Sep 21, 2023 - News

What's new and next at Union Market

Union Market lit up at night

Union Market. Photo courtesy of Edens

The Union Market District is among the fastest-growing, hottest neighborhoods in D.C.

Why it matters: In just over two decades, the area has gone from a place you'd mostly visit to catch a Greyhound bus, to one of D.C.'s most eclectic, destination-worthy spots for shopping, dining, and entertainment — not to mention walkable livability.

Driving the news: Union Market will welcome around 25 new businesses between July 2022 and the end of this year, both standalone and inside its two massive food halls, Union Market and Latin-themed La Cosecha.

  • The mix includes local fashion boutiques, art studios like Chela Mitchell Gallery, big-name chains including Glosslab, and food offerings from D.C. talents and out-of-town heavy hitters.
  • Seven new luxury apartment buildings will have sprouted up in the same time frame, adding more than 1,000 residential units and plush amenities such as rooftop infinity pools and private pet spas.

Yes, but: With the influx of new development, some of the area's long-standing businesses and residents have been pushed out or priced out.

Between the lines: Around 20 wholesalers still operate warehouses in the neighborhood (Mexican Fruits is a favorite with chefs-in-the-know), Edens CEO Jodie McLean tells Axios. The mega-developer, which launched Union Market food hall in 2012 and owns significant swaths of real estate around it, is still busy reinventing the area.

Stunning stats: 3.5 million people visit annually, according to Union Market developer Edens. Around 70 new residents move in per month.

  • Of the businesses in the district, over 40% are minority and/or women-owned.
Union Market District shops Politics & Prose
Union Market District shops. Photograph courtesy of Edens

Driving foot traffic: FreshFarm, the largest farmers market network in the region, just launched Sundays at Union Market with a dozen farmers and producers selling everything from breakfast biscuits to local liquor.

Flashback: All the vibrancy isn't new. Union Terminal Market, which opened in 1931, was a huge commercial center with a 700-vendor indoor/outdoor marketplace and café.

  • It was also home to a famous desegregated boxing gym and hosted traveling circuses. But by the '80s, the farmers market had closed and warehouses were falling into disrepair.

What they're saying: "Our real vision was investing in D.C., and to be part of the movement to make D.C. a world-class city," McLean says.

  • "We looked at what was missing — where's the hub? Where do you take visitors or go out on a weekend? Our vision was to create a district that met the needs of the local community and also drove people here."
An aerial view of Union Market District
A bird's view of UMD. Photo courtesy of Edens

What's new: Fresh options for tacos, indie fashion, local art…

🥪 Food halls vendors: La Buena Empanada; cheffy European sandwich spot Bar Boheme; Little Wild Things "farm to salad" stall; and Chinese street food stall Dàn Dàn Boy.

🍹Bars and restaurants: The month's biggest opening goes to El Presidente, a playful modern Mexican restaurant from Le Diplomate's Stephen Starr.

👡 Retail: By-appointment local fashion studio Ron David; Charix comfy leather shoes; and homegrown women's boutique Bitter Grace.

What's next: More Starr power, a bigger bookstore …

🦪Parachute Pizza, a pie bar with oysters and fun-loving wines, will open inside Union Market this year.

🍽️ Pastis, the famous NYC restaurant from power-duo Keith McNally and Stephen Starr, is coming very soon.

📚Politics & Prose will open an expanded local bookstore on Fourth Street, NE in the next months.

On the horizon: More nightlife (and overnight life).

🛎️ A small boutique hotel, which would join new lodging options like the artsy Selina and upscale The Morrow.

🎶 Sid Gold's Request Room, an offshoot of Manhattan's piano-karaoke bar, is in the works.

🥩 Minetta Tavern, another famed NYC institution from McNally, is tracking for next year.

🍷 Non Se, a rustic Mediterranean wine bar and restaurant from chef Matt Baker, will open next year.


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