A new 100% vegan cafe recently opened on K Street NW, which is huge news in DC! Shouk features Middle Eastern-inspired dishes including pitas, bowls, salads, and snacks in its quaint location.
The first time I went, I went with a large group of vegans. Despite the amount of people, they really kept the line moving! The cashier was taking orders and the owner himself, Ran Nussbacher, came out with an iPad to speed things up. I ordered the Cauliflower Pita, which was oh-so-good! This fresh whole wheat pita was filled with sauteed cauliflower and roasted tomato, scallions, tahini, and jalapeno oil. It was delicious!
I got their Rosemary Lemonade, which wasn't fantastic and finished it off with an expensive, small chocolate chip cardamom cookie that had flavors that weren't quite balanced, but a great texture.
On my second visit, I ordered the Black Bean Mujadra-style, which is over rice and lentils instead of in a pita. I absolutely loved this one! Black beans, sweet potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, and arugula with a spicy harissa sauce! So good! And the sweet potato fries had an awesome flavor, but they could use a little more crispiness.
The decor of this restaurant is incredibly fun. They spared no expense on the design side. It's very small with a few large communal tables and funky seating.
For my third meal, I had UberEats deliver the Chickpea dish. I asked for it Mujadra-style, but it showed up in a pita. Oh well. I had heard this one had a very strong taste -- and a strong taste is right! They preserve the lemon so it is very lemony and there's a distinctive taste from the seaweed -- plus, olives, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumber and tahina make for a uniquely satisfying dish. And I tried the polenta fries, which were equally, if not more, fantastic than the other fries. The thick red sauce it came with was okay, but these fries stand on their own -- crunchy and thick, with great texture and flavor.
Lastly, I tried the Ratatouille Mujadra-style. Unbelievably good. Roasted tomatoes, radishes, chickpeas, and tahina. Words can't describe the flavors you'll experience.
I'm kind of hooked on this place. Other options include a mushroom-based, fennel and cucumber pitas. Salads include a beet salad with sweet potato, which I've heard is very good, and a salad loaded with fresh veggies. They also serve craft beer and tap wine.
I'm not sure why there is this new trend of not using the term "vegan," but vegans tend to find that annoying. Shouk says they are all "plant-based," which has no practical meaning to individuals who adhere to a diet free of animal products. I hope that Shouk will identify as vegan in the future to show a support of our strong vegan community in DC.
All in all, I found the food to be incredibly good, the service is great, and the prices high. A pita should be like $8 in DC. Theirs are $9.75 each. Even the salads are $9.75 each, which is really high. I hope they lower their prices in the future to be more in line with DC lunch prices for this type of food. Either way, I'll continue to be a regular here as they have some of the best vegan bowls in the city.
655 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20001