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Farmers markets, food trucks and local hospitality stars all have a home at the fledgling Union Market, a shopping haven chock full of deliciously guilty pleasures.
The epicurean playground opened its doors in early September, but only on an abbreviated basis (Friday through Sunday) and with several of the planned retail anchors still in absentia. The grand opening is scheduled for Nov. 10, at which point many of the participating vendors plan to make themselves available from Wednesday through Sunday.
The current crop of purveyors ranges from regional stalwarts (Trickling Springs Creamery, EcoFriendly Foods, A. Litteri) to boutique brands (Pearl Fine Teas, All Things Olive, Oh! Pickles) to service providers (Buffalo & Bergen, Blue Iris Flowers, DC Mobile Sharpening). On any given weekend, the place is crawling with toddler-toting locavores, retirees with a penchant for gourmet ingredients and 20-somethings interested in a taste of something different.
The breakout star for on-site dining is clearly Rappahannock Oyster Bar.
The restaurant’s passion for quality seafood — think freshly shucked oysters, mouthwatering caviar and jumbo lump-packed crab cakes — and locally sourced suds (3 Stars Brewing Co. and D.C. Brau were recently on tap) makes it the hangout of choice for consumers and fellow retailers alike.
We were bowled over by the juicy pork and tender oysters inhabiting the signature Barcat oyster chowder, inhaled a plate of bacon-fat-poached scallops bolstered by curried vegetables and marveled at the boldly spiced tuna tartare.
If Rappahannock controls the sit-down traffic, Border Springs Farm takes the grab-and-go crown. Founder Craig Rogers said many of his recipes have been developed by the various local chefs he supplies, a reciprocal agreement that benefits us all in the form of overstuffed sandwiches, gravy-laden breakfast bowls and savory pot pies.
The shaved lamb sandwich was good, layering tender, rosy meat, peppery arugula and piquant horseradish sauce atop a crusty baguette. The gyro was better, marrying succulent lamb and crunchy root vegetables in dill-spiked yogurt sauce and enveloping it all in pillowy pita.
“Our concept has been to provide a place for lunch or dinner, but that all of the features can be brought home and heated up later. Thus, we sell the gyro meat, tzatziki sauce and pita bread as a kit to make at home,” Rogers said of his plan for total shopping domination.
On the Go
The mobile-dining-verse is well-
represented by a trio of wildly diverse meal flingers: TaKorean, DC Empanadas and Curbside Cupcakes.
The fusion-oriented taco stand draws a decent crowd, appealing, naturally, to fans of Asian cuisine as well as devout vegetarians and vegans.