Some of DC’s Best Restaurants Are Grocery Stores Now

Want to shop local? Skip the supermarket and patronize a local eatery.

Mola is picking up all your produce needs (and meat and dairy) at Path Valley Farms.

By Austa Somvichian-Clausen

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow, restrictions on everyday activities are growing alongside it. One of the biggest victims? Bars and restaurants, which are now fighting for survival as legislators instruct citizens to shelter in place to prevent further spread of the virus.

While dine-in service is effectively banned, eateries around D.C. are coming up with unique and unprecedented solutions to help provide food for residents and jobs for employees. With many now offering farm-fresh local produce, meal kits and even booze, a number of places the city’s best restaurant are essentially functioning as de facto grocery stores. It doesn’t hurt that many also have options for ready-made meals and sides, taking the guesswork out of dinnertime during an insanely stressful time.

Below, you’ll find an easy-to-use guide on how to support the local dining scene while keeping your pantry stocked for the foreseeable future.

Mola’s picking up produce, meats and dairy from Path Valley Farm. (Mola / Instagram)

Full Markets


Mola
Spanish restaurant Mola in Mt. Pleasant is now offering three different ways to get some food on the table: dinners, market items and groceries. They’re doing weekly pickups for bread from local bakery Bread Furst, and produce, meats and dairy from Path Valley Farm. Their “market” is offering ready-to-go prepared foods daily, heat-and-eat meals like picadillo chicken soup or spicy Andalusian cabbage, as well as wine, baked goods and pantry staples.

Big Bear Cafe 
While you can’t stay and eat at Big Bear, the Bloomingdale cafe with arguably the most aesthetically pleasing leafy patio, DC residents are still allowed to leave their homes for essential food. Get your motion in for the day on your way there to pick up local market and pantry items including eggs, milk, butter, Reid’s Orchard apples and canned peaches, pasta, coffee beans from Ceremony and more. For those who cannot leave their homes, Big Bear delivers as well.

Coconut Club 
This island-inspired restaurant by four-time Chopped champion chef Adam Greenberg is now a part-time community grocer. Be sure to order at least 24 hours in advance for delivery or pickup at their Union Market location Wednesday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. The pantry necessities on offer include beans, pasta, nuts, rice, bread, eggs, butter and vegetables. Gloves and bags are available for purchase, as well as ready-made entrees such as spicy coconut chicken or easy sides like peel-and-eat shrimp and salmon poke. Those looking to surprise their family with a fancy quarantine feast can also order a New England Lobster Roll Feast for $130.

Build your own ramen bowl with Ramen by Uzu’s fix-ins kit. (Union Market)

DIY Grocery Meal Kits and Ready-Made Items


Emilie’s 
Chef Kevin Tien and his team at the communally-focused Emilie’s hasn’t just been whipping up Vietnamese comfort food like Banh Mis, rice bowls and chef’s famous spicy chicken sandwiches — they’re also operating a to-go pantry. Everything is available for both pickup and delivery, from fresh pasta and bread to spreads, dips, sweet treats, cheese and heavily discounted wine.

Ivy City Smokehouse
Good news: your go-to for all things seafood is still serving all its signature to-go dishes, like addictive salmon candy and smoked whitefish salad. On the heavier side, they’ve got orders of smoked chicken wings that can feed a family, and you can also treat yourself to some ready-to-make Maryland crab cakes. For home cooks, be sure to check out their selection of fresh seafood.

Republic Cantina 
Tex-Mex lovers will be happy to know that this Truxton Circle cafe is now offering ready-made dishes like chilaquiles and breakfast items like chorizo, egg tacos and cinnamon rolls. Pantry items can be ordered too, like packs of par-cooked flour tortillas that customers can quickly finish up at home, black beans, refried beans, rice and habanero hot sauce.

Ramen by Uzu
No customers are currently allowed inside Union Market, but there are still plenty of ways to order food from your favorite vendors. One of them, Ramen by Uzu, is now offering a dinnertime option that will also serve as a fun evening activity: a selection of fix-ins (fresh noodles, broth, and garnishes) at Hana Market in Adams Morgan. The ramen joint also just joined UberEats for the first time, where you can order shoyu or miso ramen, or even uncooked fresh vegan ramen noodles. 

Napoli Pasta Bar has partnered with Huntsman Specialty Game so residents can stay stocked on fresh meat. (Huntsman Specialty Game)

Fresh Cuts


Napoli Pasta Bar
This neighborhood favorite fresh pasta bar in Columbia Heights has partnered with Huntsman Specialty Game so that local residents can stock up on fresh meat without having to brave crowded stores with sometimes empty shelves. They’re offering box options with different meat selections that you can browse on Huntsman Speciality’s website (think Amish chicken, duck and even foie gras); once you know what you want, order directly through Napoli Pasta Bar for pickup twice weekly. 

RARE Steakhouse & Tavern
This Wisconsin-based steakhouse is giving customers full access to their dry-aging room, which means freshly butchered-in-house strips, ribeyes, chops and other grass-fed beef from Virginia, all available for pickup or delivery. Each order comes with a 25-percent discount from the menu price and includes kosher salt, black pepper, beef butter and jus sauce. 

Jack Rose Dining Saloon is selling single pours of already open bottles in to-go containers. (Jack Rose Dining Saloon)

Booze


The Alibi
Out of toilet paper? Might be time to order some booze — from the “Free Toilet Paper Menu” on this British Pub’s website. They’re now offering everything from family-sized meal kits to liquor, beer, wine, pantry staples, Amish bacon by the pound and Roseda Farms steaks, and all orders of $25 or more come with a free roll of toilet paper. DC drop-off locations are also eligible for free delivery.

Jack Rose Dining Saloon
In case you haven’t heard, this Adams Morgan whiskey haven is selling off one hundred percent of its nearly 3,000-bottle booze collection to help keep its staff employed. Their first weekend of sales saw a (carefully spaced) line snake down the block, but they still have plenty of their stock left — including exclusive single-barrel pours and aged bottles of Macallan at a 50 percent discount.

Izakaya Seki
If this tiny Japanese spot’s tasty-looking new bento boxes aren’t enough to attract you, maybe their collaboration with natural wine bar Domestique will. Those who just want a bento box can stop in for one between 3 and 6 p.m., but if you order some vino from Domestique by 2 p.m., you’ll get the $10.95 box with a wine pairing that same night. Order more than $75 total and you’ll also receive free delivery.