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Immigrant Food Brings Its Brand of Fast-Casual Fusion Into Union Market

The “gastroadvocacy” restaurant adds a pastrami panini at its new Northeast outpost

The Europanini ($14) stacks Prime angus pastrami, caramelized onions, melted Swiss, mushroom, and truffle dressing.
Immigrant Food/official photo
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Immigrant Food, the “gastroadvocacy” restaurant near the White House that serves fast-casual global fusion bowls, opens a stall inside Union Market today (Wednesday, May 12) that introduces new snacks and sandwiches.

Chef Enrique Limardo (Seven Reasons, Imperfecto) and business partner Peter Schechter have a centrally located spot near Lucky Buns. A pared-down list of four bowls and salads features top sellers like an Indian-Mexican Mumbai Mariachi — a fiery mix of spiced steak and smokey Chipotle dressing. One newcomer is a Europanini, a sandwich piled high with Prime angus pastrami, caramelized onions, melted Swiss, mushroom, and truffle dressing. Snacks include Belgian fries with homemade aioli, cauliflower nuggets, Indian samosas, and churros with Ecuadorian chocolate.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday and until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining outside the sprawling food hall (1309 5th Street NE).

The original location debuted in November 2019 at 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. A second outpost will continue to promote the brand’s NGO partners.

Crispy-battered cauliflower florets are a riff on chicken nuggets.
Immigrant Food/official photo
The Union Market stall bottles its popular red and white sangria in 12-oz. containers. International beers show love for Turkish and Serbian labels.
Immigrant Food/official photo

“[Union Market] is an opportunity to educate a new neighborhood about the importance of immigrants in the food chain and what they have done and continue to do for this country,” says Schechter, a global affairs specialist who served on the board of José Andrés‘s ThinkFoodGroup for 14 years. “Without truck drivers to servers to line cooks, there’d be no food in America.”

The downtown location celebrates Vice President Kamala Harris — the first woman, Black person, and Asian-American to hold that office — with a “Kamala” bowl referencing her her Jamaican and Indian heritage with plantains and curry chicken. This spring, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff stopped by to order the bowl created in honor of his wife.

After some debate, Immigrant Food decided to “keep it near the White House,” Schechter says.

Union Market will soon diversify its lineup even more. Riverdale Park-based 2Fifty Texas BBQ is moving in soon, and Eater recently spotted signage for Ravenhook Bakery. Pop-up chef Nicholas Martino has announced a July opening for a British-themed stall called Aboveground that sells sausage rolls and fish and chips.

To Pass Secret Service Security, a Fast-Casual Spot in D.C. Had to Stuff Groceries Into Suitcases [EDC]