Image: Beets on toast.
Last Updated: December 2022
Fancy Radish arrived with fanfare in 2018, an import from the team that built Philadelphia’s Vedge into a nationally-acclaimed restaurant. There was soon a buzz about the place. A few years later, we are happy to report Fancy Radish is still excellent. The food is so well-prepared and satisfying that caveats are not really needed, but we should advise the unwitting that it is a vegan restaurant.
Some of the dishes are playful, like the toast where the large beets are sliced and prepared so they resemble lox with crumbled tofu underneath filling in for cream cheese. Sometimes they are more straightforward like the spicy take on Dan Dan noodles in a creamy tahini sauce that warms on a chilly night. The large pretzel bread with a “cheesy” rutabaga sauce for dipping is a nod to the Philadelphia roots. The Brussels sprouts are topped with “bacon-y” mushroom bits. The plates are typically sized to be shared. While we have yet to come across a dud on the menu, some dishes do better than others. For example, the supporting cast of lentils outshone the grilled tofu dish on our most recent visit.
The wine list is a little deeper than you might expect, but its inclusion of offbeat choices – Hungarian Blaufränkisch, Malvasia from California, skin contact bottles, and “chillable reds” – along with more familiar ones does probably match expectations. They start around $60 and most are under $100. They have had a strong bar program since opening and that continues.
The restaurant is located on the first floor of a modern building on H Street. The space is narrow, and a little packed-in, with a sizable bar running along the left side of the room and divided off from the tables. Not only has the food not fallen off, the crowds are still coming.
It might be cliché to say that like an artist working with a restricted palette, the restrictions bring the skill into relief. But the reality is more that Fancy Radish reminds us how much of the palette is ignored day-to-day. Even without the bounty of summer, beets, sprouts, mushrooms, and other ingredients provide depth and nuance. It remains a gem and worth the trip. Even the most committed meat and potatoes eater might be impressed.
Other Guidance: Take-out is available. The vibe is H Street nice, meaning low-key. Obviously, Vegetarians and Vegans can do well, along with GF. The restaurant is located on the ground floor.
Washingtonian: #59 in 2019.
Michelin: Bib Gourmand