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“Advice on local-ish food gifts”

by Prince Of Petworth May 31, 2017 at 1:45 pm 95 Comments

Harper Macaw Chocolate Factory – 3160 Bladensburg Road, NE

“Dear PoPville,

I am visiting family in California soon for my aunt’s 70th birthday. Was thinking about bringing DC/MD/VA area food-related gifts because I know she would love that.

So far from Googling other forums and blogs I’ve come up with Langdon Wood’s bourbon maple syrups, Velatis’ salted caramel, Old Bay seasoning, spicy plum chutney from VA Chutney CO. and Hazel’s Fire Panda hot sauce.

Would love ideas on anything else that would be nice and easy to carry to the west coast.

Btw, I haven’t personally tried any of the list myself yet so they could be awful choices; feel free to let me know. Thanks!”

  • KLK

    Capitol Candy Jar

  • VarnumGuy

    Gordy’s Pickles and Chups ketchups are both DC made.

    • samanda_bynes

      ahhh came here to say literally the same thing! Uhh…Qualia coffee is always good, or Green Hat/Ivy City distillery if she’s a drinker.

      • bean

        Qualia coffee is my go to gift for out of towners. Plus it makes your suitcase smell amazing.

  • F ST NE

    Nothing says DC better than Mumbo Sauce…..

  • anon29

    A bushel of crabs.

  • Anon

    Glen’s Garden Market can help you, they carry tons of local items.

  • kapitolhill

    6 pack of DMV beer
    Union Kitchen Grocery vendors?
    Swamp water (will help drain it faster)
    Mumbo sauce

  • KJ

    As part of my Father’s Christmas gift I got him a collection of the Langdon Woods barrel aged maple syrups. They are made locally and really tasty/unique.

  • Truxton Thomas

    You could browse Glen’s or Union Kitchen, though that’s by no means exclusively from D.C. How about a bag (or tin) from one of the local coffee joints? Curious to see what others suggest—good question.

  • cookie monster

    Berger Cookies! They’re from a bakery in Baltimore. They are sold in the bakery section of some Giant’s (I usually get them at the Giant in Silver Spring on E/W Highway).

    • Ross

      Second this!

    • Elvis’s Mom

      Yes! They’re delicious and also available at Giant at O Street Market!

  • Hookdntx

    Green Hat Gin if she is a drinker, Hubs peanuts, Local honey, Utz Crab Chips (I think they are limited in distrobution), Righteous Cheeses, or check out Salt and Sundry at union market, they have alot of local things.

    • Truxton Thomas

      S&S also has its own storefront on 14th Street.

    • Anonymous

      Seconding Green Hat and Utz Crab Chips. Also KRON chocolates mentioned below. You can buy a small bag or even just a few individual pieces of their solid chocolates and they’re quite reasonable. I occasionally give them as small gifts and they’re always a hit. I might be in the minority and really dislike Berger cookies. I love sweets but the chocolate topping was way too sugary and I had to peel most of it off so I didn’t feel like I was giving myself instant diabetes.

      • Bobert

        I’m definitely with you on Berger cookies – way, waaaay too sweet for me.

      • MadMax

        Route 11 crab chips mmmmm

  • Linc Park SE

    The chocolat shop at EM – also Sat/Sun outdoor market has tons of food stuffs of Hill’s Kitchen carries some local goods

    • anon

      +1 – J. Chocolatier, open weekends above Groovy Cards & Gifts.

      • thunder

        one more yes vote

  • MadMax

    Cotton & Reed rum or Jos A. Magnus whiskey for some other booze options.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      I don’t know about Cotton and Reed’s rum, but I am fairly certain that Jos A. Magnus whiskey is not actually from DC (it also happens to be insanely overpriced). I don’t think any of the whiskeys at any of those places (one-eight, republic restoratives, etc.) was distilled here. Green Hat has some actual DC whiskey coming out in the next couple years, I think.

      • Whiskey_anon

        Jos. A Magnus is just bottled in DC, not distilled here. Overpriced rip-off.

        • caphill324

          It is currently just finished because it takes a long time to age whiskey. But they distill on site.

      • MadMax

        Interesting, didn’t know that about J.A.M. I remember the Green Hat folks showing us the barrels they were using for whiskey a few years back, surprised they haven’t released a test batch yet.

        • Tsar of Truxton

          I would think (though I don’t know) that J.A.M. and the others will eventually have their own whiskey, but it takes so long to age whiskey that most places just buy it while they get started. It would be too expensive to create the distillery and sit and wait for 10 years (or whatever) for the first batch. I was at Green Hat a few months ago and the whiskey still wasn’t ready. I can’t remember when he said it would be released, but it is within the next few years, if I recall.

        • AnonV2

          Because unless you have pre-existing stock to blend it from, making whiskey from scratch takes a really long time. The worst kept secret in the liquor industry is that almost all of the “small batch” bourbon and “boutique” whiskeys that have cropped up in the past few years start with a pre-distilled base produced by a giant food additive corporation in Indiana. The micro-“distilleries” then age that whiskey base product in whatever barrel they want, slap some backstory on it and sell for massive overhead. Buy real bourbon! My understanding is that, yes, the folks at Green Hat are actually attempting to do it correctly and mash in their own spirits. I’m not surprised that it’s not ready yet, though.

    • Ally

      I second Cotton & Reed. They have a really nice gift basket you can buy (also you can buy a single bottle with a nice cotton gift bag). We bought a couple of the baskets for Christmas gifts last year.

  • JacquesOfAllTrades

    Langdon Wood syrup is good. Also, Snake Oil hot sauce (by Woodbury Kitchen in Baltimore), and a little further afield but local-ish — Big Spoon Roasters nut butters, out of Durham, NC. Thumbs up on Green Hat as well.

  • anon

    Go to some questionable Chinese carryout and get some mambo sauce……

    • ET

      I just noticed yesterday that the chicken vendor at Eastern Market sells some……

  • PetlessInPetworth

    KRON Chocolatier in Friendship Heights makes all their own chocolates – they make AMAZING truffles.

  • local_mountie

    I’ve never gone wrong with an assortment of Berger cookies and Otterbein cookies. Both are delicious and hard to find elsewhere!

    • Anonymous

      I’ve never heard of Otterbein. Do you have any favorites? I’m going to keep an eye out for them since it seems like a lot of places around here carry them. Thanks!

      • Betsy

        Rodman’s, source of all things wonderful, carries both Otterbein’s and Berger cookies. Plus Firehook crackers, which are awesome with some Firefly goat cheese (made in VA, sold at farmer’s markets and WFoods) and Gordie’s Hot Pepper Relish.

      • Rich

        Giant at van ness and 8th & O, among other places) sells Otterbein’s which are a bit like Tate’s in consistency. Berger’s are very heavy and despite my love of non-chi-chi baked goods, I thought they were awful.

  • Ben

    Get some locally roasted coffee as well. Can never go wrong with Qualia…

  • kallie

    I’m not sure if I would consider this a local DC food, but it’s certainly a great local store: Chocolate Chocolate.

    • jumpingjack

      Their chocolate almond bark is amazing.

    • Nose-in-a-Book

      +100 They carry Capitol Bldg. and Washington Monument- shaped chocolates! Located on Connecticut Ave. NW between L & M.

  • ChenChen

    Thanks everyone! great suggestions, my aunt will be really happy :)

  • Hill Denizen

    I love Chili Bears from Number 1 Sons. Bunch of different flavors of fermented hot sauces in cute little honey bear bottles. They’re perfect for taking on planes since they’re under 3 ounces, and they sell them at farmers markets all over the city.

  • Anonymous

    Last year I went to Glen’s and loaded up on $100+ worth of DC Brau, Port City, Compass Coffee, and Harper Macaw for my family at Christmas and they loved everything. Harper Macaw chocolate is a great gift and travels well (as long as your luggage doesn’t sit on a hot tarmac).

  • anonymouse_dianne

    You cannot go wrong with Velatis’. They make two types of caramel, the traditional chewy and a crumbly type which I fell in love with when I was in braces and couldn’t do the chewy kind.

  • Ross

    MD: Fisher’s Popcorn, Utz or Herrs Chips (particularly the crab chips – an easy way to do the ‘crab cake’ localness. Pro-tip: Herrs is better because it uses the name-brand Old Bay). Will also re-iterate Berger Cookies.
    VA: Peanuts (Harris Teeter in AdMo seems to sell a fancy brand of VA peanuts in an end of the aisle display by the freezer section), country ham.
    DC: Sweet Potato Pie from Henry’s Soul Cafe

  • Ben

    Bring her a half-smoke.

  • Anonymous

    If you can’t get to the independent shops, I know the Whole Foods in the area were really pushing Union Kitchen and other local products a while back. I think they still tag local items so they’re easy to find on shelves or throughout the store.

    • anon

      Mom’s Organic Market and Harris Teeter do the same. They all have local sections.

    • ChenChen

      very helpful, thank you

    • MadMax

      Yeah the new Whole Foods on H Street has like 10 different DC coffee roaster options in bags.

      • MadMax

        Oh also cookies from Whisked! by the checkout, so good.

  • SP

    Don Ciccio & Figli makes some wonderful, local amaros, and a great limoncello – right on Kansas Avenue. http://donciccioefigli.com/new-page-77/

    • saf

      Their stuff is very tasty.

  • anon

    You could get cider (the authentic alcoholic kind, not Woodchuck) from ANXO. They sell it at Whole Foods in the District.

    • saf

      You can also get it at the cider on Kennedy Street or at the Pixtos bar on Florida.

  • Jade

    Whisked cookies are the best!

    • Truxton Thomas

      Those Nutella cookies…

    • Anon

      Ditto Whisked! I was surprised they didn’t come up earlier. I brought the mixed pack and some chocolate chips to some friends out of town over MDW and they were a big hit. Also my dad asks for that Langdon Syrup from Glen’s every birthday, Christmas, etc.

  • That One Guy

    Michele’s granola.

    • Crunchy

      Michele’s granola should come with a warning label, it’s so friggin’ addictive.

    • saf

      Where do you get that? I love granola.

      • Crunchy

        The usual places – MOMs, Whole Foods, and a bunch of other markets in the region.

    • Gumball

      omg! I haven’t had that in a while! I LOOOVE Michele’s Granola! Pure crunchy crack, I tell ya!

  • liz

    The chocolate factory next to dc brau (pictured) has great chocolate, and number 1 sons pickles are amazing. There is also the local dc popcorn guy- if you go to any of the farmers markets there is also cheese/bread and jam vendors.

  • idontgetit

    Glen’s Garden Market is 95% locally sourced item so an easy stroll through the store should offer you many options. I always though they should have gift baskets but sadly they don’t.

    • Anonther

      I put together a DC foods gift basket* at Glen’s. Not all would be great options for lugging out to CA (Capital Kombucha, Gordy’s pickles), but I was easily able to get 8-10 items from different companies, could have added more if my budget had been larger, and I didn’t include any booze or beer.
      * by “basket” I mean a paper bag, we are not fancy people.

  • TasteLab


    Our new marketplace at Union Market carries over 140 products that are made in our culinary incubator/commercial kitchen in NE called TasteLab! The marketplace at Union Market is open 10a-7p, T-Sun.

    We have over eighty small businesses operating at TasteLab and the marketplace carries a little bit of everything – tea blends, spice rubs & marinades, hot sauces, beef jerky, root beer, fresh pressed juices, gluten free cookies, salad dressings, local hydroponic mixed greens, soups, roasted nuts, hummus, dips, dippers, dog biscuits, and so much more! Some of the products listed in the comments are made at TasteLab and can be found at the marketplace too (Langdon Wood Syrups (and hot sauces)), Chocotenango Chocolates, etc.

    Happy shopping and thanks for supporting local food entrepreneurs!

    • ChenChen

      +1 !!!

  • dcgirl

    Virginia Diner Peanuts!

  • Nose-in-a-Book

    Depending on how long your traveling will take, you could get a dozen (or more) cookies from Captain Cookie either from the truck or the brick-and-mortar store.

  • Scott

    Great thread, thanks all. A few other ideas:

    -Uncle Brotha’s Hot sauce: https://www.unclebrutha.com/

    -Salted Oat cookies from Teaism. The cookies are a little cheat since the baker doesn’t live in DC anymore, but they were created here and continue to be made in DC: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/12/AR2007061200388.html

    -Seconding the idea of liquor from Don Ciccio y Figli, people have really enjoyed getting these as gifts. The aperitifs can be a little strong unless you know people like those flavors, but more accessible varieties include the limoncello, nocino (walnut), and Fico d’India (prickly pear).

  • Douglas Singer

    Chocotenango for the best choc you will try.
    Singer’s Significant Meats (cheap plug) for the best corned beef and pastrami

  • Elvis’s Mom

    Oh! Macarons from The Sweet Lobby in Eastern Market…

  • Livg

    Oh Mercy hot sauce made in Falls Church is excellent. If you can take the heat, go No Mercy! http://ohmercyhotsauce.com

  • Rich

    Some really awful suggestions. Utz is very inconsistent with their chips–they can’t seem to spray the flavorings on very uniformly. An aunt in California will do so much better there with microbrews, etc., as well as wine. And if she’s an old school drinker the “artisan gins” and local whiskeys will just seem revolting. Ditto the coffee. Maple syrup is something you get from New England, not here.

    Old Bay spice, by itself would be fun. Otterbein cookies (although they’re a little delicate). My sister in California loved Blondies which are not DC specific but more of a thing here than most places. Stay away from stuff in bottles, unless they’re small. They’ll just break. Microbrews, etc. will be impractical for this reason, as well as not great. Kron isn’t local, but you might see what Chocolate Moose on L Street has. If they weren’t so impractical to pack, Georgetown cupcakes would be fun, despite the story of people lining up for them being better than the cupcakes themselves–the Bethesda store never has a line.

    • anon

      Yet another positive comment from Rich! Not.

    • Anon

      Besides Otterbein, your suggestions boil down to blondies and cupcakes (Georgetown cupcakes at that). Seriously?

    • eggs

      Clearly you haven’t mastered the art of flying with beer, I’ve never had a bottle break on me. Also, cans and crowlers work very well for this sort of thing. I very much disagree that CA can “do so much better…with microbrews” – have you been paying attention to some of the amazing breweries we have within an hour or two drive of us that are getting national attention? Aslin and The Veil for NE IPAs come to mind, that’s not a style that’s common in CA (yet).

  • Salty

    75 comments and NO ONE has said the Salty Oat cookies from Teaism? What is happening in this world?

    Salty oat cookies are the best things ever and everyone who tries one is obsessed, the end.

    • Bruce

      Scott mentioned them at 4:57, about four hours before your post. He even included a link.

      • textdoc

        It’s possible that Scott’s post might not have appeared until after Salty’s — posts with links have to be approved by the Prince before they can appear. IIRC, timestamps are retroactive to the time of original posting, not to the time of princely approval.

  • CapHill

    Might be hard to get these to your destination, but We love the Mason Dixie frozen biscuits. Whole Foods has them.

  • Mickey’s BFF

    Republic Restoratives in Ivy City has Rodham Rye in a cool bottle.

  • JH

    The syrups are DELISHOUS we get a whole set of them every Small Business Saturday at DC Brau when the syrup guy has a booth there but you can also order online. I do a ham, bake with them – made some infused liquor with another. Not just for pancakes! And the Macaw chocolate is great with really fancy pretty wrapping that is perfect for gifting.

  • OffTheAvenue

    Mumbo sauce and Velatis are my favorites. But why OH WHYYYYYY did you have to mention Velatis??? It’s walking distance from me and now I am absolutely craving some of their candies.

  • caphill324

    Lyon Distilling Co. makes amazingly delicious rums and other spirits in St. Michaels. It is sold in a number of local stores. Other local favorites – Ivy City Smokehouse lox, Harper Macaw chocolates, Cotton & Reed rums, Baked by Yael cakepops.

  • Thanks for the insta-shout out for our maple syrup, hot sauce, and honey!

    We also highly recommend Jerkface beef jerky, and anything else at the Tastelab popup at Union Market! https://tastelab.co/marketplace/

    And… must give a shout out to the local brewers like DC Brau, Three Stars, and Blue Jacket!


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