Monday, July 4, 2011

Founding Farmers, DC

Founding Farmers is a restaurant in downtown Washington, DC that is owned by "American Family Farmers." Its philosophy is to promote sustainable agriculture and  the ways of the American family farmer. Upon entering this restaurant, I was in awe of the sheer size of the establishment. It is roughly as big as Zaytinya with the main dining area on the first floor and a more intimate dining area on the second floor. Our party of five was seated in a round-shaped booth on the second floor. The dark wood architecture and furniture gave the restaurant a traditional feel, yet the designs etched in the glass and the clouds floating above the dining room made it feel modern as well. 

The waiters approached us quickly and offered to share the story behind Founding Farmers. I liked the sense of pride the waiters exuded as they explained their sustainable practices. They mentioned that everything is made fresh in their restaurant including all of the breads, which is unusual and impressive. I immediately requested the vegan menu, which is a separate menu co-branded with Compassion Over Killing as they worked together to develop it.  There are only five items on the vegan menu besides the vegan breakfast items. Two of them were salads and three of them were entrees. I was in the mood for an entree, for sure. Before I continue, don't get me wrong -- I always appreciate a vegan menu, but I have to say I was disappointed at the selections after the waiters had given their speech. This is mainly because they had said that everything on the menu was made fresh in the restaurant including the veggie burger, which is not vegan. However, when I looked at the three vegan entrees, only one appeared to be made in house. The other two were Gardein-brand items.  The regular menu is extensive and I'm sure the chef could develop his own vegan burger, that is, if he wanted to.  Okay, so that is my criticism.

I decided to order the FF Patty Melt with a salad instead of fries. The FF Patty Melt is a Gardein beefless burger topped with vegan cheddar cheese (I think it is Daiya-brand), carmelized onions, and their homemade agave mustard on their grilled Founding Farmers rye bread. I have to say that for what it was, it was very good.  The Gardein burger was cooked just right; there was just the right amount of cheese and onions; the mustard complemented the burger well; and the bread was toasty and crispy. I think it was about as good as a name-brand burger at a restaurant could have tasted. I liked that they put it on grilled bread instead of a bun too. That was a nice twist. The salad was good as well -- topped with slivered almonds and champagne grapes.

The other items on the menu were griddled Gardein chick'n breast with their homemade vegan BBQ sauce and crunchy slaw on an English muffin; and golden tempura-fried tofu with homemade vegan tartar and cocktail sauces. There was also a 17-vegetable salad that sounded tasty as well.

Overall, I had a good experience at Founding Farmers. I am glad they have a separate vegan menu and are making an effort though I think the chef is capable of so much more. The food is good and the decor is if only they had a homemade vegan burger.


  1. Update: the restaurant responded and said that their vegan menu is a source of discussion internally and that "it is certainly on our radar to take steps 2, 3 and beyond with new items – it’s just about us tackling all our priorities in an order that we have the resources for."

    Let's hope they do!

  2. Hi Angela. I love your blog - thanks for sharing. I ordered the "fish and chips" (fried tofu and chips) at Founding Farmers and it was very good. very heavy. but good.

  3. Ashley - thanks for the info! That is definitely the dish that is next on my list to try! I'm glad to hear that it is worth trying.