Despite being in one of the District’s most happening neighborhoods, lunch counter and market Green Almond Pantry is a hidden gem.
The storefront at 1314 9th St. NW in Shaw is unassuming, but the mass of people who are likely standing inside will confirm you’re at the right place. Green Almond Pantry resides in a skinny, red brick building with a white door, and fresh-baked breads sit in the window.
With just eight stools and one elongated counter, Green Almond Pantry feels more like you’re sitting at chef and owner Cagla Onal-Urel’s dining room table than in a restaurant. The inside features exposed brick walls, high ceilings and a daily menu written on a chalkboard.
The cafe menu, one of two menus, is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and lists about 10 Mediterranean-inspired menu items that change every day. If you’re in a time crunch, you can grab a few pre-packaged items from the market menu like hummus ($5), lemon fava dip ($5), smoky eggplant dip ($6) and vegetables like roasted rainbow carrots ($6), marinated beets ($6) and Japanese eggplant ($6). Alongside the fridge are baked goods like marinara focaccia ($5), flourless chocolate cake ($9) and seasonal fruit olive oil cake ($8).
You may need to wait some time to grab one of the eight stools at Green Almond Pantry, but it’s worth the wait. Everything that Onal-Urel puts on the cafe menu bursts with flavor and takes seemingly simple dishes like salad to the next level.
Order hummus topped off with lamb ($16) or a seven-minute egg sandwich topped with radish, mustard seed, celery and anchovies, and doused in red wine vinaigrette on a baguette ($8) or keep it light with an arugula, farro and beet salad ($9) or whole-fried artichoke ($9).
The dish that has me constantly thinking about my next trip to Green Almond Pantry is the eggplant confit sandwich ($13). The sandwich is served on warm homemade bread, which is stuffed with eggplant confit and goat feta and drizzled in pesto. A heaping arugula salad and half a seasoned soft-boiled egg are placed next to the sandwich.
For this sandwich, the bread is more than just a vehicle for the rest of the sandwich ingredients. It’s served warm, giving it a satisfactory amount of crunch on its exterior while remaining soft and doughy on its interior. The bread also was sturdy enough to not fall apart while I was eating the sandwich.
I had never had eggplant confit before, but I was blown away by its taste. The preparation process, which consists of cooking the eggplant for more than an hour, made for a tender and tasty main ingredient. The flavor of the eggplant confit was enhanced by the salty pesto sauce and brined goat feta cheese.
The next time you’re tired of the same old GWorld offerings, venture off campus to Green Almond Pantry. Once you get a taste, you may even find yourself dreaming about this little cafe during your daily lunch outing.