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In just a few D.C. blocks you can gather all the international ingredients you’ll need to prepare a meal that will wow your friends. Pandemic pivots and the opening of a food-focused bookstore have helped make Mount Pleasant a fun place for novice and expert home cooks to shop. So too have the long-standing, immigrant-owned markets and a thriving Saturday farmers market. Take a tour of where to shop and what to buy:
Bold Fork Books
3064 Mount Pleasant St. NW, boldforkbooks.com
D.C.’s culinary bookstore is approaching its one year anniversary. Whether you want to try making Japanese ramen or Russian pelmeni, you will find a beautiful book to walk you through it at Bold Fork Books. Owner Clementine Thomas told City Paper last year that many of the home cooks coming through were picking up books focused on the fundamentals. Most everyone became more familiar with their kitchens when going out to eat wasn’t an option.
After you buy a book, chances are you’ll be able to find the ingredients without veering off Mount Pleasant Street NW. That’s partially why Thomas picked the neighborhood for her venture. “We feel beyond lucky to be a part of the Mount Pleasant community alongside so many other inspiring, independently owned food businesses,” she says. “It’s not unusual to have a guest walk into Bold Fork Books weighed down with produce from the farmer’s market and bags from one or more of the neighborhood’s grocers looking for a cookbook to bring it all together in time for dinner.”
Thomas also appreciates the retail mix: “It’s a dream to be a part of such a diverse ecosystem where older businesses are still thriving alongside newcomers. Home cooks really can find most everything they need within the span of just a few blocks.”
Bold Fork Books is open Mondays from noon to 8 p.m., Wednesdays through Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Nido Wine Shop & Market
3155 Mount Pleasant St. NW, (202) 849-3247, nido-market-at-mola.shoplightspeed.com
One avenue restaurateurs are taking to pandemic-proof their businesses is reconceptualizing them as markets. Erin Lingle tried it out and liked the results so much she just committed to serving D.C.’s gourmands in a more permanent capacity with the help of two heavy hitting hospitality partners—Morgan Stana and Thea Merl. What was once Mola, a Spanish restaurant, is now Nido Wine Shop & Market. The name is repurposed from Lingle’s former business in Woodridge.
Home cooks can fill their baskets with stock and rice to make paella, dried fava beans, tinned fish at multiple price points sourced directly from Portugal, frozen salt cod and sachets of cuttlefish ink, labne, specialty spices like smoked paprika, and an Italian butter from Parma made from the liquid leftover from making parmigiano reggiano.
Lingle has filled one bar tap with olive oil and another with sherry vinegar as a fun touch. If you want to put out a spread before a meal there’s an array of cheese, charcuterie, and accoutrements.
Merl stocked the shelves with wines from the Mediterranean. And not just Spain, France, and Italy. Try bottles from Tunisia, Croatia, Egypt, and Morocco as well. Wines sourced from closer to home were sought out because they’re made by women winemakers or are natural or biodynamic.
“Everything we put in here, we truly love,” Lingle says. “It’s always been super fun to be in this neighborhood, but with the cookbook store and Each Peach and all of these places, we all come in to see each other all the time. It’s a symbiotic relationship.”
The shop is open Tuesdays through Fridays from noon to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Purple Patch Pantry
3155 Mount Pleasant St. NW, (202) 299-0022, purplepatchdc.com
Purple Patch owner Patrice Cleary reconfigured her three-floor establishment immediately next door to Nido during the pandemic. While the Filipino restaurant still welcomes diners for daily brunch and dinner, the top floor became a small market and take-out counter with frozen cocktails. Cleary calls it Purple Patch Pantry.
Be sure to bend down and inspect all of the shelves, where there are some cool finds like whiskey barrel-aged fish sauce, Sauce City’s Mambo No. 1, and sweet tamarind. You can also purchase spirits like Kasama, a small batch rum from the Philippines, and calamansi juice to incorporate into marinades, cocktails, desserts, and salad dressings. The pantry is also the spot for all things ube (purple yam), including sweets from Gwenie’s Bakery.
Last fall Cleary and her partner Bill Williamson built out the basement of Purple Patch into a butcher shop. It’s no longer operating in its full capacity, but Cleary says you can still order items online and pick them up at the restaurant.
“If you don’t know about Mount Pleasant, once you come here you’ll feel like it’s your secret, your little oasis, and then you invite your friends to it,” Cleary says.
Purple Patch Pantry is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again from 4 to 9 p.m.
Each Peach Market
3068 Mount Pleasant St. NW, (202) 525-1725, eachpeachmarket.com
Co-owner Emily Friedberg is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Each Peach’s custom olive oil that is on its way from a woman-owned manufacturer and importer from Tunisia. She expects it to arrive in time for the holidays. The small grocer is a perfect place to shop for gifts for the epicureans in your life. Scan the shelves to find finishing ingredients that make ordinary meals memorable like Kewpie mayonnaise, Mike’s Hot Honey, chili crisp, furikake, and za’atar.
Friedberg is proud of the tinned spice mixes they recently got in and notes that Each Peach is reinvesting in its dried fruit selection. “There’s a much larger range of prunes, figs, and apricots in addition to our dried peaches, which people really love,” she says.
In July, Each Peach highlighted French food and products. It was such a smash hit that they’ll be taking a similar approach to October, but with Italy as the culinary muse. Think dried porcini mushrooms.
Peruse the refrigerators and freezers, too. That’s where you’ll encounter local ferments, farro miso from Keepwell Vinegar, smoked seafood, duck and chicken from D’Artagnan Foods, sausages from Stachowski’s, and a robust cheese selection.
Other than the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market held each Saturday, Each Peach is where you’ll find the best produce in the neighborhood. It’s displayed attractively, seasonally focused, and sourced responsibly.
Because Each Peach Market and Bold Fork Books are physically connected, Friedberg and Thomas are in regular communication and collaborate on events. “We’re very close and are invested in each other’s success,” Friedberg says. “It’s a very congenial neighborhood and we all get along and want to help each other as much as we can. The more Mount Pleasant can become a destination, the better it is for all of us.”
Each Peach Market is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
El Progreso Market
3158 Mount Pleasant St. NW, (202) 462-1151
If you have a recipe that calls for avocado or you simply subsist on fancy toast, visit El Progreso. Avocados there are treated like the special commodity that they are. They’re stacked in a symmetrical mound behind a plexiglass-encased check-out counter. When it’s your turn at the register, tell an employee how many avocados you would like. They will then inquire whether you’re looking to eat them today or tomorrow before using their skillful hands to find an appropriately ripe one.
The market also has a butcher shop in the back where workers deftly use a saw to make custom cuts like flanken ribs for Korean barbecue. Given El Progresso is a Latin market, you can also peruse a wide selection of beans, hot sauce, spices, tamale wrappers, and tortillas.
El Progreso Market is open Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
3178 Mount Pleasant St. NW, (202) 265-3768
This immigrant-owned market, which famously hosted a punk show to raise money to ensure its survival in 2018, is crammed with goodies. Head here if you’re in search of a particular pepper. The produce section is a rainbow of reasonably priced poblanos, serranos, Thai chilis, Jamaican peppers, and banana peppers.
BestWorld is also a good stop for queso fresco, chorizo, and Orale-brand spices and ingredients like arnica flower, annatto paste, guava leaves, and eucalyptus. If you’re in search of jarred and bottled Asian condiments, sauces, and marinades, those too can be found at BestWorld.
BestWorld is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.