Where I work in downtown DC, the options for take-out lunch are pretty blah. I try to bring my lunch whenever possible, but sometimes I just don’t have time. Cosi, Potbelly’s, Au Bon Pain, and generic salad bars rule the landscape, and it’s easy to get bored of these places after about one lunch. Even the places I like – Naan and Beyond, Carlos’ burrito cart at 17th & K – have limited menu options, so I only like to go there once a week at most.
A few weeks ago I was walking on Vermont Ave and noticed Spice Express. Maybe it’s been there for a while, I’m not sure, but it was new to me. I walked in and to my delight I saw that they are making active efforts to reduce their carbon footprint:
I like that they serve their takeout in cardboard cartons instead of the plastic or styrofoam ones all the salad bars use. They also have beer for $2, which is pretty cool. But the most important question: how is the food? Well, in the three times that I’ve been, I’ve concluded that they are better with vegetables than with meat. The sauces for the Lamb Curry and Chicken Tikka Masala were a little weak, and the meat was oddly dry despite being submerged. But the vegetable options make for great takeout. I especially liked the chana masala and jeera aloo. The Spice Express vegetarian lunch will definitely go into my rotation, especially since I like supporting businesses that try to be green.
Also, an easy tip for reducing waste at lunchtime: cut the plastic. Instead of putting your take-out box in a plastic bag, just carry it. You’re probably not walking that far, and it’s not that hard to hold a box and a napkin in one hand. And instead of using a plastic fork you’ll toss away after one use, use silverware. At my office, there are dishes and flatware and a dishwasher, but you could also bring a fork and just wash it yourself. Little steps like this don’t seem like much, but a few plastic bags and forks per week can really add up over the course of a year.