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Where to Eat, Drink & Shop at DC's Union Market
This revitalized food hall dishes up made-in-DC sausages, Chesapeake oysters and kitchenware boutiques.
It’s a Sunday afternoon at NoMa’s Union Market, and a couple is slurping bivalves at Rappahannock Oyster Bar while, nearby, a mini-skirt wearing tween struggles to eat a taco while walking. Just across the way, there’s a line forming for either the beer, the bratwursts or both at Red Apron Butchery.
Welcome to Union Market, DC’s hippest feasting ground, a revived mid-century produce- and meat-selling bazaar that holds food stalls, informal restaurants and kitchenware boutiques that’d impress even Top Chef competitors.
Since it was restored and reopened in 2012, the industrial-cool space has grown to include 40 vendors, from pop-up dumpling stands to permanent fixtures like Buffalo & Bergen, a throwback, Brooklyn diner-inspired spot where you can munch bagels and slurp egg creams at a long bar. Other businesses offer takeout to eat at indoor or outdoor tables; try TaKorean for addictive bulgogi beef tacos and Puddin' for decadent shrimp ‘n' grits. Just know that, on weekends, the place is justifiably jammed. Make sure to check out all of our can't miss food experiences at Union Market.
This is also a place to stock your kitchen pantry. Salt & Sundry offers artisanal cocktail mixers, crafty tableware and cookbooks (check out our interview with owner Amanda McClements for some specific shopping recs); Bazaar Spices specializes in small-batch seasonings inspired by its owners’ world travels; while popular restaurant Teaism offers more than three dozen teas, as well as plenty of accessories and crafts from local artists.
Also in the market’s orbit; Dock5, a top-floor event space that hosts periodic events like American-made clothing festivals and Union Kitchen, a local gourmet entrepreneurship center that has launched businesses like Ice Cream Jubilee, named one of Food & Wine's "best ice cream spots in the U.S.," and the Capital Candy Jar, known for its decadent marshmallows and, in the spring, chocolate-cherry blossom bark.
Outside of the market is a heart-filled mural that LA-based graffiti artist Mr. Brainwash created for International Women’s Day in 2015. The mural has quickly become one of the neighborhood’s most Instagramable images (even First Lady Michelle Obama had her photo taken there).
Adjacent to the market, other similarly taste-obsessed businesses thrive. Slick, dinner-only Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Masseria plates fixed-price menus dreamed up by star chef Nick Stefanelli – think veal ragu lasagne or a caviar-accented mozzarella appetizer. The cityfied digs include a buzzy outdoor patio area with firepits and colorful tiled floors and a glowing indoor dining room with a wall of wine. Also nearby, the distillery Cotton & Reed (one of many local distilleries you should know about) is producing rum in a creatively outfitted former ice warehouse.
Once you’re through making your Union Market discoveries, explore the rest of the NoMa neighborhood.