Washington DC

This Brand-New DC Food Hall Is Making Foggy Bottom a Dining Destination

Western Market is now home to local favorites and new fast-casual concepts.

Roaming Rooster
Roaming Rooster
Roaming Rooster

Foggy Bottom is finally getting the dining destination that it deserves-and in a major way. Rather than one, two, or even three new restaurants, the neighborhood is newly playing host to a whole market of dining options, including DC favorites and newcomers.

A far cry from the sad mid-mall food courts where smoothies and teriyaki chicken once reigned supreme, Western Market is a 21st-century food hall hosting a range of creative concepts that began rolling out openings this month. The historic 12,300 square-foot space was originally built in 1802 and has been reimagined to include dozens of food vendors, alongside a 4,000-square-foot outdoor dining space that will also host events and entertainment programming.

The space was intended to serve one of the primary marketplaces for residents of the DC area, supplementing other markets located further away in Alexandria and Georgetown. More than two centuries and dozens of iterations later, the space has been totally revamped but still plays a similar purpose, says Tim Hill of MRP Realty, one of the space’s developers.

Western Market DC
Western Market DC
Western Market DC

After several months in the works, the first four merchants of Western Market are now open and bringing the marketplace to life-Mason’s Famous Lobster Roll, Capo Italian Deli, RAWish, and Roaming Rooster are now accepting customers, with more restaurants and tenants slated to open on a rolling basis throughout the rest of the year.

“The goal of Western Market is to bring diverse cultures and cuisines to the heart of Foggy Bottom,” Hill says. “Each new restaurant offers a unique opportunity for guests to experience ingredients, drinks, and dishes from all over the world.” But the team isn’t just stopping with food. “We’re already exploring sports betting at ExPat, new retail spaces, and pop-ups,” Michael Morris of CANA Development said.

So whether you’re a GW student, World Bank employee, or local wanting to explore this newly minted dining destination, there are plenty of options at Western Market that make it worth the trip to Foggy Bottom. Check out our list of the market’s current offerings and some hotly anticipated openings that will join the space before the year’s end.

Capo Italian Deli
Capo Italian Deli
Capo Italian Deli

Capo Italian Deli

If you’re looking for an Italian fix, Capo Italian Deli is the place to go. The spot drew a devoted following throughout quarantine with its “Fauci Pouchy” to-go cocktails, and it remains a staple for towering hot and cold subs, classic Italian dishes, and signature cocktails.
How to order: Walk in or get delivery via website

Mason's Famous Lobster Rolls
Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls
Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls

Mason’s Famous Lobster Roll

Get a taste of the sea at Mason’s Famous Lobster Roll. This local chain originated in Annapolis and after expanding across the country with 15 locations, Mason’s now has three locations bringing several lobster roll varieties and other seafood specialties to the District.
How to order: Via website

RAWish
RAWish
RAWish

RAWish

Brought to you by the owners of Gangster Vegan DMV, RAWish serves up healthy bowls, toasts, salads, and beverages that are, of course, all plant-based.
How to order: Walk in or pre-order via website

Roaming Rooster
Roaming Rooster
Roaming Rooster

Roaming Rooster

This chicken sandwich joint is taking the District by storm, and now you can get this DC favorite in Foggy Bottom. From crispy fried chicken sandwiches made classic, buffalo, and Nashville hot style to buttery biscuit sandwiches for breakfast, there’s something for everyone (at any time of day) at Roaming Rooster.
How to order: Walk in or pre-order via website

Alitiko

Coming soon
Owner and operator Dimitri Piskapas is bringing his childhood in Greece to Western Market, offering street food favorites like shawarma, zucchini fritters, and house cut fries at this brand-new restaurant.

Arepa Zone
Arepa Zone
Arepa Zone

Arepa Zone

Coming soon
With five locations around the DMV, the Western Market location of Arepa Zone is just the latest in this Venezuelan spot’s DC takeover. At the restaurant, you’ll find plantain sandwiches, tequenos, and, of course, arepas with various filling options.

Bandoola Bowl
Bandoola Bowl
Bandoola Bowl

Bandoola Bowl

Coming soon
Flavors from Burma, Vietnam, and Thailand make up the exciting menu at Bandoola Bowl, which has its original location in Georgetown. Custom bowls and salads are the star here, where you can play around with bases like spicy rice noodles, proteins like curried chickpeas and roasted pork, and tons of flavorful sauces and toppings.

Nim Ali Shukos & Antojitos

Coming soon
Nim Ali was previously just a pop-up concept from Rosario Guzman and Karla Alonzo, offering beef franks topped with traditional Guatemalan street food favorites. Given its enormous success, it’s now opening up its first brick-and-mortar location in Western Market.

Onkei

Coming soon
No food hall would be complete without some sushi, and Onkei is here to deliver. The sushi bar is a spin-off of Georgetown’s Sushi Keiko.

Tigerella

Coming soon
Mount Pleasant’s enormously popular Elle is spinning off a new all-day cafe in Western Market, featuring pastries, baked goods, and coffee in the morning, and lunchtime favorites like sandwiches and desserts as the day wears on. And yes, there will be a full bar.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Elsie Yang is a contributor for Thrillist. Follow her on Instagram.

Washington DC

15 Totally Free Things to Do in DC

A full itinerary, completely free of charge.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery

Washington DC is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, and for those of us who call the District home, it’s easy to see why. With dozens of world-class museums, murals that transform streets into galleries, and sites brimming with history, DC offers a full agenda-completely free of charge. Whether you want to try a new farmer’s market, explore a new hike, or polish off your roller skating or canoeing skills, here are some of our favourite free things to do in the District.

Flickr/gawnesco
Flickr/gawnesco
Flickr/gawnesco

Hike, bike, or stroll along the C&O Canal

The historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is one of the most accessible nature escapes from the District. Thanks to a multi-year restoration project, the first mile of the canal is an idyllic walk that’s easy to access in Georgetown. Stick to a short stroll there, or grab a bike or lace up your hiking shoes for a longer adventure along the 184.5-mile canal.

Jump on the pickleball craze

Pickleball is working its way up the ladder past kickball and softball as one of America’s favourite games. Jump on the craze and practice your paddling at one of the District’s pickleball courts in Takoma Park, the Palisades, and more. Plus, Washington DC Pickleball invites guests to drop in to beginner sessions to try their hand at the sport before signing up for a $30 annual membership.

Flickr/mcfeelion
Flickr/mcfeelion
Flickr/mcfeelion

Bike the Mount Vernon Trail

DC is incredibly bike-friendly, and luckily that applies to the land immediately outside of the city as well. Start in the city and bike along the Mount Vernon Trail, a scenic route that hugs the water and cuts through the woods. It’s about a 10-mile trip from DC to Mount Vernon, but you can cut the trip slightly short and end at the Old Town Alexandria waterfront-just make sure to factor in time for ice cream before pedalling home.

Explore a sculpture park

While not located in the District proper, Glenstone, an expansive sculpture park in Maryland, is worth the 45-minute drive. Tickets to the park are free (just be sure to reserve several weeks in advance), and the 300-acre space offers stunning art, architecture, and open land. In addition to its indoor gallery spaces, you can spend hours walking on paths that wind through sculptures, meadows, and forests.

Flickr/Geoff Livingston
Flickr/Geoff Livingston
Flickr/Geoff Livingston

See the monuments at night

When the sun goes down-and the summer humidity somewhat dissipates-head to the National Mall for the rare chance to see the monuments without busloads of tourists. Moonlight will give you a different perspective as you traverse the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial or gaze up at the Washington Monument set aglow with lights.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery

Museum hop the day away

One of DC’s greatest strengths is its world-class Smithsonian museums that are open to the public free of charge. There is no shortage of options, from the intimate Renwick Gallery, to the sprawling National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonians offer something for everyone. Pro tip: Some of the museums are open late in the evenings, making for an ideal date night.

muralsdc
muralsdc
muralsdc

Explore the city’s murals

Washington is home to hundreds of murals that are becoming as much a part of the city’s landscape as the monuments on the National Mall. Take a self-guided tour of these colourful creations no matter which neighbourhood you happen to be in. MuralsDC, the organization behind 150 of the District’s public artworks, is a great resource for mapping out a route to explore the city’s street art.

Hotel Washington
Hotel Washington
Hotel Washington

Take in a birds-eye view of the city

Washington looks pretty stunning from up high, and there are few spots within the city that make for phenomenal vantage points. Rooftop bars and restaurants offer epic views for the price of a drink or two, but there’s no more iconic sight than seeing the city from the top of the Washington Monument, which is completely free. Book a ticket ahead of time and ride an elevator all the way to the top of the monument and step out on the 500-foot observation deck.

Flickr/Nicolas Raymond
Flickr/Nicolas Raymond
Flickr/Nicolas Raymond

Wander through a garden

DC is home to some of the most beautiful urban gardens in the country, and many of them are open to the public for free. There is nothing like an afternoon spent strolling through, or picnicking, at the expansive 446-acre United States Arboretum or wandering through the Botanic Garden on the edge of the Mall. For something a bit smaller, explore the grounds at Tudor Place or Dumbarton Oaks (free in the winter), both of which are in Georgetown.

Flickr/ehpien
Flickr/ehpien
Flickr/ehpien

Hike the Billy Goat Trail

You can catch one of the District’s most popular hiking trails, the Billy Goat Trail, from the C&O canal. The full trail is 4.7 miles and ranges from easy to strenuous, so hike a section in and back or make the full loop for the variety.

Pay your respect at Arlington National Cemetery

Just across the Potomac from DC, Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 veterans. The cemetery is an expanse of 639 hallowed acres and the ANC Explorer allows visitors to locate graves, notable sites, and take self-guided walking tours to spots including the tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as the final resting place of President John F. Kennedy.

Lace up your roller skates

When was the last time you went roller skating? Chances are it’s been too long. So get back into this nostalgic activity at the Anacostia Park roller skating pavilion. You can rent skates for free, just show proof of a government-issued ID, and the skating pavilion is open from 9 to 5 every day.

Help clean up the Anacostia River

We all know there’s a lot of work to be done to keep our waterways clean. Do your part, and have some fun, by participating in the city’s Green Boat initiative. On select weekends, DCers can join a two-hour guided paddle along the Anacostia River to collect trash and monitor the river’s progress.

Eastern Market
Eastern Market
Eastern Market

Stroll your local farmer’s market

DC’s close proximity to the farms of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and beyond mean that the city’s farmers’ markets always have something to offer. Check out the year-round markets like Eastern Market in Capitol Hill and the Sunday market in Dupont Circle or head to seasonal markets like the pop-up in front of the White House that draws vendors like Cucina al Volo and Call Your Mother Deli.

The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress

Play tourist all around the city

It’s easy to forget that all those traditionally touristy activities can be fun for locals too. If you haven’t been on a tour of the White House, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, or the Capitol, this is your sign. All are free with advanced reservations. Plus, tucked in the northern quadrant of NW, the Washington National Cathedral is free and open to all. Tour the cathedral’s impressive architecture, 215 stained glass windows, 112 Gothically-inspired gargoyles, and enormous pipe organ. See if you can spot the sculpture of Darth Vader.

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Madeline Weinfield is a Thrillist contributor.

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