Oct. 20, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Meat and Greet at Union Market

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
Union Market is located at 1309 Fifth St. NE. It's open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

We’re all for diversity but much prefer the meat-related offerings to the tofu-based stuff. Soy-marinated bulgogi works best with pungent kimchi dressed with a healthy dose of Sriracha. Chicken marinated in sweet chili and ginger is better complemented by the lime crema, the citrus adding a splash of zing to the caramelized bird. If you are going to go the tofu route, fresh cilantro is best. The herbaceousness offsets the underlying sweetness of the hoisin-marinated bean curd while shredded Napa cabbage brings the roughage. 

DC Empanadas serves up fried dough filled to the brim with all sorts of culinary whimsy, from a proper Sunday dinner (stewed beef, onions, potatoes and carrots) to a trek through Thailand (broccoli, Thai basil and red coconut curry). 

Our favorites are the aptly named “Badass,” a provocative blend of buffalo-style chicken embraced by molten blue cheese (after-burn lasts a good long while) and the “Divine Swine,” a handheld helping of shredded pork soaked in tangy-sweet barbecue sauce, all wrapped in buttery crust. 

Cupcake enthusiasts can feast on a rainbow of single-serve decadence at Curbside. The mobile bakery rotates flavors and frostings at will, but it tends to feature favorites for as long as folks demand them. One companion swooned after biting into the flagship red velvet offering.

“Even the cake part is super rich,” our guest exclaimed over the cream-cheese-frosted, extra spongy indulgence. We preferred the fruity blasts provided by a raspberry lemonade creation, the booze-spiked tequila sunrise cake and apple-chunked apple cinnamon offering. 

Righteous Cheese owner Carolyn Stromberg is still getting her bearings — she currently offers nine cheeses on the retail side and three preset flights at her cheese bar.

The three flights will stay, but she’s planning on showcasing about 70 artisanal cheeses when the grand opening rolls around. Still, she has already noticed a devoted following. 

“It’s incredible and inspiring that so many people have come back again and again — both to the retail side and the bar. With new pairings every couple weeks at the bar ... we’ve had many, many repeat guests wanting to try something different,” the entrepreneur said. “We’re also able to keep a cheese history, so our customers don’t have to even try to remember what they had a month ago.” 

Rappahannock co-owner Travis Croxton senses the same momentum building. 

“D.C.’s a huge city, but many folks still don’t know what Union Market is. Once they come out, they realize how easy it is to get to — and free parking — and you see them coming back and back,” he said of the burgeoning community.

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