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Jun 27, 2012 08:26 AM

recommendations for supermarkets, butchers, fishmongers, farmers markets in DC?

Hi all,

I'm investigating the possibility of a move to DC (oh, lucky you, to live there - so so so impressive!). Based on where I work and my preference for walking to work rather than driving, I'm thinking best place to live might be in/around Georgetown or (I think I have this right?) Foggy Bottom.

I like to cook, though, and it would be wise to make my final choice based on where the good food stores are. Because shopping once a week at a supermarket is just no fun as compared to stopping in at the great farmer's market or fish monger on the way home, yes?

So... yes, I know about Whole Foods. But I don't know Southern supermarkets (who is this Harris Teeter person?). And I don't know DC supermarkets (who do you all like?). I also know next to nothing about your ethnic neighbourhoods and their markets (I'd be quite thrilled if I had to shop at a good Chinese market for the rest of my life!), Or farmers' markets. Or great butchers/fishmongers/cheese shops/such.

Any advice? This isn't urgent, but I AM interested.


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  1. Based on this, sounds like you'd love living near Eastern Market (Capitol Hill) and taking the Metro to work.

    3 Replies
    1. re: woodleyparkhound

      I hadn't even considered that option! Had to go find out and you are spot on. Might be a GREAT option!

      1. re: woodleyparkhound

        Woodleyparkhound has it 100% right.

        Capitol Hill - particularly the area right around Eastern Market is exactly what you seem to be looking for, with the added bonus of also being a better actual neighborhood than Georgetown.

        1. If getting around is an issue, unless you work in Georgetown (it sounds like you would though), I would not live there. No metro, and traffic is a nightmare. Living walking distance to a metro station is big.

          Can't help you with the fish mongers, I don't eat seafood. Most will say that WF is your best bet for groceries, along with Trader Joe's. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of WF, and I prefer Giant in the District. TJ's is good, except you can't get everything you need. Though Wegman's is far superior to any of them, but there aren't any nearby. I initially thought I was going to like Harris Teeter, but was continuously disappointed in them. Safeway, which I had often shopped at in CA, was pretty bad. Could just be certain locations though (City Center Safeway).

          There really aren't any ethnic markets in the District (you'd have to go out to the suburbs), but Eastern Market is alright for produce/meats/cheeses. The Dupont Farmer's Market is usually pretty solid - but fairly overpriced - as well.

          I guess for frame of reference, it kind of depends on where you are coming from...

          8 Replies
          1. re: mdpilam

            Fish Mongers - Eastern Market, Maine Street Wharf, Blacksalt. Whole Foods has a nice fish selection as well. In the spring in summer many parts of the city have weekend farmers markets

            1. re: mdpilam

              The frame of reference is definitely a concern. And, to be frank, so would be cost. To live in Georgetown, you'll be living in the most expensive part of the city in terms of property for the benefit of having no Metro, awful street parking, chain restaurants, no immediate grocery stores, and tourist inundation.

              Eastern Market or Logan Circle would both be my preference for you. To get real ethnic places, you have to venture toward where rent isn't so expensive, but as mdpilam said, a lot of that depends on where you're coming from.

              1. re: katecm

                Excellent! Thank you so much, Kate! I'll look into Logan Circle. For reference, I wouldn't be working in Georgetown. Closer, in fact, to Faragut (sp?) metro station(s). Frame of reference otherwise: I hate mass transit (esp subways/metros - claustrophobic), so I'll always avoid them if I can. But I'll give up a lot for access to great fish and great produce in my neighbourhood. And for living in a real neighbourhood, with real coffee, and real sidewalks! (Sorry, I don't mean to diss you if you are a suburbanite but... we all have our little quirks, yes? This is one of my painfully many!)

                Can you tell me why you like Logan Circle for foodies?

                1. re: linengirl

                  I live very near Logan Circle. 14th St. is absolutely choked with great restaurants. I recently saw an article about 14 more going up in the next year. It's very close to a Whole Foods and to U St. - another street with lots of restaurant options. The Soviet Safeway is nearby but it's terrible. Dupont Circle is about 20 mins. walk away and there is a lot there too. Both U St. and Dupont Circle have farmer's markets. LC is a great neighborhood, but for one-stop shopping for all of what you mentioned, I still would recommend Eastern Market.

                  You can take buses instead of the Metro, which can be better, depending. I don't think walking to work and living in close proximity to all those amenities is a realistic expectation.

                  1. re: woodleyparkhound

                    It kind of depends on your tolerance for walking. I live on the far eastern border of Shaw and walk to one of my consultants' offices by Farragut North every now and then. It takes about 40 minutes. So from Logan Circle, you could just stroll down Rhode Island and be there in 20. But I know a lot of people who DON'T want to do that walk, and it would be further if you were on the northern end of Logan.

                    1. re: katecm

                      I live in Logan and walk to work everyday in between foggy bottom and Dupont. I love walking (but I could take a bus) and so it's not a big deal for me. My husband wouldn't walk this far every day. Logan has Whole Foods, if you are ok with their price point it is a wonderful asset - not the best meat, fish, bread - but very solid.

                      I supplement it with Trader Joe's, the farmer's market nearby at Dupont, and a few small businesses around town for things that are dear enough to me to warrant driving - fish, wine, cheese.

                      Logan is not cheap to live in, but you can't beat the dining options in short walking distance.

                    2. re: woodleyparkhound

                      I live in your neighborhood and totally agree with all of your points. I do my shopping at that Safeway (grudgingly), the Whole Foods, and try to get to the U Street farmers market on Saturday mornings (it's not year-round; it's closed Thanksgiving-May 1). The OP's hopes of dropping by farmers markets on the way, I'm not sure that's really possible in too many places. DC is not one of them, except for the Eastern Market option which you've pointed out.

                      1. re: hamster

                        This has all been incredibly helpful. Thank you for your input, hamster! Every city has unique charms and unique issues, yes? It is so SO great to be able to get opinions and advice on this from you all, rather than having to learn it the hard way by myself!

              2. I also live in Logan. It's just a very centrally located neighborhood with some decent places to eat a few minutes walk away. I will say this, if you are planning on living in DC, you should give up your hatred of mass transit. You get around DC by the metro. That's the way it works. I suppose if you have the cash you could cab everywhere, but parking sucks, streets can sometimes be confusing, and traffic often blows. You can walk to nearby places, you can bike (if you're savvy about urban biking) and you can metro. I am not good on a bike so I walk and metro, and I have no idea how I would be able to enjoy the city if I refused to use it..

                In Logan, you'd be a short drive from a Harris Teeter (about 8-10 minutes) and could walk to a Whole Foods. Closest farmers market is Dupont Circle on sundays and U Street on saturdays, both about a 15 minute walk. There are really no such things as daily farmers market in DC. We also have no fishmongers per se, just Whole Foods. The closest alternative is the enormous Maine Avenue seafood market, which is open daily but basically only accessible by car (about a 15-20 minute drive each way depending on traffic). It does have generally excellent seafood with enormous selection, just bring a cooler and pack on ice.

                If you worked near Farragut North or South, and lived in Georgetown, had no car, and hated public transportation...well, hopefully you'd be able to work from home cause you'd have a bear of a time getting to work without using a cab each day.

                If you want good ethnic markets, you have to leave DC and venture into the suburbs. I lived in Silver Spring for years and can vouch for the H Mart in Wheaton as an excellent Asian market.

                2 Replies
                1. re: The Big Crunch

                  I still haven't been to the Maine Avenue seafood market, but isn't it a short walk from the Waterfront Metro?

                  1. re: 4X4

                    You're right. But, depending on metro, it could still easily be more than twenty minutes each way. For example, I'd have to walk to Dupont, transfer to the green, get to Waterfront/SEU, and walk to the market. Depending on how much fish I bought, I'd also have to carry a large, heavy, cooler. So, car would still probably be prefferable.

                2. I have had a hard time finding recommendations outside of Whole Foods and TJs. I would have expect the grocery shopping experience to be more robust in DC. I'm not a fan or Giant or Harris Teeter. Wegman's is in the burbs. OP, there is a Dean and Deluca in Georgetown.

                  A CSA may provide the best quality, but I do not have the space to accomodate. I'd love a recommendation for a good butcher, bakery and fishmonger between the Orange line (furthest west going to Ballston) or red heading towards Dupont Circle.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cityhopper

                    Would you be willing to stroll to Georgetown? Stachowski's is AMAZING. Go for a sandwich and take home his wonderful meats to cook for dinner.

                    1. re: cityhopper

                      Grocery stores in DC is a recent thing 10 years ago they were only a handful

                      1. re: agarnett100

                        But the handful were oozing charm and character:

                        The Social Safeway to hit on girls in their workout clothes after an aerobics class while they bought four pound salads from the "make you own" bar.

                        The Un-Safeway where the junkies walked up to the coinstar machine with the days proceed to get cash money and if you wanted to you could score a nickel bag around the corner after you were done shopping.

                        The Spring Valley Superfresh with that fantastic wine aisle and the parking lot that was more dangerous than the Un-Safeway because of all the little old ladies who tried to park there but couldn't see over their dash-boards.

                        Roland's on Capitol Hill where you could get just about anything as long as you didn't care about the expiration date and didn't mind the mark-up.