D.C. has a lot of great food options. Sure, it’s not New York City, but sometimes the choices can be overwhelming. Lucky for District foodies on a budget, the EmporiYUM came to town this past weekend. The one-of-a-kind food marketplace, which originated in Baltimore last year, made its way back to Dock 5 at Union Market to bring together some of the area’s best bites. For the price of admission, guests could sample food and browse goods from nearly 100 local artisans, chefs, and restaurants. The sheer number of vendors was a bit overwhelming, so Shruti, my roommate Caitlin, and I divided and conquered.
First up, it was Sunday at 10 a.m., so naturally I needed to re-hydrate. Our pal Charlie from Element Shrub was there with his vinegar-based fruit syrup concoctions, which incidentally, mix well with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. After sipping a mocktail, it was time to try the bloody Mary mix from Gordy’s Pickles and cider from Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery. My roommate liked the cider so much she took home a whole bottle! Shruti loved learning about Prohibition in the District from Green Hat, the first gin distillery since before the ban.
Hungry as we were, we had to contain ourselves to small bites so we could maximize our sampling. (We’re serious business). I skipped the long lines for Bullfrog Bagels, Timber Pizza, and Dirty South Deli (all delicious and clearly popular with the crowds) and bee-lined for Succotash, the new southern comfort food restaurant in National Harbor. Their cornmeal fried catfish sandwich with slaw and jalapeno mint remoulade smelled heavenly. I can’t wait to try their brunch menu in the coming months.
I spent a solid ten minutes entranced by the burrito-wrapping (sushi-making?) skills of the Buredo team. It is a true talent, and those burrito-sized sushi rolls are works of art. My roommate spent those ten minutes sampling whiskey-soaked and black truffle salamis from Creminelli, a family-focused brand that imports fine Italian meats. When we met back up, I asked “what direction should we go?” Caitlin simply responded with, “cheese.” Sfoglini, the NYC-based handmade pasta has caught her attention. They were whipping up the most incredible rye trumpets with bolognese sauce. I could have eaten a whole bowl right there.
Last on my must-hit food list were my friends at Swizzler. If you haven’t hit up their bright blue food truck for lunch, put it on your to-do list. These gourmet hot dogs are spiral cut and adorned with creative toppings, like the Leonardo dog Vinci (think caprese salad on a frank) and the seasonal Jackie Cran, with roasted butternut squash, cranberry jalapeno relish, and fried sage. It. Was. Bomb.
We’re professionals, so obviously we left room for dessert. Some of our favorites, like Whisked! (available at Glen’s Garden Market), Fatty Sundays and Dolcezza gelato were there. District Doughnut and The Capital Candy Jar both stole the show with doughnuts and make-your-own s’mores respectively, being toasted on site with blowtorches. I designed my own s‘more with a pumpkin pie marshmallow and milk chocolate. It was messy and glorious.
Shruti got to try Slender Seven, a vegan-friendly, gluten-free cookie dough made with organic chick peas. It might sound crazy, but their new maple spice flavor is amazing. The best part is you don’t have to feel bad about eating it raw, there are no eggs! Guests also got the chance to buy pre-packaged treats from Momofuku’s Milk Bar, the hottest new restaurant and candy sweet shop in CityCenterDC. Thank goodness too, because Bitches hate waiting in lines.
EmporiYUM was also a great chance to get a jump start on our holiday shopping. I bought my Dad a sample pack of ‘Chups, the Bitches’ favorite condiment in town. Artisanal salts from Bulls Bay Saltworks and herb-blends from Spice Makes Nice are cute gifts for the gourmet chefs in your life. We also loved the stocking-stuffer potential for Mast Brothers chocolates (for the bougie choco-holic) or granola by Oat My Goodness (for the happy hipster).
Overall, it was an incredible event. The weather was perfect for wandering around out under the tent and every vendor was incredibly friendly. Everyone was happy to tell us more about their background and where we could find their products in stores around D.C. We’ll definitely be back.
Pro tip for next year’s event: A VIP ticket allows for a 10 a.m. entry where you can receive a tote bag with tons of goodies from vendors including fresh fruit, coffee grounds, protein bars, gourmet granola, ketchup, mixers and more. You can also avoid the crowd and sample everything earlier along with complimentary brunch bites and cocktails.