Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vapiano - Casual Dining with a Twist

Vapiano’s has discovered a way to eliminate the uncomfortable debate of how to split the check at the end of the night. Each customer receives a “chip” card that is scanned after every purchase. At the end of the evening, patrons check out at the front and cover their tab.

The result is a casual atmosphere that is remarkably fluid, as customers can sit at one of the many dining tables or linger at the bar without having to worry about closing and re-opening their tabs. It makes for a great meeting spot for co-workers and friends because people can come and go as they please without having to hastle with "settling up" before leaving.

And while the transition from one area to another is effortless, Vapiano’s has done an excellent job of delineating specialized sections for its patrons. Customers can order in the buffet style line where the cook makes your dish while you wait. Or, if you don't want to separate from the bar while your meal is prepared, they will give you a buzzer card that vibrates when it is ready. Alongside the kitchen are dining tables, ideal for larger groups. If you want a more social experience, you can congregate around the brick fireplace and dine in the lounge area at the opposite section of the restaurant. After dinner, transition seamlessly to the adjacent bar and enjoy a nightcap.

The food is fresh and distinctively Italian as most of their entrees are either pizza or pasta. Vapiano’s lacks intimacy, and might not be the best place to have a conventional first date, but it facilitates group congregation. Don't lose your card as you will be charged $100, and don't forget to leave a tip! Located at M and 18th street, Vapiano’s has revolutionized the casual dining and drinking experience.


  1. I discovered (meaning a friend recommended) Vapiano last September and I quickly added it to the rotation. I think the chip card is a great idea. I've only been to the 18th and M location, but I think a branch recently opened in Chinatown and that there is one in Arlington (maybe Ballston). Looks like the Germans know a thing or two about making Italian food.

  2. It's a bit too trendy for me. I miss the old pizzeria that was kicked out of that location.

  3. why would you tip on an entirely self-service experience? if you go during lunch, you face endless lines, crowded seating areas, and un-bussed tables. not to mention the ungodly din and uncomfortable chairs.

    the vapiano setup might make splitting the check a snap, but i don't have much positive to say about the overall experience.

  4. Thanks for the comments! I have not been there during lunch so I cannot speak for their mid-day dining. However, that is good information to know. As for the tipping, it's easy to sit at the bar all evening and not tip the bartender (since you are using a card). Generally, I just tip the 15-20% on the drinks that are on my bill at the end of the evening......or tip in cash when at the bar. You are correct in asserting that there is no need to tip for food service.