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A poke bowl at Abunai Poke.
Abunai Poke [Official photo]

The 13 Hottest New Grab-and-Go D.C. Restaurants to Try Right Now

Find everything from sushi burritos and vegan sandwiches to shrimp tortas at these quick-serve eateries

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A poke bowl at Abunai Poke.
| Abunai Poke [Official photo]

Finding a quality grab-and-go meal in D.C. has never been easier. The city offers an impressive roster of fast-casual eateries, each dishing out their particular twists on grain bowls, salads, burritos, and other meals favored by hurried or budget-conscious diners.

Fast-casual menus tap into cuisines around the globe, such as the Indian flavors at Rasa or Spice 6 or the Mexican fare from Taco Bamba or Butterfly. Many of these restaurants also serve beer, wine, and cocktails making them as suitable for an on-the-go lunch as they are for a low-key dinner with friends. Meanwhile, wildly successful local companies such as Cava, Sweetgreen, &pizza, and Taylor Gourmet continue their respective paths to world domination while still keeping hometown fans well fed.

Here are 13 fast-casual restaurants redefining the D.C. dining scene.

Don’t see a personal favorite on the list? Sound off in the comments or shoot us an email (dc@eater.com).

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Chicken + Whiskey

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Rotisserie chicken is the main attraction at this South American-style eatery, which also serves arepa sandwiches. The back of the restaurant houses a well-stocked whiskey bar for any post-meal drinks. It’s also a late-night dining spot along the busy 14th Street corridor; the kitchen is open until 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Customers ordering food at Chicken + Whiskey.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Tiki Taco

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A mix of island-influenced dishes come together at area newcomer Tiki Taco in Dupont Circle. Featured fillings include jerk chicken, fish, and crispy sesame tofu; and each offering can also be turned into a taco salad. Customers can also dig into spicy or soy poke variations, or cool off with rotating flavors of Hawaiian shave ice.

A trio of tacos at Tiki Taco.
Warren Rojas/Eater DC

Shouk (Multiple locations)

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Vegan restaurant Shouk has expanded to a second location near Union Market. The menu features the same Israeli-inspired pitas and bowls as the original, featuring ingredients such as cauliflower, mushrooms, fennel, and chickpeas. Shouk also serves a popular veggie burger, and faux egg-filled  breakfast pita.

A vegetable-filled pita at Shouk.
Shouk/Facebook

Falafel Inc

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This soon-to-be chain is one of the best fast-casual bets around, both in price and in its mission. A basic pita with falafel and vegetables at Falafel Inc. runs $3 with hummus an additional $1. The za’atar fries make a solid accompaniment, as do all the complimentary sauces on hand for dipping and topping. Each meal purchased goes towards helping feed refugees in need.

Assorted offerings at Falafel Inc.
Eugina N./Yelp

Abunai Poke

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Food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurant Abunai keeps its Hawaiian-style poke simple. Bowls begin with one or two proteins, such as tuna or salmon, before getting tossed with ingredients such as onion, garlic, cucumbers or Hawaiian sea asparagus. Complete the dish with a drizzle of sauce and a sprinkle of toppings.

Assorted offerings at Abunai Poke.
Ashley D./Yelp

Taco Bamba (Multiple locations)

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Following years of growth in the surrounding suburbs, restaurateur Victor Albisu’s imaginative takes on Mexican taquerias can finally be enjoyed in D.C. proper. Order classic options like chicken tinga or al pastor, or get adventurous with proteins like kung pao shrimp or duck carnitas. The menu also includes nachos, tortas, beer, and specialty cocktails.

The boricua taco at Taco Bamba.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Farmbird

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Farmbird serves flavorful chicken enhanced by a range of spices and sauces. Spice fans can up the ante with roasted fresno chile sauce, while barbecue ranch and avocado basil cater to those who prefer milder accompaniments. Trays of meat are rounded out by a base of brown basmati rice (other grains are available) and sides like macaroni and cheese or roasted bok choy.

An adobo chicken sandwich at Farmbird.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Buredo (Multiple locations)

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Can’t decide between burritos and sushi? There’s no need to at Buredo. The local chain serves oversized rolls featuring everything from tempura shrimp and sashimi tuna to pulled pork and beef short ribs. Next up: opening in NoMa (111 K Street NE).

A salmon-filled roll at Buredo.
Buredo/Facebook

Poke Papa

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Homegrown Poke Papa is not afraid to be creative with poke, providing diners with a wide range of ingredients to choose from. Build-your-own bowls come with two to four scoops of featured proteins — think: chicken larb and tofu — and the freedom to mix and match sauces, toppings, and garnishes. Poke Papa also has several preset combinations to make ordering easier.

A look at Poké Papa’s bowls.
Assorted offerings at Poke Papa.
Poke Papa/Facebook

Spice 6 (Multiple locations)

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Local chain Spice 6 recently expanded to Penn Quarter. Its modern Indian menu offerings include naan pizzas, wrap, salads, rice bowl, dosas, and kebabs. Assorted chaat and desserts are also available.

A dosa with assorted sauces at Spice 6.
Spice 6/Facebook

Thinkfoodlab

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Restaurateur José Andrés’ fast-casual dreams come to life at experimental Thinkfoodlab. The venue hosts rotating pop-ups from Andrés and his culinary team, acting as a proving ground for new ideas. It debuted with Spanish sandwich shop Pepe and currently features Butterfly, a taqueria and torta shop he’s installing at D.C. United’s new stadium.

The shrimp torta at Butterfly.
Rey Lopez/Under a Bushel Photography

Prospective chain Badaro opened its first Lebanese restaurant in Arlington and plans to grow from there. Featured offerings include traditional shawarma, grilled kebabs, kefta, and falafel. Fill out an order with a side of spicy hummus or baba ganoush with pita or a fresh-squeezed juice.

Assorted offerings at Badaro.
Badaro/Facebook

Navy Yard newcomer Rasa gives Indian food a fast-casual makeover. Build-your-own bowls featuring a range of proteins and toppings – including everything from grilled lamb and marinated chicken to sweet potatoes and jackfruit – are complemented by add-ons including naan, mini samosas, and specialty cocktails.

Assorted offerings at Rasa.
Rasa/Facebook

Chicken + Whiskey

Customers ordering food at Chicken + Whiskey.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Rotisserie chicken is the main attraction at this South American-style eatery, which also serves arepa sandwiches. The back of the restaurant houses a well-stocked whiskey bar for any post-meal drinks. It’s also a late-night dining spot along the busy 14th Street corridor; the kitchen is open until 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Customers ordering food at Chicken + Whiskey.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Tiki Taco

A trio of tacos at Tiki Taco.
Warren Rojas/Eater DC

A mix of island-influenced dishes come together at area newcomer Tiki Taco in Dupont Circle. Featured fillings include jerk chicken, fish, and crispy sesame tofu; and each offering can also be turned into a taco salad. Customers can also dig into spicy or soy poke variations, or cool off with rotating flavors of Hawaiian shave ice.

A trio of tacos at Tiki Taco.
Warren Rojas/Eater DC

Shouk (Multiple locations)

A vegetable-filled pita at Shouk.
Shouk/Facebook

Vegan restaurant Shouk has expanded to a second location near Union Market. The menu features the same Israeli-inspired pitas and bowls as the original, featuring ingredients such as cauliflower, mushrooms, fennel, and chickpeas. Shouk also serves a popular veggie burger, and faux egg-filled  breakfast pita.

A vegetable-filled pita at Shouk.
Shouk/Facebook

Falafel Inc

Assorted offerings at Falafel Inc.
Eugina N./Yelp

This soon-to-be chain is one of the best fast-casual bets around, both in price and in its mission. A basic pita with falafel and vegetables at Falafel Inc. runs $3 with hummus an additional $1. The za’atar fries make a solid accompaniment, as do all the complimentary sauces on hand for dipping and topping. Each meal purchased goes towards helping feed refugees in need.

Assorted offerings at Falafel Inc.
Eugina N./Yelp

Abunai Poke

Assorted offerings at Abunai Poke.
Ashley D./Yelp

Food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurant Abunai keeps its Hawaiian-style poke simple. Bowls begin with one or two proteins, such as tuna or salmon, before getting tossed with ingredients such as onion, garlic, cucumbers or Hawaiian sea asparagus. Complete the dish with a drizzle of sauce and a sprinkle of toppings.

Assorted offerings at Abunai Poke.
Ashley D./Yelp

Taco Bamba (Multiple locations)

The boricua taco at Taco Bamba.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Following years of growth in the surrounding suburbs, restaurateur Victor Albisu’s imaginative takes on Mexican taquerias can finally be enjoyed in D.C. proper. Order classic options like chicken tinga or al pastor, or get adventurous with proteins like kung pao shrimp or duck carnitas. The menu also includes nachos, tortas, beer, and specialty cocktails.

The boricua taco at Taco Bamba.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Farmbird

An adobo chicken sandwich at Farmbird.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Farmbird serves flavorful chicken enhanced by a range of spices and sauces. Spice fans can up the ante with roasted fresno chile sauce, while barbecue ranch and avocado basil cater to those who prefer milder accompaniments. Trays of meat are rounded out by a base of brown basmati rice (other grains are available) and sides like macaroni and cheese or roasted bok choy.

An adobo chicken sandwich at Farmbird.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Buredo (Multiple locations)

A salmon-filled roll at Buredo.
Buredo/Facebook

Can’t decide between burritos and sushi? There’s no need to at Buredo. The local chain serves oversized rolls featuring everything from tempura shrimp and sashimi tuna to pulled pork and beef short ribs. Next up: opening in NoMa (111 K Street NE).

A salmon-filled roll at Buredo.
Buredo/Facebook

Poke Papa

A look at Poké Papa’s bowls.
Assorted offerings at Poke Papa.
Poke Papa/Facebook

Homegrown Poke Papa is not afraid to be creative with poke, providing diners with a wide range of ingredients to choose from. Build-your-own bowls come with two to four scoops of featured proteins — think: chicken larb and tofu — and the freedom to mix and match sauces, toppings, and garnishes. Poke Papa also has several preset combinations to make ordering easier.

A look at Poké Papa’s bowls.
Assorted offerings at Poke Papa.
Poke Papa/Facebook

Spice 6 (Multiple locations)

A dosa with assorted sauces at Spice 6.
Spice 6/Facebook

Local chain Spice 6 recently expanded to Penn Quarter. Its modern Indian menu offerings include naan pizzas, wrap, salads, rice bowl, dosas, and kebabs. Assorted chaat and desserts are also available.

A dosa with assorted sauces at Spice 6.
Spice 6/Facebook

Thinkfoodlab

The shrimp torta at Butterfly.
Rey Lopez/Under a Bushel Photography

Restaurateur José Andrés’ fast-casual dreams come to life at experimental Thinkfoodlab. The venue hosts rotating pop-ups from Andrés and his culinary team, acting as a proving ground for new ideas. It debuted with Spanish sandwich shop Pepe and currently features Butterfly, a taqueria and torta shop he’s installing at D.C. United’s new stadium.

The shrimp torta at Butterfly.
Rey Lopez/Under a Bushel Photography

Badaro

Assorted offerings at Badaro.
Badaro/Facebook

Prospective chain Badaro opened its first Lebanese restaurant in Arlington and plans to grow from there. Featured offerings include traditional shawarma, grilled kebabs, kefta, and falafel. Fill out an order with a side of spicy hummus or baba ganoush with pita or a fresh-squeezed juice.

Assorted offerings at Badaro.
Badaro/Facebook

Rasa

Assorted offerings at Rasa.
Rasa/Facebook

Navy Yard newcomer Rasa gives Indian food a fast-casual makeover. Build-your-own bowls featuring a range of proteins and toppings – including everything from grilled lamb and marinated chicken to sweet potatoes and jackfruit – are complemented by add-ons including naan, mini samosas, and specialty cocktails.

Assorted offerings at Rasa.
Rasa/Facebook

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