Vegete: Pro-Choice

Capitol Hill sandwich shop gives veg eaters their fill.

IT'S NOT EASY getting a decent sandwich in this town. Sure, sub-shop chains abound, but if your taste demands more than Briazz broiled turkey and Swiss, your options are pretty limited. And if you don't eat meator dairy? If it's not in a brown bag you brought from home, you're probably not going to be having a sandwich for lunch. Unless, of course, you're convenient to Vegete, Capitol Hill's vegetarian and vegan hero.

Just about every time-honored American sandwich specialty has a meat- and dairy-free alternative here. B.L.T.? Check: Vegete makes theirs with grilled Smart Bacon ($6.25), which really isn't bacon at all. The Reuben? Yes, they have one of those, too, and it's delicious. Prepared with thinly sliced "field roast," a vegetable-, grain-, and legume-based meat alternative locally made by the Original Field Roast company, Vegete layers it with soy "mozzarella," tangy organic kraut, and a dab of yellow mustard on toasted rye ($5.95). And the French dip? Vegete's is called the Washington Dipper, and no, that's not a political slap at Mr. Chirac. The Original Field Roast company also makes a wild-mushroom-and-garlic version of their meat alternative, and it serves as the sole ingredient on the Dipper, but I added soy cheddar to mine. The Dipper is served on a soft and buttery hoagie bun (from Essential Bakery, where the bread for all Vegete's sandwiches comes from) with hot vegan jus on the side ($6.25). I could literally go on and onVegete offers 17 different specialty sandwiches, seven "burgers," and an ingredient list is provided, so free spirits can create something of their own. Organic dairy cheeses are available if you prefer that over the soy alternatives, but Vegete serves soy mayo exclusively and organic products are used wherever possible.

Sure, you can get all this good stuff at any decent grocery store and make your own meat-free Philly roast, but the same thing goes at a regular deli or sandwich shop, and anyway, what makes Vegete all the more appealing are the excellent homemade soups ($3 for a cup, $4 for a bowl; selections change daily), vegan cookies (go for the Snickerdoodle), and their giant, generous salads. The Rainbow ($5.50) is huge orgy of organic field greens, oranges, sweet red peppers, corn, red onion, avocado, and slivered almonds in balsamic vinaigrette. Also delicious and more than enough for three people to partake of pre-sandwich is the spinach salad ($4.95), which features these funny little enoki mushrooms and a delicious sesame seed-mushroom dressing. Vegete also serves breakfast and espresso drinks, which are made with soy milk unless you request dairy. Vegete, in short, is the future of food. Resistance is futile.

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