Union Market: DC’s Best Date Under $50

Summer is one of the most romantic times of the year. I love going on fun summer dates and exploring new places with my boyfriend. This past weekend while I was visiting him in DC, we discovered a new jaunt that is an amazing find for locals and tourists alike—Union Market!

Union Market is a 40-vendor food hall in Northwest DC. The area was historically home to an outdoor food market but was renovated recently, opening in 2017. The building itself takes up an entire city block and features prominent signage, outdoor seating and convenient parking.

On Fridays this summer, the market is hosting drive-in movies—the perfect way to experience a new DC hot spot while enjoying a piece of Americana.

Films are projected onto the side of the food hall during drive-in movie nights.

When Ben and I arrived to Union Market, we parked his truck outside in the spacious lot. Tickets for the movie series are priced at $10 a car, which is reasonable especially considering it includes parking and admission for everyone in the car. Moviegoers can also come on foot and watch the movie for free, which is really unheard of.

Once we got inside, we discovered a slew of delicious gourmet food and beverages. On the particular night we were there not all the stalls were open—notably South Block whose acai bowls we had been craving—but we still discovered plenty of delicious options. Ben opted for a barbeque sandwich with two sides from Sloppy Mamas ($18) while I opted for a bowl of pappardelle with vodka sauce from Cucina Al Volo. The bowl was absolutely massive and for $12, I thought it was somewhat inflated but ultimately reasonable pricing given the clear quality of the product.

Pictured: pasta from Cucina Al Volo, empanadas from DC Empanadas and barbecue from Sloppy Mama.

We enjoyed some insanely delicious empanadas from DC Empanadas which were reasonably priced at $3.50 a pop. All told, we spent just over $35 for our food. We decided to bring our own drinks in the car with some strawberries, chips and guacamole. Next time, I think we would approach the food as tapas and bring some more of our own. There were so many good options that I wanted to try more! I would love to see some of the stalls incorporate more options in terms of size to allow folks to try more of the delicious offerings.

The movie itself was really the highlight of our evening. Drive in movies are increasingly rare these days, so it was a big treat! We dialed into the radio station which played the sound through the speakers in the car and enjoyed Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.

All in all, this was one of my favorite date nights ever. Under 50 dollars for dinner and a movie these days is almost unheard of, and the experience itself was worth much more than that.

In the future, Ben and I will definitely return to Union Market. If you’re interested in their drive-in movie series, you can find information on their website here.

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