Here is what we hit:
Panda Veg, Richmond VA
We were HUNGRY after like 2 hours on the road, so we popped into Richmond, hoping to hit up the Harrison St Coffee Shop, which unfortunately closes at 3 on Saturdays (And opens at 11. Why would you open for 4 hours, Coffee Shop?). Lucky for us, there was an all-you-can-eat vegan buffet at Panda Veg, which was open 11-11. So, naturally we stopped in.
Notice the buffet-- when we arrived it wasn't quite so full. I grabbed a few pieces of "Beef" with broccoli, what they called seared tofu (but was actually more sweet and sour tofu), some spring rolls, some fried rice and some really ghetto looking lo-mein.
The beef/chicken sub they used was something of which I am not a fan. Now the tofu on the otherhand was really crispy yet chewy inside, sweet and just about perfect. The spring rolls were obviously homemade (none of that homogenously shredded cabbage and celery) which made for slightly more difficult eating but totally worthwhile and delicious eating. The fried rice looked great but was a little bland but the ghetto vermicelli rice noodle lo mein was amazingly flavorful. I was already pretty full by this time but then they brought out some doughnuts, general tso's "chicken" and some weird potato thing, so we went for 2nds. Dork thought the doughnuts were awesome, but I found them to be weird, salty and generally unpleasant. I am just not into the fake meat here, but those potato things were really tasty. After we felt like we were gonna puke, we went to the bathroom (something I'd reccommend avoiding at Panda Veg) and hit the road again.
After we arrived in DC, my good friend Sean dropped us off by the 9:30 club, but we hit DC9 first. They have a really reasonable happy hour-- $3 well drinks, $2.50 bud/bud light and $3 beer of the week, which was ABITA! We moseyed over to the 9:30 at around 9:30 and found Wire just climbing onstage and getting ready to play. Sorry Tone! My phone screwed up a little while I was trying to take photos but resulted in a really cool one, at left. I've also included another, more normal wire shot.
After the show, we headed over to the Black Cat owned Food For Thought. (See their punk rock "Don't forget to tip" sign). It was a little confusing--you need to show ID to get into the cafe--but we figured it out, went in and ordered. On recommendation from several sources, I ordered the vegan lasagna and Dork ordered a deep fried chili dog. We decided to try and split a piece of chocolate peanut butter cake. While we were there, waiting on our food, some guy spilled ketchup all over himself, we laughed and eventually he came to join us while he waited on his friends. When they arrived, they slid into our booth and we ended up hanging out with them all night. One of them works for a DC cultural site called Brightest Young Things, which is pretty cool and I'll definitely check out the next time I'm heading up there. As far as the food goes, Dork loved the hot dog (girl likes anything deep fried, I swear), the french fries we were offered for the lack of chili and we both thought the lasagna was really really good. Wish we could say the same for the chocolate peanut butter cake. The cake was dry and the icing was thin and syrupy. It's definitely a good spot for reasonably priced (a slice of cake and a piece of lasagna were exactly 10 bucks) late night eats, drinking and hanging out, but I'd skip on the dessert.
The next day we attempted to go to Java Green for brunch, but found them to be closed on sunday, which is kinda silly, since a place that has a separate brunch menu really ought to be open on the most popular brunch day of the week, shouldn't it?
We ended up visiting Asylum in Adams Morgan, after a whole heck of a lot of driving around lost. I ordered the French Toast (omg I haven't had french toast since I was like, 8!) with a side of homefries and Dork got a breakfast burrito. We divvied the food up (two slices toast to each, and half a burrito). Be careful when ordering off the Vegan Brunch menu-- it says in very small print that the sides you can order ARE NOT vegan, and Dork was really jonesing for Texas Toast. Good thing we asked, huh?
We both tore into the breakfast burrito first, probably because french toast just feels like dessert. The breakfast burritos were a mess of saucy-potato-tofu-goodness with salsa. The potatoes were probably the same as the homefries, which were sort of vile (I think homefries and I think cubed potatoes, seared to crispy with a little onion, lots of salt and lots of grease). The fries were not crispy in any sense, a little spicy and covered in one of the ickiest fake cheeses I have ever eaten. The burrito just drowned out a lot of the gross in the fake cheese I think. The french toast was really the star of the meal for me. It was like I remembered, pillowy bread with a little chewy texture, cinnamon and powdered sugar, drizzled with maple syrup. I had about a quarter of it before I even remembered to add the syrup. Asylum is a sort of gothic bar most of the time, judging from the red velvet and wrought iron decor. The wait staff were pretty distant and hard to get ahold of (our food came about 15 minutes after order, but it took us nearly 20 to get our order taken), but the food is cheap (all entrees were under $10, most of them closer to $6) and we were happy.
Last stop before we left was the much-lauded Sticky Fingers Bakery in Columbia Heights.
I inspected the case and decided that buying 12 cupcakes would be the easiest way to truly sample their wares. Pictured at left, I bought: 2 coconut cream cupcakes, 2 PB&J, 2 Choc Raspberry, 2 Strawberry Shortcake, 1 Fluffernutter, 1 Cookies n Cream, 1 Smores and 1 Almond chocolate. Since we were there and I'd been talking about it for like a month, we also ordered a cinnamon bun so I could get my cinnafix. I grabbed a lasagna for the road and Dork picked up a tofu and cold sesame noodles. Cupcakes run between 2 and 4 bucks a pop. The prepared foods are a little more expensive (sandwiches are in the $7-$9 range, which, for pre-made/pre-packed sandwiches, is a little steep) and they were unfortunately out of the infamous and beloved Teese.
Dork and I sat down in the quaint, cute, pastel pink shop to split our cinnabon. The shop is well lit, has wifi and apparently a huge following. I read on their site that Sticky Fingers plans to expand to NYC. Given their cozy aesthetic and the fact that they seem to be making a killing, I bet they'll do well.
My previous experience with cinnamon rolls was very limited. My first cinnamon roll since vegandom was the pre-packaged kind. I then found that Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe will ship them, but the bakery from which they procure the buns isn't my fav. The latest and greatest was a quick dip into Bethlehem PA's Vegan Treats on the way from Philly to NYC and those are the buns I love. Gooey, rich, messy, moist and nauseating, they are everything my little heart imagined a real cinnabon would be like. I'm sad to report that Sticky Fingers' buns were not up to this golden ideal for me.
We drove back to NC and upon arrival realized we were *famished*, so we heated our pasta up. The lasagna at Sticky Fingers is GOOD, man. A little more herb and spinach lends it a healthier, more complex flavor than the Black Cat version (which was still really good), and their sesame noodles were nutty and delicious, but not too heavy as is the danger with peanut sauces. For dessert, we split a Strawberry Shortcake cupcake, which was very tasty. I ended up running directly to the Cave after that for a show with Teh Vodak and The Can Kickers, so I slipped the cupcakes into the freezer before I left.
I came home after that and decided to sample half a coconut cupcake and half the chocolate almond. *sad news* The cupcakes do not hold up well to freezing. The cake itself almost immediately (over the course of about 4 hours in the freezer!) took on the day-old baking soda strong taste that I've found to be most prominent in wacky cake. Thoroughly bummed, I ate about 1/3 of the cake part, then ended up scraping the icing and licking it off my fork. The coconut and strawberry shortcakes were good, but the almond chocolate icing was divine. Even so, I still prefer the creamy perfection of Vegan treats and I don't think I'll buy a dozen cupcakes again. Just the one will do. But maybe I'll buy more than one piece of lasagna.