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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Try this diverse mix of gluten-friendly restaurants around the District

Kimberly Courtney | Photographer
The curry flavor of Soi 38’s gaeng hang lay was vibrant with just a hint of spice, and the pork belly was more mild and fatty in flavor.

Finding a place to eat can be difficult, but discovering one without any protein in everyday food like cereal and pasta can make the hunt for gluten-free options in D.C. a seemingly impossible challenge.

But as the gluten-free diet increases in popularity for its digestive health benefits, restaurants are finding more ways to best accommodate customers who do not eat gluten. Spanning cultures and neighborhoods, we picked five gluten-free and celiac-friendly restaurants throughout the District for you to try, whether you’re a gluten fan or not.

Rise Bakery
Located in Adams Morgan, the 100 percent gluten-free restaurant – yes, you heard us right – packs a full menu of gluten-free treats, from pastries like red velvet cupcakes ($3.5) to grilled paninis ($8.5 to $13.5). The four-inch pumpkin cheesecake ($5.95) drew me in with a white latte-like swirl on top, and I ultimately went with the appetizing dish in honor of the autumnal season.

The pumpkin and vanilla cheesecake layers were thick and a little creamy, satisfying me after only a few bites. While I wish the cheesecake layers had more fall spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, the ginger molasses cookie base carried the dish with a semi-sweet flavor and ginger aftertaste compared to the bland taste of a regular graham cracker crust with gluten.

For gluten-free breads, cakes and pizzas, Rise Bakery provides an appetizing excuse to skip out on dorm baking in exchange for some freshly made delights. Prices were mostly hanging below $5 for pastries, which included a mixed berry scone ($3.95) and a plain croissant ($4.50).

2409 18th St. NW. Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Find more information here.

Zenebech Restaurant
Across the street from Rise Bakery, Zenebech Restaurant offers staple Ethiopian dishes like tibs – an assortment of lean cubes of meat sauteéd with vegetables and spices – and kitfo – a minced entreé prepared with a chili pepper blend and spiced clarified butter. For cuisine that tends to lean gluten free, Zenebech restaurant is a top choice to check out. Inside, Ethiopian paintings, artifacts and photos of landmarks, like the walled city of Harar, line the restaurant’s interior.

I ordered doro wot ($16) – a spicy chicken stew prepared in a chili pepper sauce and spiced butter along with a hard-boiled egg. The dish had a side of injera – a staple sour, spongy bread in Ethiopian cuisine – with two veggie sides, gomen ($3.5), freshly cooked collard greens, and mesir ($3.5), a stew of spicy red lentils.

Once I saw oil on the classic plastic “thank you” bag for my to-go meal, I knew the food was ethnic and authentic. The gomen’s flavor felt a bit absent, but the spiciness and zesty punch from the doro wot and mesir balanced out the meal.

2420 18th St. NW. Open Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday through Sunday from 1 to 10 p.m. Find more information here.

Pizzeria Paradiso
Over Alumni & Families Weekend, I visited a nostalgic pizza restaurant from my childhood days. I was eager to eat the restaurant’s pizza again but even more excited to discover they are gluten-friendly, with gluten-free pizza crust.

Pizzeria Paradiso, located in Dupont Circle on P Street, offers a relaxed and family-friendly bar and seating area. I ordered a Bosco pizza ($15 for 9 inches) on a gluten-free crust, topped with spinach, mozzarella, tomatoes and onions alongside an Insalata Romana salad ($11).

The salad was served first before the main course, offering a crunchy and flavorful bite to start the meal off on the right foot. The pizza’s flavor was dynamic, both sweet and savory, as the light acidity from the vegetables blended together with the melted mozzarella. The pizza’s crust was hands down the best gluten-free pizza crust I have ever tasted, presenting the same elasticity and lightness as a normal crust, but not as crumbly or dry as lots of other gluten-free items.

2003 P St. NW. Open Monday through Wednesday from 4 to 9 p.m., Thursday from noon to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Find more information here.

The Hamilton
My next stop was The Hamilton, an eclectic restaurant near the White House sporting a stunning American menu with Italian influences and live music. I felt like I crawled into some networking event as people dressed in business professional attire surrounded my corner booth near the bar.

The menu spread included four pasta dishes, 10 burgers, steak cuts, milkshakes, sushi and a long list of entrees like rigatoni bolognese and lobster, which my waiter said could all nearly be modified to be gluten-free.

I ordered a small plate of gluten-free gnocchi gorgonzola ($12) with wild mushroom fricassee, black truffle and gorgonzola cheese. Fragrant with the scent of truffle and gorgonzola, the chef cooked the pasta to “al dente” perfection with a salty kick. Even for foodies who eat gluten, The Hamilton boasts delectable gluten-free options that will satisfy your palate.

After being asked for my LinkedIn twice, I can say the visit was a rousing experience, especially for those looking to network with professionals in D.C. The Hamilton may be a place to splurge a bit more, considering the price for an entreé often goes up to $20 to $30, but for the food and the environment, the restaurant is worth a try.

600 14th St. NW. Open daily from 11 to 2 a.m. Find more information here.

Soi 38
The final spot I visited was Soi 38, a Thai restaurant inspired by the Bangkok street district of the same name and known for its underground street cuisine. After a 10-minute walk north of campus, a sultry environment complete with dim lighting, striking wall paintings and big bamboo lamps that gracefully descended from the ceiling absorbed me as soon as I entered the building.

As another cuisine that centers around gluten-free ingredients, Thai restaurants are not an option to skip out on within the D.C. dining scene, especially not Soi 38. The menu carefully denotes a vast array of gluten-free options in each section of the menu, like hot pot and night market eats. I ordered gaeng hang lay ($19), a slow-roasted pork belly served in Thai curry with fresh ginger on top and a side of sticky rice. The curry flavor was vibrant with just a hint of spice, and the pork belly, more mild and fatty in flavor, melted in my mouth.

For dessert, I ordered the khao neaw mamuang ($9), a dish of sweet sticky rice and coconut milk with warm mango sliced on the side. I would go back to Soi 38 just for the khao neaw mamuang – the treat was light, fresh and not too sweet.

2101 L St. NW. Open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. Find more information here.

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