Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
The District was once home to a handful of neighborhood market halls. These days, Eastern Market is the only one left. But for all of its charms, the Capitol Hill landmark is nowhere as vibrant as the Capital City Market, the complex of low-slung (and sometimes odorous) buildings sometimes called the Florida Avenue Market that serves as the city’s living and breathing wholesalers’ market. Need bulk restaurant supplies? There’s a store for that. How about a big slab of meat for a barbecue? Check. West African spices? There’s a vendor for that. This isn’t a tourist hot spot, but a gritty, working marketplace. So watch your step making your way through the crowded complex of buildings, some housed in former World War I-era barracks. Bring cash as many places don’t take plastic. If the sights and smells inside the D.C. Farmers Market, where vendors sell everything from turkey necks to diabetic socks, are too much of a feast for the senses, a sandwich at the A. Litteri Italian store might be better food for thought. Just visit the place before the future catches up with the market complex, which sits on some valuable, Metro-accessible real estate.