Local Color: Union Market

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Today was the grand opening of the historic Union Market in Washington, DC. The market is located in a somewhat questionable neighborhood, but is a fine example of the diversity of real (read: tourist free) DC. For example, I walked over from my parking spot on 4th Street, just two blocks from the market, but a world apart. Immediately, I found myself in a vast industrial warehouse district with all the pungent ripeness of an unsanitized urban setting. It reminded me of Naples, Italy and not in a good way. I think that's what they call revitalizing the neighborhood. 

Union Market has an extensive history, opening in 1931 and closing down for a number of years. The interior is a white industrial dream complete with a gorgeous array of lighting fixtures. Clean subway tiles and long wooden tables give it a gourmet kitchen feel, with ample space to browse and converse easily with vendors. While it was the official Grand Opening, I learned from the Lettuce Man, it was in reality a soft opening; meaning local food artisans were given three additional weeks to have their shops set up and running. I was also there early, which meant the vendors I saw included the artisan bread shop, juice bar, produce stand, lamb counter, coffee bar (where all the hipsters were mingling), honey shop, Italian store, and a couple other counters. The entire market is slated to have around 80 food vendors, which means it will be a happening spot in just a few short weeks. (Probably something along the lines of Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.) For breakfast I snagged a smoked salmon salad with capers, dill, and cucumbers, a sourdough roll, and fancy soda. I also caved and bought a bottle of creamed honey.  

Union Market will be open six days a week from 8am-8pm and is definitely worth checking out.


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