Home / Travel / Travel

Washington gives fast food a good name

China Daily/Agencies | Updated: 2013-07-08 10:10
Washington gives fast food a good name

Union Market is a gleaming food hall that has hosted local farmers, butchers and vendors. [Photo/Provided to China Daily]

Washington, D.C.'s culinary scene has traditionally been known for its power restaurants: Clubby spots, often run by celebrity chefs, where political movers-and-shakers cut deals and charred steaks.

But recently, the city has embraced the flip side of fine dining. Several casual spots have opened, offering fresh, inexpensive, vibrant fare that gives fast food a good name.

The Union Market, perhaps the centerpiece of this development, is a gleaming food hall in a gritty northeast corner of the city. Since opening in November, it has hosted local farmers, butchers and other artisanal vendors, offering quick, casual bites.

"There are high-quality groceries - the little farm stand sells really nice lamb chops," says Roy Edroso, a regular market customer. "But I keep coming back for the prepared food. It's terrific."

At Rappahannock Oyster Company's stand at the market, diners perch at a long counter to slurp Chesapeake Bay shellfish and sip wine. A few feet away, the popular area food truck, Takorean, has established a brick-and-mortar presence for its Korean-inspired tacos, while the whimsical soda fountain Buffalo & Bergen blends egg creams, floats and cocktails infused with house-made syrups in original flavors like orange sassafras or spiced blackberry.

Cured meats are the focus at DGS, or District Grocery Store Delicatessen, a modern spin on a Jewish deli. Nearly everything - pickles, pastrami, corned beef, the Reuben sandwich's sauerkraut, even the crowning dollop of mustard - is house-made. An airy dining room features an open kitchen, brick walls and shelves displaying jars of pickles, while a takeout counter dispenses quick sandwiches at lunchtime.

Elsewhere, it's an actual fast-food chain that's pushing the genre's boundaries. Chipotle Mexican Grill chose Washington to test its new Southeast Asian dining concept, opening its first branch of ShopHouse in Dupont Circle in 2011.

The restaurant features the same industrial-chic ambience, fresh ingredients and cafeteria-style service as its Latin parent. Diners combine noodles or rice with grilled meat or tofu, wok-blistered vegetables and sauces like tangy tamarind vinaigrette or searing red curry.

The venture has been so successful, the company is planning a second outpost in Georgetown, as well as one in Los Angeles.

Two doors from ShopHouse, the bright and buzzy salad emporium Sweetgreen tosses locally sourced vegetables into creative combinations like the spicy sabzi, which mixes baby spinach, roasted broccoli, quinoa, a squirt of sriracha and chile-carrot vinaigrette.

A chalkboard menu lists the provenance of many ingredients, like Maryland goat cheese or kale from Delaware.

Opened by three Georgetown University undergraduates in 2007, the business has expanded to 12 Washington-area stores.

Washington gives fast food a good name

Washington gives fast food a good name

Nature, art, durians & roti

Cool escapes for the summer

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349