If you’re going to Eastern Market, you better not miss out on Market Lunch. With an enormous line snaking down the market, it’s immediately apparent that this is the one place that’s worth eating at.
For those of you who aren’t from DC, Eastern Market is a market which sells fresh produce, meat, cheese, fish and more. It’s like St. Lawrence Market or Granville Island but just much smaller in scale. In fact, I was a little surprised by how small the food building is.
In addition to food, the market features a flea market on weekends. I found some pretty neat prints that I would’ve loved to purchase. It just would’ve been a terrible pain to lug them back to Toronto.
Anyway, let’s get back to Market Lunch. If you want to avoid the long wait, I recommend coming on a weekday. When we arrived around 11am on a Saturday, the line was quite sizeable. I don’t even remember how long we waited but it seemed like an eternity as we were tortured by the smell of the dishes coming out of the kitchen.
After you get to the front of the line, you order, pay and wait for your food. There’s a long communal table down the length of their space, so seating isn’t exactly abundant. But people eat quick, so we were surprised by how easily we were able to get a seat.
Their chalkboard menu consists of a selection of seafood sandwiches, seafood platters (crabcakes, whiting, haddock, shrimp, oysters), combos and a selection of breakfast items including pancakes, French toast, eggs bennys, omelets and other egg dishes.
Mike and I decided to share the Oyster & Crabcake Combo ($19.95). All of their combos and platters come with your choice of 2 sides and a fresh roll. Side options include fresh cut fries, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, fresh vegetables, fried green tomatoes and grits. We tried the fried green tomatoes (which were excellent – crispy batter covering juicy tomatoes), coleslaw and potato salad (both solid but nothing to write home about). Oh, we also tried the Green Chili Cheese Grits which were quite enjoyable but I’ve had better.
You really can’t come to Market Lunch without getting one of their crab cakes. They were some of the best we’ve ever had. They were packed full of large crab chunks – definitely no filler here and were lightly battered with a crisp exterior. The crabcakes were wonderfully seasoned and tasted great on their own. So. Damn. Good.
The fried oysters, while not quite as memorable as the crabcake, were delicious. They had a nice crisp batter without being too greasy, and the oysters were nice and plump.
Another dish that Market Lunch is famous for is their Blue Bucks pancakes. We were thinking of getting an order of them but were swayed otherwise when we saw the Crabcake Benedict ($12.95). It came with one large crabcake so as you can tell, the portions aren’t exactly huge here. The benny was covered in a rich and tasty hollandaise sauce which I ate every bit of (had to make use of that roll that came with our seafood combo!).
So, are you convinced yet? I’m telling you, a visit to Eastern Market just isn’t complete without a visit to Market Lunch!
At a glance:
• Located in the south hall of Eastern Market (in Capitol Hill)
• Specializing in fried seafood
• Known for their amazing crabcakes and blue bucks (pancakes)
• Open everyday for breakfast and lunch except Mondays
• Cash only
• Limited seating – only a long communal table
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: N/A
• Atmosphere: 3 stars