For imaginative vegan sandwiches, salads and shakes, check out Bubbie’s Plant Burgers and Fizz in Dupont Circle.
Located at 1829 M St. NW, the pop-up of Bubbie’s Plant Burgers offers an evolving menu, with rotating concepts every six to 12 months, that is pushing the boundaries of traditional meatless eats. Referred to as a plant food lab, the pop-up is open for online orders only, making it a convenient spot for a weekday dinner or a Saturday night treat.
The restaurant is chef Margaux Riccio and restaurateur Shaun Sharkey’s second plant-based and kosher D.C. restaurant, their first being Pow Pow, an H Street shop putting a vegan spin on Asian cuisine. The pop-up is slated to expand into a full-fledged sit-down diner in Adams Morgan this winter.
The storefront’s hot pink lettering catches the eye of passersby, but the food inside is what truly captivated me. The small store provides a mobile kiosk for online ordering, or customers can opt to order in advance.
High top window seating is offered, but only four seats are available so your best option is to take the food to-go and enjoy elsewhere. Hanging on the walls lies a message about the founders’ reason for opening the restaurant and their commitment to the promotion of the plant-based diet.
Bubbie’s Plant Burger, whose menu is entirely Kosher, is known for its vegan takes of American meat-based dishes like burgers, chicken sandwiches and wings, but the restaurant also serves non-dairy shakes ($9) and floats ($7) made with house-made oat ice cream. Popular sides include a “pile” of parmesan garlic herb fries ($6.99) or onion rings ($9.5), both of which serve as classic sides for the burgers and chicken sandwiches.
The restaurant offers three salad options and a variety of sandwiches including vegan burgers, chicken sandwiches and pulled pork sandwiches. Popular choices include the Nashville Hot Fried Chick’n Sandwich ($10.99), BBQ’d Pulled Jackfruit ($8.99) and Monkey Wrench ($11.99), served either with cashew cheese and the choice of a house-made beet patty or an Impossible burger.
I came for the PB&J Fried Chick’n Sandwich ($10.99), an enticing combination of sweet and savory. The sandwich comes wrapped in paper and served in a small, hot pink box that makes opening it feel like unwrapping a personal gift.
And boy, is it a gift. The plant-based fried chick’n is coated in a grape jelly glaze, topped with pickles, onions, tomatoes, lettuce and peanut butter sauce and served warm on a soft roll.
The sandwich is both literally and figuratively oozing flavor. A word of advice, especially if you can’t resist the allure to unwrap the sandwich and eat it on the walk back to campus: save the napkins.
The onions and lettuce offer an ideal textural contrast, and tomatoes and pickles add a welcome acidity, but what steals the show is the combination of sauces. The grape jelly is sweet and sticky while the peanut butter sauce is creamy and adds an unexpected hint of spice, but doesn’t overwhelm the dish like I expected.
The main differences between the PB&J Fried Chick’n and your traditional PB&J are added kick of spice and the texture. Overall the dish has a more mature and complex flavor profile that shapes it into not just an adult version of PB&J, but a better one.
As a vegetarian, I have tasted my fair share of veggie meat, and this take is close to the top. The texture is in no way off-putting, and the patty as a whole serves as a nice blank canvas for the sauces to work their magic on. It has a subtle crunch on the outside – admittedly not as much as a traditional fried chicken sandwich – more similar to a grilled chicken sandwich in terms of texture.
The dish pairs refreshingly with any one of the offered “fizzes” or sides, but it can also stand alone. Eating the sandwich is simply a culinary experience, especially due to the unexpected yet delectable flavors.
With sauce dripping down your hands and flavor bursting in your mouth, Bubbie’s Plant Burgers will redefine your expectations of vegan food offerings in the District.