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Eastern Market- best food?

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I am going to Eastern Market next weekend. I have never been and I am looking forward to it. Seems like a lot to see/eat. What are the best places to eat for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dessert or snack? Anything from casual sit-down to grabbing a quality bite to walk around with. I just do not want to miss out on the BEST food there, so please let me know what you all recommend. Thanks so much.

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  1. really love Cafe 8 for Mediterranean/Turkish, so good. Ugly Mug has good bar food, their sliders are IMHO the best of all the sports bars around. haven't been to the new matchbox there yet but it's supposed to be a fine place to eat.

    1. Well bluebucks (blueberry buckwheat pancakes) are a staple at Market Lunch. The cheese are the cheese place in the market is fantastic with some bread from next door and some salami. There is this one blend they make I forget what it is, I want to say a blend of parm and something else that is great. They have some great interesting blends. They have some decent black and whites at the bakery. The spiced nuts are ok, but nothing like you get down south. The crepes are good too.

      12 Replies
      1. re: ktmoomau

        kt - you're referring to what Bower's call a Gouda Parmesan mix. it's really something else altogether, but it does go well on either crackers or cooked in pasta. kinda semi-hard so it can be grated or sliced - versatile. I often ask for the weirdest cheese they have (shy of Limburger). and hide it from the SO. Then I sleep in the guest room "there was this great movie I haven't seen since I was a kid and I didn't want to wake you" heh.

        I wandered Pain Quotidien today, it looks nice and much cozier than B+C ever did. but I give props to the SBE operators and prefer them.

        and I fully endorse all the other recs on this thread so far. (ok haven't been to Ugly Mug yet) and we have seen actual Peregrine Falcons around the 'hood.

        1. re: hill food

          Is Pain Quotidien open? If so about how big is the space? Call me crazy but I want to meet some friends in the city Monday for Brunch/Lunch/Coffee where we can sit and observe all the madness and talk smack about tourists (yea yea we are bad people I know, but it's fun). We thought about Cafe Atlantico since we can make a res, but... I don't mind waiting for a table to oogle.

          1. re: ktmoomau

            PQ has a smaller seating space than B+C had (bigger kitchen) but there is a long communal table down the middle.

            1. re: hill food

              LPQ's open now with about 60-70 seats if I recall correctly. Love their omelets, go for the Ham and Gruyere or the Salmon and Scallion. Expect a wait, though - it is HOPPING.

              1. re: oneautumnday

                I like the mushroom & gruyere omelette myself. I went to the bethesda location!

              2. re: hill food

                Had great MLK day brunch at Cafe Atlantico, they gave us a table upstairs by the window where we spent the afternoon boozing up eating and staring at the madness out the window- like the glitter hats and TV cameramen reporting from beside the large rows of porta-potties. It was great I think we were there for like 3-4 hours drinking and eating. I am happy about PQ as Bread and Chocolate was certainly nothing special. We decided to forego Hill madness, so hill food how is the bread? ;)

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  I'll get back to you...jury hasn't been convened yet (was going to make clam chowder tonight and check it out, but the seafood counter was closed - on to plan B)

            2. re: hill food

              B+C?

              1. re: Hal Laurent

                previous tenant - Bread and Chocolate. wasn't bad, but no love lost.

                1. re: hill food

                  Thanks for the translation. Crytic initals aren't always clear to everyone.

                2. re: Hal Laurent

                  Bread and Chocolate...use to be in the space where Pain Quotidien is in Eastern Market.

                3. re: hill food

                  The cheese at Bowers you're referring to is Parano. It's good but your can get it at most supermarkets.

              2. oh oh also, i think a reasonably short stroll from eastern market is this wonderful diner called Jimmy T's

                1. You should certainly check out Market Lunch for lunch or breakfast. Their bluebucks are legendary and I also really like their crab cake platter.

                  There's a new bar/restaurant across from Barrack's Row called Lola's, which is pumping out some very impressive food. And Matchbox just opened for pizza and miniburgers.

                  Old Siam is pretty good for Thai.

                  1. Do step outside of Eastern Market and walk up the street towards Pennsylvania Avenue and help yourself to the best coffee in all of DC. Peregrine may well be one of the top ten/twenty coffee shops in the country. Try one of their gorgeous cappuccinos.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Treva

                      Thanks for these great suggestions, Everyone. I am especially looking forward to trying the bluebucks. My brother will be in town and i want to take him to Eastern Market, in part because I have never been there myself, and I live here. Other restaurants for dinners include our favorite Matchbox (the first one), Founding Farmers (was there recently and liked it-fun menu), Tenpenh (haven't been there in years but enjoyed my last meal there) and either Granville Moore or Bistro D'OC (never been to either.) Any thoughts about these places or others I may have missed??? Thanks!

                    2. I would also add Tortilla Cafe, which a few doors down from the market entrance on 7th street. Fantastic pupusas, tamales, and decent tacos from the Canales family (who have some of the more popular stalls in the market proper).

                      A pupusas and a side container of their "green sauce" is as good a snack as you'll find on the street. And you'll probably wonder why you didn't order a few more.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ad.mich

                        and cheap, warm, delicious and filling.

                      2. If I had one more weekend in Eastern Market (a horrible thought), I would eat:

                        1. Housemade chicken salad sandwich at Lola's
                        2. Sweet Potato pancakes and bacon at Pete's Diner (http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/res...
                        )3. Manchego and carmelized onion soup at Locanda, followed by the ravioli of the day or the pork shank (http://www.locandadc.com/
                        )4. A burger at Sonoma, with scamorza cheese and pancetta (http://www.sonomadc.com/
                        )5. Blue bucks at Market Lunch (or a pulled pork sandwich if breakfast is over)
                        6. Sliders at the Ugly Mug
                        7. Crepes at the Market (http://www.crepesatthemarket.com/

                        )

                        If I were you, I would avoid Cafe 8 and Matchbox, as both have been mediocre every time I've tried either. If you like coffee, try Peregrine Espresso.

                        Have fun!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: samDC

                          Oh, and one very important piece of advice re the sliders at the Ugly Mug:
                          Order them MEDIUM RARE, or else you might end up with hockey pucks.

                          1. re: samDC

                            Thanks, Sam DC. I LOVE matchbox and we are going there (Chinatown location) tomorrow night. Sorry you did not enjoy your meals there. Your other suggestions sound great. I really appreciate it.

                            1. re: chicken kabob

                              Matchbox opened a second restaurant on 8th Street near Eastern Market. There's no longer a reason to go to Ugly Mug anymore.

                            2. re: samDC

                              By the way, you raise a good point, Sam DC. What time do u think they stop serving the bluebucks everyone is raving about?? I want to try them...they sound awesome.

                              1. re: chicken kabob

                                They stop serving breakfast because like all great diners, they can. I have found the best diners always do things like that because they can. The grill switches to lunch when they want to and that is that. If you want breakfast go early and be prepared to wait.

                                1. re: chicken kabob

                                  On Saturdays I'm pretty sure it's noon on the dot -- they will actually come to the line and say no more breakfast after this person. They do have a set time and abide by it faithfully, in my experience. And you can wait more than an hour in that line, so be prepared (with a cappuccino from Peregrine).

                              2. After living on the for a couple of years, my recs would be: Market Lunch for the experience. Ugly Mug is pretty good, but the sliders at Matchbox are unbeatable. Peregrine has the best coffee in the city, hands down (In fact, it's the only place I've found that can make a cappuccino that isn't a bowl of espresso flavored milk). It also has great pastries from independent area bakeries. Tunnicliff's Tavern is underrated (at least with respect to burgers). I've also had a pretty good brunch at Cafe Belga. Tortilla Cafe is also a good bet, though there is better Central American food in other parts of the city.

                                I've still never been to Montmarte for some reason, but it's very close to the Market and gets good reviews.

                                A few up Penn. Ave. towards 3rd St. are great. For dinner (they do serve lunch), I still think Sonoma is the best restaurant on the Hill. Despite all the unfashionable hype, Good Stuff Eatery makes my favorite specialty burgers in the area.

                                Avoid: Le Pain Quotidien (fine, but overpriced), Jimmy T's (portion sizes are absurdly small and service is awful), Cafe 8 (everything that we had was bland, though not overpriced). Locanda is good (and closer to the Market), but I'd still prefer Sonoma if given the choice. I can't really think of anything else on 8th St. as a destination. Most of it is fine for a night out, but nothing you can't get anywhere else. Same for everything else up Penn. Ave.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: hill foodie

                                  Have you tried Lola's yet on 8th St? Worth checking out for sure.

                                  1. re: Elyssa

                                    I have lived in Capitol Hill for the past two years and have been pretty good about trying the different restaurants in the area. From my experience, I would suggest these places:

                                    Market Lunch/Breakfast: Located inside the hall at Eastern Market. Get there early for Breakfast on Saturday. Everything is good, but expect a crowd. Great options for a filling breakfast. I also really enjoy seeing what the vendors have to offer, even if I am not buying anything

                                    Locanda: One of my favorite additions to the neighborhood over the past two years. Good food, and it is generally not crowded. Nice atmosphere. They have a homemade ravioli that changes daily that is very good. I love the lamb steak there as well. Very nice.

                                    Monmartre: Located just North of the Old B and C. This is far and away my favorite place in Eastern Market. Very nice French Bistro fare, owned by a French couple who IMO are very welcoming. Nice, authentic feel. Small as well. Menu recs include the braised rabbit with truffled linguini and the braised short rib. This place is really great on a cold night. The food is rich and filling.

                                    Matchbox: Haven't been yet, but their Chinatown location is great for a beer and sliders. Pizza is good too. The 8th street location is fairly new so not sure what the service will be like.

                                    Sonoma: Used to be one of my favorite spots. I believe they switched Chefs in the last year and ever since, there has been a serious falloff in the quality of food. Its nice for a glass of wine, but I would avoid it for food.

                                    I would agree with Hill Foodie that most of what the Capitol Hill area has to offer (Southside of the Capitol), you can find elsewhere. However, what draws me to the area is that it tends to be less crowded than other areas of the city. In general, you can go without worrying about large crowds or long waits. It can be a nice place if you are in the mood for a quieter scene.

                                    Also, if you feel the need to venture a little outside of the area, head to H St NE to Granville Moores for the best mussels and fries in DC. Bar none.

                                    1. re: caphil07

                                      I was at the bar at Matchbox (SE) the other night for drinks, nice room, friendly service (mobbed a day after Inauguration). later gave Cafe 8 a try - odd layout, ours was a clean-plate-club table, cheerful service from the waitress. cozy room with fireplace in the back I saw later.

                                      I guess I prefer the old Meyhane for Turkish, but really can't complain. like most places around here, not a destination, but for a casual neighborhood joint quite welcome.

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        Thank you Everyone for your great suggestions. We loved the Eastern Market Lunch atmosphere & the bluebucks/bacon & sausage were terrific. We tried Peregrine, too-liked it but did not love it (coffee was a little weak-but good.)
                                        Refreshing to not be in a chain coffee place! Off the topic, wanted to share our other food experiences this past weekend. Granville Moore's was incredible mussels & frites- THE BEST BY FAR I have ever had- Loved the cozy, cool, mellow atmosphere and decor-such a unique place-unfortunately, it is not metro-accesible and directions getting there are complicated. Matchbox for sliders was excellent as usual (starter salads a little on the small side.) Tenpenh was good-but nothing special-but we did enjoy our scallops w/ sweet potato & pork belly mash and loved the warm cinn & sugar donuts for dessert w/ dipping chocolate. Founding Farmers was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed their food including; kettle korn, grillled chesse & tomato soup, potroast w/ mashed potatoes, lobster mac & cheese, fried green tomatoes, bacon lollipops, salad and awesome, huge carrot cake-cool vibe, great menu!

                                        1. re: chicken kabob

                                          What coffee did you have at Peregrine? An Americano? Glad to hear you had a good experience at Founding Farmers. Was the grilled cheese sandwich typical or anything unusual? Thanks for the follow up report. Bacon lollipops!

                                          1. re: Treva

                                            Hi Treva- My brother had the coffee, and I think it was the Americano. I had the tea. thank you for your rec-we did like it there over all. To answer your question about the Founding Farmers grilled cheese- it was just really good bread (slightly sour dough taste) & the cheese was gruyere and cheddar combo. It was perfectly gooy and freshly made. When I asked the waitress about how they got it to taste so decadent-she said they add butter/mayo to the bread before grilling (I should have known something so yummy would be lethal-but worth it!) The bread was also warm and buttery throughout the entire piece, which added to the yummy-ness factor.

                                          2. re: chicken kabob

                                            The H Street transportation problem is SOLVED.
                                            There's a new FREE shuttle bus from Chinatown to H Street's Atlas Entertainment District that started running Jan. 2.
                                            I have not tried it yet, but according to Roll Call newspaper, "The shuttle will run every night from 5 p.m. until the Metro system closes. It starts at the Chinatown Metro stop so it will connect arts and entertainment districts, according to Patrick Stewart, owner of the Atlas Performing Arts Center at 1333 H St. NE, one of the stops on the route....There will be five stops between the pickups at the Gallery Place/Chinatown and Minnesota Avenue Metro stops."

                                  2. quick question, can you just eat at the stalls and "pick" your way through the market buying food from the vendors or do you have to go to a restaurant? thanks!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: bythebayov

                                      I think you can buy small stuff and nibble through depending on what you like to eat. I like the spiced nuts, cheese, crepes and in the summer the fresh peaches mmm.

                                      1. re: ktmoomau

                                        perfect, thanks:-)

                                        1. re: bythebayov

                                          It's not really that kind of a Market. The vendors sell un-cooked meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables. The Market Lunch is very good. Peregrine Espresso is very good. The crepe stand on the weekends is very good. Other than that, it's not really a grazing place. It is more of a let's buy something to make for dinner tonight kind of place.