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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Sandwiches, Sweet drinks

Mon–Fri 9:30am–6:30pm
Sat 10:00am–6:30pm

Features Outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx


Capitol Hill
325 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Washington, DC
(202) 543-2266
Wellness Café
There’s little done well at this hippie haven; vegetarians deserve better

The Wellness Café will very likely deal a shock to your senses, but perhaps not in the way you’d expect. This Pennsylvania avenue hovel-in-the-wall is one of the most visually stimulating places around, and it’s packed to the brim with potions and products claiming to cure what ails and ward off all that menaces to ail.

When its outdoor chalkboard boasts fresh and healthy lunches within, we can’t help but suspect that their claims are nothing short of boldfaced lies. Take the panini, which aren’t really panini at all so much as regular toast with stuff on top. There’s very little that’s particularly healthy (or good) about generic, sliced wheat bread topped with oily (even slimy), under-roasted vegetables, soy cheese, and rock-hard tomatoes. The sandwich seems to have been put through some kind of tabletop toaster-press, or otherwise branded, to emerge with a few parallel brown lines that are supposed to substitute for toasting. The resulting mess is soggy and gross.

Wraps, which come in equally generic flour tortillas, are no better. The homemade soups are decent but ordinary: the selection is usually limited to some mix of cubed vegetables in a pretty good broth. Wellness’ smoothies, meanwhile, are too sweet: you’re better off opting from one of the juices in its admittedly excellent collection. Strangely, Wellness Café also serves Coke. Wellness, indeed.

And the service is mind-bogglingly slow. If it offers any consolation, Wellness is a rather interesting place to have an excuse to poke around while waiting, if only to shed light on the disturbing nature of our “culture of wellness”; beyond the basic bran and flax, you’ll find such remedies as desiccated liver, amino fuel, muscle milk, and Arctic cod liver. We located (and love) the raw honey, but we’re still searching for the raw truth.

Wellness may have garnered a certificate from the “Forrest Friendly 500,” but it won’t get any praise from us. The café’s hippie ethos has gone without its deodorant for too long (in other words, this place stinks).

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