District Fishwife donburi. All photos Laura Hayes.
District Fishwife donburi. All photos Laura Hayes.

Union Market boasts food from all over the world, reflecting the city’s population. But unlike the District at large, almost half of the eateries housed in the bustling food hall in Northeast are fully or partially owned by women. Women are behind retail shop Salt & Sundry, spice shop Bazaar Spices, Teaism, Neopol Savory Smokery, and ArepaZone, among others. We scoured the market’s woman-owned stalls for the best bites to try on your next visit. 

Shrimp Donburi at The District Fishwife ($12)

Aussie fishmonger and District Fishwife co-owner Fiona Lewis runs a pristine fish counter full of sea treasures that you can take home and cook. But don’t skip over the dine-in menu. The shrimp donburi features lightly fried shrimp that aren’t greasy plus pickled veggies to cut through the richness. District Fishwife sources the kimchi, honey habanero daikon, and masala beets from Number 1 Sons, which is owned by a brother and sister team. 

Open-Faced Uttapam Dosa at DC Dosa ($9.90)

Most customers at DC Dosa in Union Market come away with dramatically wide, paper-thin South Indian crepes known as dosas. But when the market is elbow-to-elbow, consider a smaller, spongier pancake made from fermented white lentils known as an uttapam. It comes with a thick spread of fragrant curried potatoes. Owner Priya Ammu sought to bring D.C. a taste of the comfort foods she enjoyed as a child when she opened DC Dosa.

Chicken and Beef Sausage Gumbo at Puddin’ ($13.20 for a large)

Use your nose to guide you to the market’s taste of Louisiana—Puddin’. Best known for their namesake brown butter bourbon bread pudding, don’t miss owner Toyin Alli’s gumbo made with chicken and beef sausage, ground smoked shrimp, okra, rice, and other vegetables. Alli’s mother Ann, who was working the stall, says they use family recipes. Puddin’ also has two food trucks. 

Coconut Noodles with Chicken at Toli Moli ($9) 

Toli Moli is owned by Simone Jacobson, her mother Jocelyn Law-Yone, and Eric Wang. Earlier this year the trio expanded from a falooda stand to a full-blown mini-bodega where they can serve an expanded menu. Fill up on this noodle soup in coconut broth, and don’t be afraid to order the spicy version. In Burma, this dish is called ohno khauk swe and is a family favorite. Jacobson says it’s often believed to be the predecessor to the Thai noodle dish, khao soi, not the other way around.

Boozy Ice Cream Soda at Buffalo & Bergen ($13–$14)

Adult milkshake fans can choose to either build their own boozy ice cream soda at Gina Chersevani’s vintage-looking bagel shop and soda fountain, or they can order the “Kuroi Niji” cocktail off the menu. It’s made with Maker’s Mark 46, chocolate soda, Moorenko’s Swiss chocolate ice cream, espresso whipped cream, and sprinkles. Chersevani also owns Suburbia in the outdoor area of Union Market, where you can order frozen drinks and escape a little.