Dec 20, 2022 - Food and Drink

D.C.'s ultimate food hall ranking

This food hall snagged our top spot. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

Hey, Paige here with the toughest assignment (😉) I've had to date: ranking D.C.’s top food halls. 

Why it matters: Our region has seen an influx of food halls over the years. It’s hard to figure out which ones are worth a trip, so I did the heavy lifting for you.

Methodology: I considered ordering methods, unique food options, seating, ambience, and variety. 

Pro tip: Most food halls on this list have public wifi, so consider switching up your WFH routine.

1. The Roost

The Capitol Hill food hall opened in 2020. It snagged our top spot because it's perfected the classics from burgers to tacos. Everything I tried was delicious. Plus, it has great variety without too many options. 

Must-try: Taco Night in America (beef, queso, pico) from Hi/Fi Taco.

Standout: Red Apron, a new-age butcher, serves up innovative treats like crispy pork belly poutine and a spicy pepperoni pizza burger (served on garlic Texas Toast).

For a quick bite: Grab a funfetti cookie from Cameo.

Bonus: There’s a Shop Made In DC inside.

Specs: The vibe is perfect for work lunches and gossipy dinners with friends, all while being buttoned up enough that it doesn’t feel like you’re eating in a cafeteria. 

  • Lots of individual and group seating options. 

Address: 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

Poutine from Red Apron.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for poutine (from Red Apron). Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

2. Union Market

Yes, I know, you’re surprised to see Union Market take second place. It is a fantastic food hall that represents so many different food traditions, but for those of us who get overwhelmed by lots of options (🙋🏾‍♀️) it’s not the easiest to navigate. Plus, the ordering systems and seating options could use improvement.

Must try: Puddin’s bread pudding. Even if you think you’re not a fan, this rendition will change your mind.

Top lunch: Yasmine’s beef shawarma. Add fries with toum for an extra treat.

Health kick: Grab a fresh juice from South Block.

Always a hit: Bun’d Up. The gua bao with a Taiwanese twist never disappoints. 

Specs: Indoor seating can be harder to come by, as some of it is reserved for specific vendors.

  • Order directly from each vendor.

Address: 1309 5th St. NE

A beef shawarma sandwich and fries from Yasmine.
A beef shawarma sandwich and fries from Yasmine. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

3. The Block (Annandale)

The Block is Asian fusion heaven. It has three locations all with different vendors — Annandale has great variety. 

  • It feels intimate without being cramped. The perfect spot to share a cozy meal with good friends. 

Must-try: Fried chicken tacos served on roti canai flatbread from Balô Kitchen.

Sweet tooth: Choose your own adventure at SnoCream Company with dozens of toppings and treats to add to their specialty ice cream/shaved ice hybrid. 

Comfort food: Bold Dumpling’s warm, fluffy bao buns.

Large servings: Everywhere. Come hungry.

Bonus: There are TVs, so come by to watch the game. 

Specs: Most of the seating is for groups. 

  • Cute outdoor dining area. 

Address: 4221 John Marr Dr., Annandale

Fried dumplings and bao from Bold Dumpling.
Fried dumplings and bao (inside) from Bold Dumpling. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

4. La Cosecha

The Union Market’s sister food hall serves top Latin American cuisine with specialty shops, too. Plus, many vendors stay open late even on weekends.

  • Each vendor has a perfected specialty, from Venezuelan chocolates to authentic Salvadoran food.

Must try: La Casita Pupuseria. Any and all of their authentic Salvadoran pupusas are the right choice.

Flavor bomb: Serenata’s chipotle deviled eggs.

Need a drink?: Try a creative cocktail at Serenata or a classic one at Las Gemelas.

Saucy: You’ll be tempted to drink Mosaico’s special green sauce. Put it on their tasty mini arepa trio instead. 

Specs: Tons of seating for all group sizes.

Address: 1280 4th St. NE

The mini arepa trio from  Mosaico.
The mini arepa trio from Mosaico. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

5. The Assembly

The Assembly feels more like a high-end coworking space with a full-service restaurant than a food hall. While not all of the food blew me away, the wait staff definitely did. They’re incredibly friendly and ensure diners have everything they need. 

Must try: The Grandpa Bob sandwich from Sammy’s Pickles. I ordered the sandwich for the name alone but the flavor-packed corned beef solidified my choice. 

Just like mama made it: Great Lake Diner’s meatloaf.

Always a good choice: Pork soup dumplings. Order Xiao Long Bar from Beng Beng.

Specs: There's plenty of aesthetically pleasing seating. Perfect for the ‘phone eats first’ crowd.

  • Lots of space to spread out.

Address: 1700 N Moore St., Arlington

Great Lake Diner's meatloaf.
Great Lake Diner's majestic meatloaf. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

6. Le Fantome

Inspired by European cafés, this market is super cute and has vendors that can’t be found anywhere else. For the most part, the food is solid but not groundbreaking, so less worthy of a special trip than the others on our list. 

Must try: Stuffed jalapeño tempura from Hōru. Once I finished them, I dipped my fries in the leftover sauce because it was just that good.

On the go? Grab a roll or two from Bombay Kitchen. The buttery flatbreads are addictive.

Celebrity cupcake: Mr. Bake, who’s made appearances on Netflix and Food Network, serves his tasty treats. Get the sweet potato cupcake and thank me later.

Specs: There’s not a ton of seating but you won’t have trouble finding a spot if you’re alone or in a small group.

  • Some vendors operate out of ghost kitchens, so don’t worry if you don’t see the storefront you’re looking for.

Address: 4501 Woodberry St., Riverdale Park 

Stuffed jalapeno tempura from Hōru
Stuffed jalapeño tempura from Hōru. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

7. Western Market

The market has a bunch of great options, but because many of them have multiple locations, like Roaming Rooster and Falafel Inc., you can get much of the same food elsewhere without battling GW students and office workers to get it. 

Must try: Donisima’s arequipe donut.

Always a hit: Roaming Rooster. Few fried chicken sandwiches rival theirs.

You can’t go wrong with: Anything from Guatemalan street food vendor Nim Ali. Their sandwiches are huge and their fried plantains are perfect. 

Specs: It can get a little chilly with so many folks moving in and out during the lunch rush, so bring a sweater.

  • Wide variety of seating options.

Address: 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #3500

Donisima’s arequipe donut.
Donisima’s arequipe donut. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

8. The Spot

Rockville’s Asian Food Hall is serving up authentic dishes that are hard to find elsewhere. That said, the food was pretty average but there are certainly a few tasty standouts.

One must-try: Mochi doughnuts from Momo Mochi. I loved the black sesame.

If you want leftovers: Go for the seafood stir-fried noodles from Mian.

Specs: Order at one of the electronic kiosks. The pick-up system can be a little wonky, but the staff is friendly and eager to help.

  • Fantastic playlist. 

Address: 255 N. Washington St., Rockville

Seafood stir fried noodles from Mian.
Seafood stir-fried noodles from Mian. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
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