothing else like my studio,” said Shipe. “You have your yoga studios that have just yoga and maybe massage, but there is not a center that has hot yoga, regular yoga, pilates and the spa options and acupuncture. There is no other studio that combines everything I’m doing into one in the entire D.C. metro area.”
The Crystal City location made even more sense to Shipe after she led a few outdoor yoga classes in the neighborhood earlier this year. She said the studio will be easy to get to by Metro, and customers can enjoy the renovated courtyard area at the Crystal City Shops. Shipe said customers can take food they buy at her studio into the courtyard to eat.
The food will be provided by local startup Postmodern Foods. Business owner Denise Hicks will make the pre-packaged health food that will be sold out of a refrigerator near the studio’s front desk. Hicks became more involved with health foods when she became ill a number of years ago, and she saw positive changes in her body and emotions due to a change in diet and exercise. She then attended the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York and learned about concepts such as cooking foods to keep them nutritionally intact.
“It took me to another level in terms of understanding different philosophies about food. I think food is really powerful, but it can be more powerful if you handle it respectfully,” said Hicks. “I’m really excited to be able to create food that I believe in and give it to the market. I want to make sure that people have access to really healthy foods that can change the quality of their lives.”
Although about 80 percent of the selections will be raw foods, Hicks plans that around 20 percent of the products will be cooked.
“100 percent raw is not something that you want all day, every day, especially not in winter,” she said.
Hicks makes all the items herself and plans to sell the beverages in glass containers, and the food in compostable, cornstarch based plastic containers. One of the pre-packaged dishes she’s featuring will be a quinoa and egg scramble, with an organic tortilla, corn, salsa fresca and a spicy black bean sauce.
Shipe said she is excited to have Hicks on board for the wholistic center, not just because of the healthy raw food concept, but also because she enjoys helping local people start a small business. Another business she’s helping out by selling its products is House of Steep, which is owned by Shipe’s sister, Lyndsey DePalma.
“We really play off of each other with our strengths and weaknesses. She helped me with the business plan, I helped her with the marketing,” Shipe said. “She’s a little bit ahead of me, so she gives me a future view of what I should be doing. It’s a very, very fun bonding experience for us. It’s been two years since we started this journey. We’ve been along for the ride together.”
If all goes well for both businesses, the sisters would eventually like to open a location combining Mind Your Body and House of Steep. But for now, Shipe is focused on getting out the word about her wholistic center.
“I want Mind Your Body Oasis to be a community and be a place where people can come and meet like minded people and escape the world,” said Shipe. “When you walk in the studio you have a sense of peace and harmony and it’s your little oasis to escape to for a while and forget about anything you’re dealing with that day.”
Mind Your Body Oasis will have a grand opening event from 2:00-9:00 p.m. on January 19. There will be raffles and samples of the juices that will be sold at the center. Customers are also welcome to check out the facility and enjoy a free yoga class.
Cafe Wilson (3033 Wilson Blvd) closed up shop on Friday.
The cafe and deli was noted for its vegan sandwich options and its close proximity to the Clarendon Metro station.
The cafe’s owner told ARLnow.com that she was not given the option of renewing her lease, though she would have liked to. The owner, who declined to give her name, said she hopes to reopen at some point in a different location on Wilson Boulevard.
The good news is that a new restaurant is apparently coming to Shirlington.
The bad news is that we’re pretty thin on details.
If you go to Google, you’ll find out that Native Foods Cafe is a chain of Vegan restaurants in Southern California. Is this restaurant going to be the company’s first east coast location, or is the name merely a coincidence? We don’t know, since the company’s Director of Marketing has declined to respond to an emailed request for information and since the address of the holding company listed on the ABC application comes back to a UPS Store in Henderson, Nevada.
There’s also a “Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe” in the National Museum of the American Indian in D.C., but so far we haven’t been able to establish a connection there, either.
Will Shirlington be getting a Vegan restaurant? Stay tuned.