, , , , , , , ,


How many times have you tried to figure out how to fit in dinner before a movie? I often find that the only way to get the timing right is to inhale a quick sandwich or a burrito, but sometimes I crave something a bit more refined. Fortunately, if you’re hoping to catch a flick at Regal Gallery Place, there’s a perfect option just steps away.

Vapiano is a new kind of international chain that offers a variety of tasty vegetarian antipasti, pastas, pizzas, salads, and paninis, all made fresh before your eyes. They even make all the pastas there every morning, including extruded varieties like penne and fusilli. You can have any pasta dish with whole wheat pasta for an added nutritional boost.


The chefs are friendly and willing to customize your meal to your liking, since they’re cooking it up then and there. At each table, you’ll find the usual salt, pepper, and olive oil, but also something unexpected: potted basil, rosemary and thyme that you can use to garnish your plate to perfection.


We shared a dish of penne with Pesto e Spinaci – a light cream sauce with spinach, tomatoes, and a hint of pesto. I can never have too many veggies, so I asked for some broccoli, zucchini and extra spinach. Our chef started by sauteeing onion and garlic in olive oil, then added the sauce, vegetables and pasta. A garnish of parmesan and it was ready, all in about eight minutes. All pastas come with bread and butter, so one dish is enough for a light, satisfying meal for two.


Go early on a weeknight and you won’t have to wait, but when it’s busy it can be tough to secure a table and it might be 15-20 minutes before you can put in your order. Vapiano operates in an interesting way; you are issued a swipe-card upon entry, and you use that to purchase all your food and drinks. This eliminates the hassle of dividing a bill with your dining companions; you just pay for what’s on your card when you leave.

It’s not sit-down service, but it’s sit-down-quality food and you’ll be out in less than an hour. Try it the next time your plans take you to Gallery Place!

623-625 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20001