Union Market will get a double dose of Chef Alex McCoy by the end of the year.
First, the budding restaurateur will take over the stall formerly occupied by Philly Wing Fry, which closed last month. It will soon be an outpost of McCoy’s popular burger spot, Lucky Buns. The original location of the perennial contender for best burger in D.C. is in Adams Morgan. There, the menu includes towering burgers dripping in “lucky sauce,” fried chicken sandwiches, vegetarian options, and sides like a spice bag borrowed from Ireland.
McCoy says the Lucky Buns line-up inside Union Market won’t be as extensive. The focus will be on burgers, fries, hot chicken, and a couple of surprises not available in Adams Morgan. His team is working with a fryer and flat top grill. “We’re at that point where we’re starting to expand,” McCoy says. “This is the beginning of all that.”
McCoy is also opening an outpost of Som Tam, the Thai papaya salad and khao soi stall he’s still planning to open inside a former ATM vestibule in NoMa. Construction on that space is taking longer than expected, so he inked a five-year deal in Union Market, where he’s currently building out a stall that should have the look and feel of a typical som tam stand in Thailand.
Thai natives Lekki Limvatana and Satang Ruangsangwanata are doing the cooking. They have recently been honing their skills through the Fat Nomads Supper Club. The menu will include variations of som tam—the namesake Thai papaya salads—as well as khao soi noodle soups and khao gaeng curry rice.
Limvatana’s mother has a khao gaeng restaurant in the Uttaradit province of Thailand called Khao Gaeng Kim-Lai. Diners will be able to select rice or noodles and top the bowl with a rotating selection of curries, like jungle and massaman. McCoy is obtaining a liquor license, so diners can wash everything down with a Thai beer.
The Som Tam stall will have five stools. “We’re going to do very limited full tasting menus there,” McCoy says. He’s imagining a five- or six-course meal highlighting food from different regions of Thailand. “I want to play with some cool exciting dishes you don’t often see.”
His hope is that being in the bustling market atmosphere will recreate the feeling of eating in Thailand.
Lucky Buns and Som Tam, 1309 5th St. NE