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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 12/ 2/2010

At Fruit Bat, a bar menu that's vegan-friendly

By Lavanya Ramanathan

Vegetarian tacos and the Banana Boat, a soymilk cocktail at Fruit Bat. (Photo by Lavanya Ramanathan)

I've been eating my way across the region in search of surprising veggie and vegan fare, but I never expected to stumble upon a veg-friendly gem while writing the nightlife column for the Dec. 3 issue of Weekend.

At Fruit Bat, the three-month-old bar on H Street NE, I spied one little word on the cocktail menu that begged for more investigating: soymilk.

Fruit Bat has attracted attention for letting you build your own drinks (to which you can even add a sprinkling of caffeine powder), but its fall menu also touts the Banana Boat, a creamy, banana-split-esque drink made with banana rum, crème de cacao (which is non-dairy, despite the name) and soymilk.

Owner Erik Holzherr says the bar keeps the soy on hand not just for the Banana Boat, but to whip up any creamy drink that vegans might have never dreamed they'd taste again, including non-dairy White Russians. (Though, seriously, the percentage of people who miss White Russians is probably pretty small).

Fruit Bat's menu is also loaded with vegetarian and vegan-friendly Colombian/Venezuelan snacks and tacos. The bar's general manager, Roxanne Fereydouni, is a vegetarian herself (and a one-time vegan), and she wanted to offer something customers don't see much.

So, the veggie tacos arrive on two thick house-made tortillas topped with black beans, chunks of ripe avocado, cheese, rice and a totally addictive pineapple salsa; the flat corncake, the arepa, is stuffed with cheese and served with tangy cabbage. The melt-in-your-mouth sweet-potato fries, plantains and hearts of palm salad with cilantro dressing are vegan, and Fereydouni says the tacos can be vegan, too: just ask your server to hold the cheese.

For now, the kitchen is open sporadically -- the last time I was there, chef Jose Sanchez was also tending the bar -- so you'll fare better trying the bites menu on a Thursday through Saturday before 9. The Banana Boat? It should stay on the menu at least a couple of months.

By Lavanya Ramanathan  | December 2, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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