Inside DC's Best Food Halls and Markets
DC's best restaurants, all in one place.
If there’s one location that can satisfy the hungry, the indecisive, and the most adventurous eaters among us, it is undoubtedly the food hall. We’re not talking about the sad, rather beleaguered food courts of suburban malls across the country. Instead, these modern day food meccas play host to a wide range of pop-ups, fast-casual staples, and proper restaurants from local chefs, making a visit to a food hall one of the best ways to eat your way through a city. And thanks to a resurgence in the concept over the last few years, there are several great food halls in DC to visit. Whether you want to dig into a tray of Texas-style brisket with all the fixings or hop from stall to stall sampling dumplings, hand-pulled noodles, and scallion pancakes, you can find it all. So when you’re ready for a proper food hall crawl, here are the best places to go.
This modern food hall makes ordering easy by using scannable QR codes, so you can order from your seat like at a standard restaurant. With 625 seats and eight food and beverage concepts to choose from, you can get lost in the diversity. Check out oysters from Fog Point, the only oyster bar in Rosslyn; traditional pork soup dumplings from Beng Beng Asian Street Food; or crispy crab deviled eggs from Great Lake Diner.
Mount Vernon Triangle
With three locations in the DMV area, The Block is supporting Asian-American-owned and -inspired eateries all across the region. The DC outpost offers three main vendors: Pogiboy, a Filipino-American spot by chefs Paolo Dungca and Tom Cunanan; Rose Ave Bakery, which offers options like pandan coconut and ube coconut doughnuts; and the Block Bar. In addition to the permanent venues, the space also hosts pop-ups so check regularly for the latest options.
In the heart of Capitol Hill, Eastern Market has been drawing a crowd for years thanks to its expansive indoor and outdoor space. The landmark space has been in operation since 1873 but after a fire in 2007, the space was fully renovated to its current form. The food hall is largely found inside, where you’ll find communal seating and barstools, and other vendors and a pop-up art market can be found outside. Head over to South Hall for fresh produce, meat, and fish, and definitely don’t miss out on the soft shell sandwiches or the blueberry pancakes from Market Lunch. Plus, on the street around the market, there’s often a series of great food trucks serving up sweet and savoury items alike.
Union Market District
Located near Union Market, this collection of Latin businesses offers not only some of the best Mexican fare you can find in the city, but also a range of retail goods including apparel, home decor, and more. Food vendors range from casual taco outposts like Las Gemelas to a top-notch cocktail bar Serenata and tasting menu restaurants Mita and El Cielo. Each concept has its own seating area, and there’s some common seating in the middle of the market, too. And when you’re done eating, you can shop til you drop (or need to refuel again).
With 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space to explore and more than 20 vendors, you can’t go wrong at this sprawling Arlington food hall. A trip to Quarter Market means you’ll get to dig into DC’s perennial favourites like District Doughnut, Hot Lola’s fried chicken sandwiches, and scoops from Ice Cream Jubilee, but the space also features new concepts from beloved local restaurants like Turu’s from the Timber Pizza team and Roll’d, a sushi spot led by Sushi Taro’s world class chef Nobu Yamazaki.
This 12,500-square-foot food hall operated by Neighborhood Restaurant Group brings together some of the District’s most beloved eateries. From Shelter Beer Garden, an operation from the ChurchKey team, to Red Apron Butcher and chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s dumplings and other Chinese BBQ fare at Yoyo & Kota, there’s something for everyone. The Roost is also home to one full-service restaurant, Caruso’s Grocery, a buzzy new Italian restaurant.
Formerly the site of a factory, this modern food hall is part-eatery and part-incubator kitchen. Startups of both the food and non-food variety can be found working in this space, and there’s a commercial kitchen available for use (upon reservation and request, of course). Favourite DC eateries like Bullfrog Bagels and Captain Cookie operate out of the food hall portion of the space. Once you’ve decided what you want, take a seat at one of the tables perched atop a barrel.
Union Market District
Formerly known as Center Market, this food hall has seen a lot of change over the years. The industrial space once held 700 vendors hawking fish, meat, dairy, and other grocery staples and has since been renovated to play home to some of DC’s favourite purveyors. Nearly 50 vendors make up the businesses in and around the market, including Buffalo and Bergen, Red Apron Butcher, and District Fishwife. Visit on a weekend and prepare to wait in line, but Egyptian food at Fava Pot and smoked meats from barbecue hotspot 2Fifty’s are worth the wait.
Since the highly anticipated opening of Western Market in 2021, Western Market has been transforming this college town-esque neighbourhood into a true dining destination. As one of DC’s three original marketplaces (Eastern and Center being the other two), this new food hall has been restored to its former glory with 10 active vendors and more expected to open soon. Options include Italian sandwiches from Capo Deli, fried chicken sandwiches from Roaming Rooster, sushi from Onkei, among others. Plus, the airy space features plenty of seating, largely aligned with individual vendors.
Elsie Yang is a native Texan with high aspirations of eating her way through the northeast (and beyond). When she’s not exploring the culinary scene in DC, you can find her adjusting the height of her standing desk or otherwise searching for a new project. Follow her on Instagram.