Monday, March 24, 2008

Julia's: Now on 14th

A couple of years ago (3 actually, I have some funny photos) a friend and I visited some of the pupuserias in Mount Pleasant to ask around for a vegan pupusa. We tried asking in English and Spanish at several restaurants in the neighborhood. I think we may have been laughed out of one place, but generally we were met with a combination of "why would you want a pupusa without cheese?" and "we don't make pupusas without cheese." So, we went back to my house and made a batch of vegan ones. They were tasty. That's the last time a I had a pupusa. Three years ago.

What could replace it? A nice, hot, quick, tasty, inexpensive snack you can eat with one hand. And vegan. The empanada! If you haven't had one, its essentially a savory sandwich wrapped and baked inside a pastry shell. Most are not vegan, but one local restaurant does offer a vegan option. I'd been keen to Julia's Empanadas on 18th Street for years, as well as the location in Dupont. The empanadas can fill you for lunch or be an alternative to the jumbo slice of pizza or French fries after a late night out. Julia's always offers a vegan empanada and rotates other flavors each day. There are turkey, chicken, Jamaican style, chorizo, Chilean beef and spinach. They cost about $4.00 and are the best prepared food value this side of Rock Creek. There are even dessert-like empanada filled with fruit.

Now Julia's has opened a long awaited restaurant in Columbia Heights. For too long the yellow awning and 'coming soon' signs teased residents in and around the Park Triangle Apartment building, where its located on the first floor. Julia's is between Citibank and Rita's Water Ice. The menu is identical to others in the chain (of three now). But there is seating for 12 at this location. Julia's empanadas are also sold at On the Fly Smartkarts in downtown DC, although at a slight markup. The new restaurant is near the Columbia Heights Metro at 3239 14th Street NW.