December 1, 2023 | A large Latin market lands at Union Market (WTOP's Rachel Nania)
WASHINGTON — Hold on to your forks: Things are about to get a whole lot tastier at Union Market.
The Northeast D.C. district is adding a 20,000-square-foot Latin market, designed and curated by celebrity chef Jose Garces.
“Latin food has been a part of my fabric for my whole life,” Garces said at the market’s groundbreaking ceremony on June 13, where he was joined by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Now, he wants to weave the choice cuisine into the lives of Washingtonians.
With the yet-to-be-named market at 1270 4th St. NE — just one block from Union Market’s main food hall — Garces hopes to create “a dynamic culinary center … celebrating the richness and diversity of Latin cuisine and culture.”
Garces says he’s drawing inspiration from other famous Latin markets, such as La Boqueria in Barcelona and the famous fish markets of Lima. His concept will carry top-quality Latin products and showcase ready-to-eat foods.
“It could be anything from a great taqueria, a ceviche bar, an empanada stand, as well as great wines, cheeses that are curated by myself, personally,” said Garces, who spoke on D.C.’s growing Hispanic population as another reason for launching a Latin-focused market.
Similar to Union Market, a 25,000-square-foot space that is home to 40 regional and international food vendors, Garces plans to use his market as a place to promote emerging food businesses.
“I’m looking to add to the beauty of what has become a really rich dining destination, here in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
Garces’ market is part of a larger project from the real estate development company Edens, which owns several lots in the area that was once the city’s go-to destination for food, but in recent decades has been neglected. The Latin market will anchor an 11-story mixed-use building comprised of 400 residential units and 30,000 square feet of retail.
This is not the Philadelphia-based chef’s first project in the nation’s capital. Two years ago, Garces opened the Argentine steakhouse Rural Society; this year he is bringing his bourbon bar Village Whiskey to Shaw’s Blagden Alley.
“It feels like D.C. has had a really nice renaissance of great chefs that are opening, so to be a part of that feels really good,” said Garces, a James Beard award-winning chef who owns and operates more than a dozen restaurants across the country. Garces is also one of eight chefs to hold the prestigious title of Iron Chef.
Union Market opened in 2012. Since then, the independent movie theater Angelika Pop-Up, Dolcezza’s gelato factory, Lab 1270 and the upscale Italian restaurant Masseria have opened within blocks of the main market.