Stop by Washington, D.C.’s Farmers Fishers and Bakers for the best (vegetarian) sandwich in the city. It is a meal, much like many of its fellow menu items, that is emblematic of the city’s wholly American integration of its multicultural influences.
If I had to pick a restaurant that truly represents Washington, D.C. and the America of its residents, I would pick Founding Farmers and its sister restaurant, Farmers Fishers Bakers (FFB). Their similar menus’ fusion cuisine – influenced by a wide range of inherently pan ‘American,’ European, and African styles – exemplifies Washington’s cosmopolitan, educated melting pot of transplants from both across and outside of the USA. Washingtonians may see themselves and their adopted city – well-groomed and presentation-conscious, traditional yet adaptive, diverse and transient, working to be. I mean this in the most loving sense of the description.
Whether you, reader, have scoped out Washington’s restaurant scene as a resident or visitor, Founding Farmers is likely to have popped up on your list. With its broad appeal and the packed tables to prove it, these four restaurants have lost some of the buzz the brand garnered a few years ago, but each of the Founding Farmers iterations are worth a visit – or a few.
Farmers Fishers and Bakers is my top choice of the bunch. FFB is located in the ‘horseshoe’ Washington Harbor complex at the Georgetown Waterfront. From its outdoor tables and looking out through its large, wall-to-wall windows, one can people watch groups passing through the complex, skating on its winter rink, playing in its summer fountains, or watching you from the popular outdoor bars of neighboring Sequoia and Tony and Joe’s. But the people watching quickly takes a backseat when their fun, internationally-inspired-yet-truly-American cocktails and food arrives.
From sashimi to mussels, meatloaf to vegetarian cauliflower steak, and southern ham hock with succotash to purple kale salad, its expansive menu offers something for every taste. For such breadth, FFB delivers well.
But for all the fanfare, my favorite menu item is its vegetarian sandwich. It would be easy to miss it on the menu, as its title and description cannot do it justice and relegate it to the token sandwich for vegetarians. I urge you, reader, to consider it, should you venture to FFB. It is the best vegetarian sandwich – dare I say best of any sandwich, meat or not – I’ve ever had. It starts with a sweet, thick raisin-walnut bread that pulls its own weight, paired with a salty brie, roasted red peppers, avocado, sprouts, and tomato. It needs no dressing, sauce, or spread. It pairs well with a light, tangy peanut cabbage slaw as a choice of included side dish. In its simplicity, its sweet-salty-earthy contrast, Washington meets California with the best of both coasts in this meal (pictured above).
This is my love letter to Washington, D.C., the city that has inspired and written my own story for over a decade of my life.