I’m a fan of meat. Yes, probably the most prolific statement I’ve made to date. But let’s be serious here, that’s not what this post is really about. It is about the exact opposite, a 100% plant based, Israeli fast-casual restaurant called Shouk (pronounced “shook”). A noun described as a modern eatery and market that offers a new take on comfort food as per their website has been around for a few months now and the buzz hasn’t died down.
There’s something about knowing that the food prepared is good for you; yet most importantly possess flavor. Choose from either a pita, rice and lentil bowl or a salad. Out of the two sampled, the cauliflower selection with its white and roasted brown hue mixed with a chopped tomato and scallion medley delivered. An addition of creamy tahini which serves as a light binder and a mildly spicy jalapeno oil enhances the sandwich. The other we enjoyed was a pita packed with sautéed mushrooms, cauliflower, and spinach all tossed in a vinegary amba tahini, a Middle Eastern mango-based condiment.
Sides include polenta fries and a trio of dips accompanied with fresh baked pita bread. Both the cashew labneh and hummus appear equally silky in texture but not over whipped to loosen their hold. The peaked, mulberry colored beet tahini is worthy of its own post. Be sure to taste Shouk’s house-made harissa. Thick but spreadable, you can’t go wrong.
If citrus forward drinks suite you, try their herbaceous rosemary lemonade, yet be aware as it sometimes can be overly tart. Discouraged? Don’t because the sweetened almond delight is a happy place you’ll want to explore any time of the year, especially during the summer. Owner Ran Nussbacher also offers various retail food products centric to the region like a Palestinian fair trade sun-dried tomato caper spread. While only opened for less than half a year, the popular eatery among plant-based and meat eaters alike doesn’t disappoint. They say not to reinvent the wheel which Shouk doesn’t attempt to do, but it may change your opinion of a palatable option sans meat.
Photos by Jai Williams
655 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20001