Close Up on Beefsteak from José Andrés

First Look at the Vegetable-Centric Fast Casual Beefsteak:

Beefsteak, the new fast casual concept from José Andrés, opened two weeks ago on the GWU campus at the corner of 22nd & I St NW. Already with a 2nd location planned for Dupont Circle this summer, it’s time to take a close look at Beefsteak and what it’s all about.

Beefsteak is a veggie-centric — read: not vegetarian — fast casual concept focused on providing, as they say, really good food that happens to be really good for you. This is as opposed to making “healthy” the goal, and making you feel like you’re being forced to “eat your vegetables.”

As you might expect, Andres takes a different approach to things like this:

“Vegetables are fun and sexy – so full of possibilities and flavors,” he said. “Why not make them the star of the plate – the name Beefsteak is our playful way to celebrate this idea. It’s not about being vegan or vegetarian, but about enjoying vegetables and making food that is wholesome, amazing, affordable and accessible to the many.”

Beefsteak isn’t “dumbing down” their vegetables. They have taken recipes and concepts from other ThinkFoodGroup restaurants, and adapted them to this format, offering concepts and flavors on par with some of what you’ll find at those other settings.

Whether you frequent Chipotle, Cava or Shophouse, or any of D.C.’s fast casual favorites, you’ll be familiar with the format. Walk up to the counter and you can create a bowl with your choice of ingredients. All of the vegetables are cooked for you upon ordering, with a 90-second blanch.

You’ll build your bowl with your choice of vegetables, grains and sauce, before topping it off with a bevvy of salad toppings, add-ons and dressings. You can add on some protein in the form of chicken, salmon, or beautifully poached eggs. Even when you do add on a protein though, it’s a contributor to the bowl, with the vegetables still being the star attraction.

There are also four house combinations:

  • Eden: Quinoa, snowpeas, edamame, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cilantro, roasted garlic yogurt sauce, romaine and topped with cucumber salad, scallions, sprouts, toasted sesame seeds and lemon honey dressing. (Recommended add: salt-cured salmon)
  • Frida Kale: Rice, kale, black bean sauce, spicy tomato sauce and topped with cherry tomato, scallions, corn nuts, pumpkin seeds, cranberries and lemon honey dressing. (Recommended add: avocado)
  • Kimchi-wa: Rice, corn, carrot, cabbage, edamame, bok choy, roasted garlic yogurt sauce, and topped with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, roasted chickpeas, kimchi and soy ginger dressing. (Recommended add: poached egg)
  • Naked: Yellow squash, potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, broccoli, roasted garlic yogurt sauce and topped with romaine, almonds, cherry tomato, radish and extra virgin olive oil. (Recommended add: avocado)

On a recent visit, I opted for the Kimchi-wa, being lured in both by the kimchi and the poached egg. You receive a massive, bright and colorful bowl loaded up to the brim which certainly accomplishes it’s mission – it’s a hearty, satisfying meal without just feeling like “you had to eat your vegetables.” You know you’re eating healthy, but it feels like you’re eating well, too.

All bowls start at $7.99, with add-on such as $1.59 for a poached egg, $1.99 for avocado, or up to to $3.99 for salmon.

The possibilities are quite literally endless – their POS system has 7 million combinations with all of the ingredients they have in-house right now. A quick overview includes:

  • Veggies: Farm-fresh vegetables that serve as the anchor, including a selection of year-round staples and seasonal offerings – vegetables are blanched to order and range from asparagus and cauliflower to snap peas, chard and sweet potatoes. Recommended to choose 4 or 5 if you’re building your own.
  • Grains: A choice of grains such as quinoa, rice or bulgur.
  • Sauces: Bold, house-made sauces such as cilantro, spicy tomato or garlic yogurt. You can also combine sauces for different flavors. A mash-up of all 3 gives you a tikka masala style profile, according to Beefsteak’s chef.
  • Toppings: Unlimited fresh and crunchy accents such as radishes, romaine lettuce, crispy chickpeas, mozzarella, kimchi and cherry tomatoes.
  • Protein: Add-ons of salt cured salmon, roast chicken or a poached egg.
  • Dressing: A light dressing on top, such as lemon honey, sherry vinegar or simply extra virgin olive oil.

Beverages include a rotating selection of freshly-made juices, Spindrift soda, wine from Denver’s urban winery, The Infinite Monkey Theorem, and craft beer including Flying Dog and Dogfish Head.

Inside, you’ll find an inviting setting dominated by the extensive murals and graphics from award-winning Spanish artists Juan and Alejandro Mingarro, who have created a playful “vegetable universe” with cartoon vegetable characters come to life. Along with standard tables, there’s also a back section of stadium seating meant for solo diners. It’s also perfect for the GWU campus — for everyone else, it may provide you with a flashback to college, for better or worse. A recent media event felt like a session of D.C. Food Writing 101: Intro Coursework For Vegetables.

In the future, expect several types of freshly pre-made salads available to order, as well as online ordering and payment. With the online system, you’ll also be able to instantly track your calories for each ingredient.

Beefsteak is open daily from 10:30am-10pm. Visit BeefsteakVeggies.com for more information.

Author: Jake Emen

I’m Jake, and I’m your host on this journey. I'm the man doing the eating and the talking around here. I’m a writer based outside of Washington, D.C., and I'm also talking whiskey, local events, travel, and other assorted misadventures. Follow me on the Tweet Machine - @ManTalkFood, or send an email to jake [at] mantalkfood.com.

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