When I sat down to write a guide to my new neighborhood, I at first thought I’d combine three areas into one: Capitol Hill, Barracks Row, and Eastern Market. But, as I began to outline, I realized that each corner of the neighborhood is so different and has so much to offer that combining them would be a gargantuan task. So, the first of the three is up today: the Eastern Market Guide.
I’d like to make these neighborhood guides a larger series, but, for now, you can check out my H Street guide from last year.
THE EASTERN MARKET NEIGHBORHOOD
Easily accessible via the orange and blue line metro (the Eastern Market stop, fittingly), Eastern Market is a smaller enclave within the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Filled with stately Federal-style homes, intricate Victorians, and adorable little (expensive) houses, the architecture in Eastern Market is among my favorite in the city.
The neighborhood was originally founded around, duh, Eastern Market — one of three public markets that appeared in Pierre L’Enfant’s 18th-century plans for Washington — and its sense of history is tangible. When we were first looking at places to move, I loved that this neighborhood has a feeling of community that I hadn’t seen anywhere else in DC. People move here — and stay here. It doesn’t have the annual turnover that you’ll often find in other areas. Our neighbors to our rear have lived here 35 years and the woman two doors down is eager to gossip about anyone who crosses her (specifically, the millennial-filled group house really gets her going…have these kids no respect?!).
EASTERN MARKET GUIDE: THE MARKET
Prior to moving to the area, the only reason I ever visited the Capitol Hill area was to peruse Eastern Market on the weekends. I had no concept of where I was or that there was a vibrant neighborhood beyond the market itself. And, while the market building is open 7 days a week, the weekend market does remain the #1 draw on Saturdays and Sundays.
Every weekend, the roads are closed down and vendors take over the streets. Farmers market stands selling seasonal produce, homemade goodies, and artisan food items hang out next to craftspeople, vintage boutiques, and flea market finds. I love strolling through the busy stalls on weekend mornings, taking in the diversity and vibrancy of our city.
However, the market isn’t just the vendors that set up outside on the weekends — there are also butchers, florists, cheesemongers, and, of course, The Market Lunch, which resides 6 days a week within the circa 1873 market building. Do yourself a favor and grab the pancakes (cash only, please) at The Market Lunch before perusing the outdoor market on the weekend. But also know that it cracks me up that the Yelp reviews for Eastern Market seem to be people who go on a weekday expecting the weekend market and are like, “this is a market?” Yes, yes, it is. And I go several days a week to pick up deli meat from Canales and meat from Union Meat. I love knowing my people there and feeling like it’s a community, not a big box grocery store. PS Once you pick up ground beef from a real butcher, you’ll never go back.
Also, don’t miss the food tents that set up next to the market on weekends — the spot with the chorizo quesadillas is my go-to, while Adam loves the West African sandwiches.
Oh! And, there is also a farmers market on Tuesdays until 7 PM. I love taking a quick walk to pop by, grab some produce, and stock up on fresh-baked bread from Ravenhook Bakehouse for the week.
EASTERN MARKET GUIDE: WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Eastern Market isn’t a weekend-only destination, of course! There are restaurants and bars all over the neighborhood, but, for the purposes of this hyper-local guide, I’m only going to run through those that line 7th Street SE, the area immediately around the market itself.
- The Eastern: a new and highly-hyped wine bar, this popular spot lives up to expectations (all the images here are from an evening we spent there at the end of summer). Make sure to get the pimento cheese and the lamb meatballs.
- Tunnicliff’s Tavern: a classic spot where you’ll find old-timey locals and young staffers sitting side by side, this restaurant has, I swear, the best pizza in DC.
- Bullfrog Bagels: There’s not much I love more than sitting outside Bullfrog Bagels with a bagel sandwich walking the world go by. Adam recently got the Oriole sandwich and I’d highly recommend.
- Tortilla Cafe: I love getting an empanada platter with plantains and a horchata from this tiny Mexican-Salvadoran spot.
- Prego Deli: Right next to Tortilla Cafe, I bypassed this deli for too long. It’s delish — an excellent spot to grab a Italian sub.
- Radici Market: Stop by in the morning for a coffee or pick up a pasta to-go on your way home from work. Rumor is Michelle stopped by a time or two during the Obama administration.
- Eat Brgz: Sometimes you need something fast and, so far, Adam and I have enjoyed the “mix-in” burgers we’ve gotten here. A little bit of a novelty, but definitely yummy.
- Peregrine Espresso: A local DC coffee shop, this is the spot where I always meet friends and networking dates.
- Boxcar Tavern: A classic restaurant with solid bar food and outdoor seating.
- Moorenko’s: There’s literally always a pint of Moorenko’s ice cream in my freezer. It’s well priced for craft ice cream at $6/pint and they carry peppermint.
- Captain Cookie: I don’t go here often because it’s so indulgent but, omg, their ice cream sandwiches are out of this world.
- Turning Natural: When Jrink went out of business in Eastern Market, this established DC juice shop snatched up the spot quickly. They have a few more locations in the area and are great addition to the neighborhood for days when I don’t want a bagel.
- The Duck and the Peach: This is the new kid on the block and I’m obsessed. It’s a coffee shop, lunch spot, and a chic restaurant. The interior is incredible and there’s lots of outdoor seating. Get the short rib dinner. You won’t regret it.
EASTERN MARKET GUIDE: WHERE TO SHOP
While it’s wonderful and I don’t think a weekend is complete without a stroll through the flea, the market isn’t the once place to shop in Eastern Market! Here are a few of the other spots in the neighborhood.
- Clothes Encounters…of a second kind: a high-end consignment shop, my very favorite kind of consignment shop, this is an awesome place to find fashionable steals. I snagged a pair of super-unique Frye boots for $75 and Kate Spade heels for $30.
- Capitol Hill Books: if you’re looking for entertainment, follow Capitol Hill Books on Twitter. If you’re looking for books, stop by the shop.
- Fairy Godmother: I always want to call this Fairy Codmother bc of a bar on U Street, but, no, this is a lovely kids’ toy store and it’s where I always stop to get children’s birthday party gifts.
- Groovy DC Cards and Gifts: Another cute gift shop, but for the older set.
There are also a few stores that I haven’t been in, selling everything from leather goods to rugs. I’ll have to check those out and update later!
EASTERN MARKET GUIDE: A FEW FINAL NOTES AND THE EXTRAS
When it comes to things to do in Eastern Market, it’s all about the market, eating, and drinking. You’ll have to wait for my Capitol Hill guide for more history and cultural activities, but the bottom line is this neighborhood has everything you could need.
I’m writing this guide for visitors, mostly, but, if I’m trying to sell you on living here, it’s worth noting that we literally have everything — a coworking space, a Trader Joe’s, a vet, a hair salon, a nail salon, a brow salon (really primping here, are we?), cleaners, and more. Seriously, what more could you want?