Union Market has catered to DC’s food-loving hipsters for several years now, and Eastern Market still sells old-school meats and meals. Now several new suburban food halls have opened up, and Maryland and Virginia diners have their own great options for family-friendly dining. Asian food—highlighted at the Spot and the Block—is often a fairly easy sell for cautious young diners; noodles, soups, and rice are universally comforting and hard to resist. The best thing about bringing little ones to a food hall? Nobody will complain if they make a little noise or even need to run around the room a bit.
This charming Asian-themed mini hall sits just to the north of Rockville Town Center. Outdoor seating is available in nice weather; one corner features low tables and floor cushions for kids to crawl and sprawl, while a full bar at the other end of the space lets adults partake. Parents seeking lighter fare will love this outpost of local chain PokiDC, with offerings like salmon or spicy tuna (and even steak or chicken for the raw-fish-averse) atop brown or white rice or greens, with a multitude of toppings and dressings. Cheers Cut serves up all kinds of fried foods, accompanied by rice and steamed vegetables—sure to appeal to the chicken-tenders crowd. The staff at Mian entertain curious onlookers (of all ages) as they hand-pull noodles for ramen and other soups. And you can finish it all of with a sweet bubble tea from Gong Cha or a sculpted ice-cream creation from Alpaca Dessert.
255 N. Washington St. (Rockville, MD)
The Block is NOVA’s own Asian-style space, with sky-blue picnic-style tables and an industrial-chic vibe. Balo Kitchen offers modern-inflected Vietnamese sandwiches like banh mi and French dip, along with chicken nuggets and French toast for the younger, less adventurous crowd. There’s PokeWorks, another chain serving the healthy, satisfying Hawaiian-inspired fish-on-rice-or-salad that’s so trendy right now. Munch ice cream surprises with flavors like Ash and Matcha Oreo…alongside Fruity Pebbles. SnoCream shaved ice gets extra-rich when topped with condensed milk or caramel. And—as at the Spot—Block Bar has a full bar as well as more sophisticated small plates.
4221 John Marr Drive (Annandale, VA)
Quarter Market, in the newly rejuvenated Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, has only a few vendors open as of late March 2019, but they’re a departure from the Asian fare of the Block and the Spot. So far the two savory stalls that have opened—Copa for tapas and Hot Lola’s for fried chicken that’s a mashup of Nashville and Sichan heat—aren’t the easiest sell for fussy young eaters…unless they like their nuggets on the spicy side. But there’s Ice Cream Jubilee to (literally) cool down any cranky customer. And outposts of BarTaco and Timber Pizza are slated to join the lineup with family-friendly tacos and pies.
4238 Wilson Blvd. (Arlington, VA)