Fresh Activity at Union Market

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It’s been a busy spring at Union Market, where numerous vendors offer food and drink for carryout and dining-in.

Like a rude dinner guest who refuses to leave, winter lingered far too long. But finally, as spring arrived, we noticed lots of activity at Union Market, 1309 Fifth St. NE. Most vendors ‒ old and new ‒ offer food to enjoy in the market’s indoor, outside and rooftop seating or to take home. Most packaging is sustainable.

1. In Union Market, Son of a Fish dispenses freshly made sushi and sashimi items in sustainable packaging.

A recent midday foray revealed healthy, yet yummy, newcomers, including Son of a Fish, which offers pre-packaged items like California rolls (made with real crab), salmon sashimi, bagel-inspired smoked salmon rolls with cream cheese, “rainbow rolls” and Green Dragon. The latter is composed of eel (unagi) enveloped in velvety avocado, rice and seaweed. To ensure freshness, the kitchen makes two or three batches of sushi daily. Visit www.sonofafishsushi.com.

Near the Union Market entrance, Som Tam prepares Siamese staples like pad thai (with chicken or tofu), garden rolls (filled with chicken or tofu), tom yum soup and larb salad, with lemon grass-scented chicken and black sticky rice, crispy herbed wings and more. Watch for daily specials. To drink: beer, ultra-sweet Thai-style tea and sodas.

Banana Blossom Bistro serves updated Asian dishes including garden rolls, stir-fried veggies, “plain” pho (in a savory veggie broth), banh mi (traditional or vegan), basil limeade, Vietnamese-style coffee. Visit www.bananablossombistro.com.

At Harvey’s Market, we bought Benton’s bacon ($16.79 per pound, but well worth it) for our BLTs and spaghetti carbonara. Moreover, Harvey’s has expanded its menu, now offering all sorts of sandwiches, including roast beef with cheddar and horseradish on toasted sourdough and hot pastrami and Swiss on rye. As we passed the small frozen meat section, catching my eye was a block of ground wild boar (from Texas), tagged at $22.99 per pound.

Union Market is open daily, but vendors might keep different hours. For more information visit www.unionmarketdc.com.

Shaw newcomer Cracked Eggery slings hearty breakfast sandwiches
and bowls in a casual, diner-like environment.

Egging It On

Good news for early ‒ and not-so-early ‒ risers: Cracked Eggery has hatched in Shaw. Breakfast fans will find it at 1921 Eighth St. NW. Customers may stroll into the neon-lit shop from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily to chow down on 15 kinds of delightfully messy egg sandwiches, bowls built on rice, veggies, and pork belly and other updated diner classics.

Among favorites are The Basic (scrambled egg, American and cheddar cheeses); Southern Charm (BLT with fried green tomato, pimento cheese, arugula and lemon aioli on a toasted challah bun). Breads are made by Maryland’s well-known Lyon Bakery. Bowls include Seoul Made (pork belly, fried egg, rice, mayo and more). There’s also a kid’s menu as well as coffee, bottled water and sodas.

Co-owners Mike Tabb and AJ Zarinsky launched their business at a farmers’ market, then advanced to a food truck before opening a bricks-and-mortar eatery in Cleveland Park last fall. Their 14-seat Shaw spinoff debuted last month. For more information, visit www.crackedeggery.com.

Speaking of breakfast in Shaw: Halfsmoke/Butter Me Up, 651 Florida Ave. NW (near Howard University Hospital) serves all-day brunch. Among favorites are Halfsmoke Lovers Hash (chicken, sausages, bacon), spicy Cajun shrimp-and-grits with andouille sausage, crabcake with shrimp, home fries and a sunnyside-up egg. Plus the usual brunch beverages like mimosas and Bloody Marys. Visit www.halfsmoke.com.

Near Howard University Hospital, Halfsmoke/Butter Me Up serves a delicious, all-day brunch, plus traditional brunch cocktails.

Latino Lunch

Good news for Mount Vernon Triangle residents and others seeking mid-day sustenance: dLena, 476 K St. NW, has launched weekday lunch service. And more good news: the upscale, colorful “modern Mexican” restaurant created by chef Richard Sandoval has also implemented a luxury chef’s table experience.

Here’s the lunch deal. Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., guests can savor a Latino-style grilled Caesar salad with romaine, croutons, pickled veggies, spicy pepitas and cotija cheese, an assortment of tacos, and medio pollo al carbon (half grilled chicken marinated with guajillo-achiote, criolla sauce and served with grilled broccolini). Other offerings include the seven-ounce prime dLena burger with bacon jam and chimichurri snuggled in a pretzel bun, Maryland crab sliders with Old Bay seasoned fries and skirt steak a la piedra with fajita peppers, molcajete sauce, crema fresca, guacamole and tortillas.

Come evening, guests can partake in the luxury chef’s table experience, Thursday through Saturday nights. With two seatings per night at 5:00 and 8:30 p.m., diners enjoy an eight-course menu for $125 per person, with wine pairings for $75. The chef’s table is located behind the main bar facing the open kitchen. dLena also serves weekend brunch from 10 a.m. ‘til 3 p.m.

For reservations and more information visit www.dlenadc.com.

Puerto Rican Pernil, Pasteles and Pastelon

Qui Qui, 1539 Seventh St. NW (upstairs from the Passenger bar), is dispensing Puerto Rican victuals and drinks. Expect chef Ismael Mendez’s pernil (roast pork), pasteles (like tamales) and pastelon, a Puerto Rican version of lasagna, and lots more. For updates, visit www.quiquidc.com.

MVT RAMMY Finalists

Congrats and best of luck to the four Mount Vernon Triangle and 10 Shaw restaurants and team members nominated for the 40th annual RAMMY Awards, presented by Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). The nominees are:

• Mount Vernon Square. Rising Culinary Star of the Year (up and coming chef), Elias Taddesse (Melange); Manager of the Year, Gian Mario Cabiddu (Alta Strada); Casual Restaurant of the Year, Baan Siam; Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year, Nama.

• Shaw. New Restaurant of the Year, Oyster Oyster; Chef of the Year, Cedric Maupillier (Convivial) and Rob Rubba (Oyster Oyster); Cocktail Program of the Year, Service Bar; Best Brunch of the Year, Nina May; Hottest Sandwich Spot, Cracked Eggery; Splendid Holidays at Home, Convivial and Kinship; Manager of the Year, Rob Heim (Shaw’s Tavern); Employee of the Year, Amanda Bell (All Purpose-Shaw).

Winners will be announced at the RAMMY Awards black-tie gala July 24 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. For more information visit www.ramw.org.

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