Union Market is well-known as a culinary destination in D.C. When it opened in 2012, the market was surrounded by warehouses that were still largely oriented toward wholesale businesses. And while that industrial character remains — pedestrians may have to dodge the occasional forklift and delivery truck — there’s been a new wave of restaurants and cafes in the neighborhood over the past several months.
Sample grilled meats and seafood alongside a robust selection of wine (including fortified varieties such as Madeira and sherry) at this rustic tavern. Restaurateurs Stephen Starr (Le Diplomate) and Joe Carroll brought the concept to D.C. from Brooklyn, though the Union Market version is uniquely D.C., thanks to the cooking of executive chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley (Smoked & Stacked).
The dinner menu includes small bites such as biscuits with pimento cheese and grilled salmon collar, as well as monstrous (and shareable) tomahawk steaks priced by the ounce. Brunch was recently launched with such offerings as blue crab deviled eggs and oysters and grits. 1250 Fifth St. NE.
Upscale bowling is definitely a thing these days, whether it’s at Pinstripes or Lucky Strike. The Eleanor is the latest place in the city to let you play a round or two while enjoying a cocktail. The dinner menu features oysters on the half shell, a spaghetti sandwich, sweet potato gnocchi and buttermilk fried chicken thighs. Brunch is available, as well. Reservations are required in advance for the restaurant’s two duckpin-style bowling lanes, and the hands-on entertainment also includes Skee-Ball, a few pinball machines and console games such as Pac-Man and Big Buck Hunter. 100 Florida Ave. NE.
This Japanese sushi spot serves raw seafood as well as meats cooked over a traditional robata grill. Though O-Ku has several sister locations in the southeast, the D.C. menu is inspired by executive chef Bryan Emperor’s travels to countries such as Japan and Korea. The main-level sushi bar is a sleek setting for a lively group gathering or a date night. Peruse the larger selection of Japanese whiskeys at the upstairs bar, or enjoy a cocktail on the open-air patio overlooking Union Market and the Capitol building. 1274 Fifth St. NE.
Founded by a trio of Wilson High School alumni, the Village Cafe aims to be a gathering space for the community. The cafe serves coffee from Southeastern Roastery, along with a selection of sandwiches, cocktails, beer and wine. Food, though, is just one part of the concept. The Village Cafe is planning regular programming to include album releases from local musicians, art exhibitions, career-skills workshops, children’s story time and more. 1272 Fifth St. NE.
Head to the Edison apartment building for an all-day fix of baked goods from Pluma, an extension of the Bluebird Bakery brand that got its start selling wholesale baked goods. Co-owner Camila Arango says she’s particularly proud of the croissants. Savory toasts, sandwiches and pizzas are offered for anyone looking for light evening fare. Think burrata with green tomato jam, olive oil and herbs on sourdough, or the Standard pizza, a pie topped with San Marzano tomato puree, basil and buffalo mozzarella. Bread lovers take note: Sourdough loaves and baguettes are sold Monday through Friday starting at noon. 391 Morse St. NE.