Your guide to dining in DC’s hip and hungry paradise
NoMa (stands for North of Massachusetts Avenue) was once a hub for wholesale food vendors and industrial warehouses, but now acts as a foodie mecca in the heart of DC. The opening of Union Market kicked off NoMa’s renaissance and this pocket of the city is now attracting a host of up-and-coming chefs—and even a Michelin-starred restaurant.
A More Perfect Union
On any given weekend, stop into Union Market and you’ll see young professionals, moms and dads pushing strollers, students from nearby Gallaudet University and other food-focused patrons making their way around the warehouse’s dozens of vendors.
The popular destination is home to many homegrown favorites, from food truck-turned-Union Market-tenants TaKorean and DC Empanadas to an outpost of Italian gelateria Dolcezza Gelato.
Visitors can enjoy gourmet grocery shopping at vendors like Red Apron Butcher, Lyon Bakery and Trickling Springs Creamery. If you’re in the mood for a sit-down dining experience, head to Bidwell, which serves up signature Southern dishes with a twist, or Rappahannock Oyster Co., popular due to its menu of locally sourced oysters and clams.
Beyond the dining stations, Union Market’s expansive space allows for retail pop-ups and an annual foodie festival called The EmporiYUM, which brings in artisanal vendors from all over the country for a weekend of taste-testing.
Nearby, the award-winning Masseria offers up an authentic menu influenced by the flavors of the Puglia region where Chef Nick Stefanelli spent some of his childhood. The Michelin Guide took notice and awarded the NoMa gem one of its coveted stars. Choose from three to six courses inside the cozy, rustic environs.
And then there's O-Ku (“Oak” in Japanese), where Chef Bryan Emperor wants you to get excited about sushi. While you’ll be able to enjoy traditional sushi styles such as nigiri, the restaurant also showcases inventive dishes such as Tasmanian king salmon with golden tomato confit.
Former Top Chef finalist Marjorie Meek-Bradley is bringing the finest grilled dishes at St. Anselm, a sleek, 7,000 square-foot hot spot near Union Market. Start your meal off right with grilled oysters dressed in smoked herb butter or clams before choosing any number of grilled meats (think: ribeyes, flat irons, New York strips).
You’ll even find some of the best pizza in the city just around the corner at Stellina Pizzeria. Stellina’s menu also pays homage to coastal Italian street food (such as fried seafood served in paper cones, also known as a “cuoppo”), while every item on the menu is under $20.
Right Side of the Tracks
NoMa is also home to DC’s Union Station. The active transportation hub shuttles people to and from the city day and night, but even if you don’t have a train ticket, the station is worth a visit. The beautiful Beaux-Arts building features a soaring entryway, ornate ceiling and imposing columns perfect for that only-in-DC photo op. Union Station is also home to some can’t-miss dining, like the sit-down Thunder Grill, an outpost of burger favorite Shake Shack and the delightfully delicious Magnolia Bakery (sampling the banana pudding is a must).