Meet the Maker: Chaia

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Chaia holds a special place in our hearts as the first restaurant to join the Spokin Verified Restaurant program. We’re excited to share the story behind this allergy mom co-owned and female-founded restaurant dedicated free of peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, and more. To celebrate joining the Spokin family, Chaia is giving away FREE tacos! Join the biggest Taco Tuesday ever by using code SPOKIN at any of their 3 locations in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. This code is good for up to 1 year—perfect for that 2023 D.C. trip! Can also be used for delivery. Limit one use per person.


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Idea to Restaurant

We met in a cookbook club and had no prior restaurant experience but after our farm-to-table taco stand at the D.C. Farmer’s Market consistently sold out, we decided to open our first location. We set out to create a plant-forward, delicious, Mexican-inspired restaurant and in the process, we created an allergy-friendly safe haven.

Let’s Talk Tacos

From the hand-griddled corn tortillas for our tacos to our house-made dips and salsas, everything on our menu is made from scratch, aside from our cookies, which come from a local, dedicated gluten-free bakery. Our chef-designed seasonal taco combinations feature the freshest, most flavorful vegetables. We also serve enchiladas, quesadillas, sides, and drinks on tap, all made with the highest-quality ingredients free of dyes and preservatives.

Dedicated Free From

From the beginning, we wanted Chaia to be safe for Suzanne’s son, Jasper, who’s allergic to peanuts and avoids tree nuts. Our restaurants are 100% dedicated free of peanuts, tree nuts except coconut (we don’t consider coconut to be a tree nut), gluten, soy, and mustard. We’re also naturally dedicated free of fish and shellfish because our menu is 100% vegetarian.

Can Also Accommodate

We can accommodate a number of allergies that we are not dedicated free of including milk, egg, sesame, corn, and legumes. All of our tacos and sides can be made vegan with the exception of our Creamy Kale and Potato Taco, which contains dairy. Vegan cheeses are often cashew-based but we were committed to offering a nut-free option so we opted for a coconut-based version that can be added or substituted in our tacos. We only have one menu item that contains eggs: our Scrambled Egg and Black Bean Taco. 

Spokin Verified

We’re proud to be the first restaurant to join the Spokin Verified Restaurant program! With Suzanne being an allergy mom, we understand the importance of transparency firsthand and we appreciated the question in Spokin’s FAQ asking if there were any allergens we didn’t feel comfortable accommodating. Given our menu, we don’t feel comfortable accommodating allergies to nightshades like tomatoes and peppers. Onions and garlic are also difficult. You can see all of our answers to Spokin’s 28 question Allergen FAQ on our Verified Restaurant page in the Spokin app.

Recipe for Safety

We’ve always had an allergen binder available at our locations but during the process of becoming Spokin Verified, we decided it would be even more helpful to have ingredients available online for customers to review before coming in or ordering delivery. In less than 24 hours, we added ingredient lists for all menu items to our website.

The Ultimate Transparency

While we’ve carefully created the combinations in our tacos and other menu items, we can customize your order to accommodate your allergies. Our restaurants are set up with counter service so you can see your meal being made and we use best practices to ensure our team members are trained in food allergy safety. The team at our Bethesda location even had to pass a test on their training, since food allergy training is required in Maryland.

Free Tacos!

We’re giving away FREE tacos! Share the code SPOKIN when you check out at any location—just show the code on our Verified Restaurant page on the Spokin app, mention it to the team when ordering, or add at checkout if you’re ordering online. This offer is good for 1 year and expires 5/24/2023. One use per person.

Chaia Locations

We have 2 D.C. locations—1 in Georgetown and 1 in Chinatown—and 1 in Bethesda, Maryland. You can also order online from any of our locations for pickup or delivery. Our online ordering platform has a “special request” section where you can note your allergens. We hope to have more locations in the future! We’re looking at Virginia next but don’t have an exact location to share quite yet.

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Sweet Ending

Our cinnamon coconut cookies are so good, they’re the only dessert we offer! The dough comes from a local dedicated gluten-free bakery, Rise Bakery, and we bake them in-house. The cookies are gluten-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free with the exception of coconut, and vegan, but please note their bakery is not dedicated nut-free.

Cheers to Allergy-Friendly

We have a selection of drinks on tap including kombucha, iced tea, wine, and beer. Please note, our beer is not gluten-free. We also have a couple cocktails available: a Ruby Paloma and our Chaia Margarita, because nothing goes together like tacos and margaritas!

Insta Live Q+A

Join our Insta Live Q+A with Co-founders Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon to learn more, including their favorite menu items (spoiler alert: it’s the seasonal summer taco with roasted eggplant with a side of black beans and the Chipotle Sweet Potato Hash Taco!). Tune in @spokininc Tuesday, 5/24 at 12:15 PM CT/1:15 PM ET.

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