It was Veg Week in DC and what better way to celebrate than with vegan pizza?! Mellow Mushroom was offering a benefit for Compassion Over Killing, one of my favorite charities so Zach and I invited my good friend, Hosan, out for dinner. Mellow Mushroom was founded in 1974 by a few college students and has since grown to a chain of over 100 pizzerias that span 15 states. The one in DC is about a year old and it was our first time dining there.
When I arrived, my friend was sitting at the bar. We were told we could have a seat anywhere in the dining room so we chose one of the big wooden booths. In addition to the large bar and medium-sized dining room, there was a rooftop, but since it was drizzling, we stayed inside.
Mellow Mushroom has a typical pizza parlor menu that includes pizza, of course, salads, calzones, and hoagies. But, what makes them unique are the toppings they offer including regular tofu, jerk tofu, BBQ tofu, and tempeh. I started with a glass of wine and continued to peruse the menu.
When our waiter returned, I had some questions about the vegan options. Come to find out it was his third day and he didn't know much so the manager eventually came over to assist. Finally, we placed our order with our waiter. I ordered a Mega Veggie pizza and asked if I could make some substitutions for the same price. He said I could, so I did. Zach and Hosan ordered calzones and made substitutions as well.
As we waited, we admired the unusual artwork including the sign you see below. They say each Mellow Mushroom has its own flair. I'd be interested in seeing some of the others.
When our food finally arrived, it appeared they had mixed up my order by putting regular tofu on one half of my pizza rather than tempeh. They took it back, took the tofu off and replaced it with tempeh, then put it back in the oven. When it returned, it was very overcooked and I was pretty disappointed. The pizza was loaded with toppings though! I ordered the Mega Veggie with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, green peppers, mushrooms, red onions, kalamata olives instead of black olives, roma tomatoes, broccoli, jalapeno peppers instead of banana peppers, artichoke hearts, and Daiya cheese. I ordered tempeh for one half and jerk tofu for the other half. The toppings were very good. I especially liked the tempeh. The jerk tofu, however, was way too strong for this pizza. I should have known. I bet the jerk tofu would be amazing on a hoagie, but not so much on pizza. They accidentally left a few pieces of the regular tofu on the pizza as well and I liked that better. In the future, I'd choose the regular tofu or tempeh over any of the flavored tofu.
We also got some free pints of beer for ordering vegan food as a Veg Week special! We all liked that.
When we got our bill, we found that we were charged for all of the substitutions even though we were told we could make substitutions without additional charges. I mean, we did make a lot of changes so we expected some confusion, but the whole bill was pretty much incorrect. Finally, the manager helped the waiter fix it and apologized for everything.
So, in sum, the food and service were disappointing, but I think I would give them one more shot. I think the pizza probably would have been good if it hadn't been overcooked as other people I spoke to enjoyed theirs. The prices weren't bad either - $13.50 for the 10-inch seemed like a fair price. And I love that they offer so many varieties of vegan toppings - probably more so than any other pizzeria in DC.
2436 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009