Judging Restaurants – Adams Morgan Food Tents

I recently heard someone raving about the food tents found on Columbia Road, NW in the little triangle park a block east of 18th St. So what’s the word here – are the empanadas the must order item or is there something that shouldn’t be missed? Is one tent better than the others? How are the prices?

24 Comment

  • The food is glorious at nearly every tent and most of the meals cost between $7-10. The food is fresh and they give generous portions to say the least. The atmosphere is great because each vendor is trying to outsell the person next to him, so there is a competitive banter.

    The best tent is the guy who serves Puerto Rican food. His tent is in the southeast corner of the park. The pork dish he serves is out of this world good, not to mention the stuffed peppers and rice. Food from other tents that I’ve tried has been wonderful, including fresh avocado and tomato salads, various burritos, and simple rice and bean dishes.

    I’m there nearly every Saturday and this ends up being my lunch and dinner most days.

  • I ate here once and it was amazing. There are a bunch of different countries represented. It is all really cheap too. Cash only, obviously. The homemade juices are really good, too.

  • i love street food. this is awesome. more please. please do this in columbia heights – i will be there every night! !dame comida calle!

  • I’m not really into the Salvadorian fare, but I do frequent and very much enjoy the Puerto Rican food booth.

    There’s Pernil al Horno (Roast Pork Shoulder) served with Arroz con Gandules (Rice and Pigeon Peas), Mofongo (Mashed Plantains with Bacon), and salad with a slice of Avocado. It’s savory and very good.

    The Puerto Rican booth is on the Champlain Street side and southernmost.

    You can just make out part of the Puerto Rican flag on the mid left part of the picture above.

    I hope the guy there gets the opportunity to open a Puerto Rican restaurant as we haven’t any that I know of in Washington.

    Since they started these weekend food tents this Triangle Unity Park, I think it’s called, has never been cleaner.

    I hope they get to stay. I think there’s enough business for both these weekend food tents and the brick and mortar establishments along Columbia Road and 18th Street.

  • There’s actually been a big, and still ongoing, discussion on this topic on the Adams Morgan listserv.

    The BID wants to the vendors to move other parts of the city three weekends out of four.

    BID believes that these ethnic food vendors are hurting the fast food restaurants.

    Some argue that vendors are part of Adams Morgan, a draw for foot traffic, and keep the neighborhood interesting.

  • our kids frequent this place for the horchata alone. alas, see below:

    “So I normally don’t do this kind of direct appeal, but I’m writing to ask for help to keep the ethnic food vendors that set up at Columbia & Champlain St. on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays. The official location is called Unity Park for those that do not know.

    The Business Improvement District (BID) is pressing for the market to only be with us one week-end each month. They want the market away from Adams Morgan and reduce the threat (perceived or otherwise) to brick & mortar businesses.

    Wednesday night the ANC will be considering a resolution to support and continue this market.

    If at all possible, please come and express your support (or opposition, if that is the case) to having these food vendors stay in Adams Morgan. I believe this program is an asset as it provides a low cost alternative to people that a) do not have the money for a sit down restaurant, and b) like the variety of offerings and c) the convenience of being able to grab something and keep moving.

    the ANC will meet at 7:00 PM at 2355 Ontario Road, NW (Mary’s Center, the pink building).

    I hope you can make the time to come in person and speak to this issue.

    Thank you so much.


  • The Argentine place (pictured) has ok empanadas. They have a spinach pie which is essentially their empanada opened up. They aren’t bad, I just wouldn’t call them spectacular. They have alfajores for a fraction of the cost (and much larger) than the ones sold at Dolcezza but the Dolcezza ones have a better texture (to me). It’s fun to go to though, and I would think it is much better for the neighborhood to have that market atmosphere

  • The Adams Morgan BID is a sad excuse… I know it’s mom & pop, but they don’t seem to be doing a good job branding the neighborhood, encouraging business development, keeping things clean, etc. And now this?

    Time for a change with the BID

  • These food vendors are the only reason I even bother going to AM anymore. If the BID shuts them down, I’ll just stop going to AM altogether.

  • If Adams Morgan won’t have them, let them come to Columbia Heights! I come from a seriously street food culture. I wish we could embrace this more.

  • The Adams Morgan BID is trying to kill this market just like they want to ban any sort of street vending in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.

    What’s Jim Graham’s stance on this?

  • The market is pretty much the best thing or at least one of the best things DC has to offer. Good food, good people, good prices, gets the community out and about, drives foot traffic for other businesses, generates good will, etc. Whites, blacks and latinos use the market together without fighting. I really can’t think of any negatives about the market.

    I hardly think a few burritos and tacos for a few hours on the weekend is making a significant dent in the brick and mortar eateries bottom lines. In fact, I’d wager they drive foot traffic to the bars and other businesses before and after people eat at the market.

    Jim Graham, Bryan Weaver, others, shut the BID up and do the right thing for once. Keep this city liveable for everyone. Please.

  • If people want to save the market, go to the ANC meeting tonight and offer your support.

  • I love the AdamsMorgan weekend market, altogether is a GREAT project, whoever idea this was, congratulations and thank you! It is a great opportunity for the vendors (who used to sell on the streets with no permits and were constantly harassed by the cops) and a gift to us, consumers. I wish the BID stops harassing them and the very few restaurants complaining realize people prefer going to the little market because here you’ll find real and AUTHENTIC ethnic food. I believe the variety of foods offered is great but, I always look out for doña Paty. For the-best tacos and Mexican food in the city go visit her. You cannot miss her beautiful Mexican flag. 2 dlls p/taco, tilapia ceviche tostadas, shrimp cocktail, fresh fruit aguas and the best tamales you’ve ever had. She also makes menudo, pozole and chilaquies!

  • I love their food! I work around there and many places are not open for lunch. It is a nice alernative if you want to eat outside/grab something quick and embrace diversity!

  • The market is wonderful. The vendors are clean and sell quality food at low-cost. We should support these entrepreneurs not harass them out of business. It provides color and urban livability to Adams-Morgan. Save the mercado!

  • tacos tacos tacos. the meat is amazing.

  • The Adams Morgan street market brings a welcome diversity to the cuisine in Washington DC. What better way to show the mosaic of culture, food, and free enterprise than a genuine Latin-American food market. The dishes are not only delicious, they are reasonably priced. Despite the recent downturn in which Washington DC is taking, this is one of the few things that keeps me from moving to Virginia and commuting everyday. I can find farmers markets in any city or small town, but to find local businesses that have a authentic Latin-American food makes this market unique.

  • The commission passed the resolution* with two “friendly” amendments.

    It doesn’t mean the BID will stop verbally attacking the vendors market. In fact, at the meeting the two most vocal anti-vendors market individuals were gaveled down at the meeting after an hour of discussion and the question was called. They both left grumbling. All i can say about that is, Grumpy old men!

    The BID has called stakeholder meetings with the affected parties: the ANC, OLA, 4 businesses on the same block, the Department of Health, the GHCOC (greater hispanic chamber of commerce), and two grumpy old men. The press is there to cover it. Progress is being made. Bringing the parties to agree is not an easy project to take on.

    Next meeting: Offices of the College Summit, 1763 Columbia Road, NW, basement meeting room, Monday, September 20, 5:00 PM

    ANC resolution:

    Resolution Regarding Office of Latino Affairs (OLA) Incubator Microbusiness Program at Unity Park

    Whereas in October of 2008 ANC 1C voted is support of the Office of Latino Affairs establishing an incubator microbusiness program at Unity Park in Adams Morgan; and

    Whereas the District Department of Parks and Recreation has with great foresight and cooperation allowed this program to be established at the location known as Unity Park in Adams Morgan at the intersections of Columbia Road, Euclid Street and Champlain Street; and

    Whereas this program has provided a legal, regulated, sanctioned program for vendors to become productive, compliant, and tax paying small businesses; and

    Whereas this program provides affordable food and crafts of services to those of low income and others; and

    Whereas, OLA is seeking community input to continue this program in FY 2011; and

    Whereas, ANC 1C wishes to take a position on this program:

    Now therefore be it resolved,

    Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C does strongly support and encourage OLA to continue the Incubator Microbusiness Program at Unity Park; and Further Resolved,

    Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C does strongly support and encourage the District Department of Parks and Recreation to continue cooperation with OLA to continue this program by renewing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for FY 2011;

    And Further Resolved, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C does request and advise OLA to adhere and provide assurance of the following:

    1) That proper Department of Health licensing and inspections, including the posting of such licenses are complied with;

    2) Confirmation that vendors benefiting from this program are bone fide, confirmed District of Columbia residents.

    3) Assurance that this is indeed an incubator program and not a permanent subsidy. That participation in this program carries clear objectives and time limitations to vendors with the assurance that other, new people can be given the opportunity of the incubator microbusiness program.
    4) Vendors remove the trash from the park when they leave at night.
    5) Vendors obey parking rules and regulations.

    And Further Resolved.
    Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C congratulates both the District Office of Latino Affairs and the Department of Parks and Recreation for the creation of a program that removes illegal vending operations and provides individuals and opportunity for entrepreneurial individuals to improve their lives while adding to the diversity of the Adams Morgan Community; and Further Resolved

    Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C does recommend to OLA that the success of this program be built on by seeking additional locations in Ward One to expand and establish other new and diverse continuing markets in other communities in Ward One; and be it Finally Resolved

    This Resolution be communicated to the Mayor, the Office of Latino Affairs, DPR and Councilmember Jim Graham as an expression of support by ANC 1C for this program.

    So moved:

    September 1, 2010

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