Everything to know about the Square, D.C.’s new global food hall

The Square, a highly anticipated dining destination and the brainchild of two of D.C.’s most celebrated chefs, opened the doors to its 1.1-million-square-foot space near Farragut Square this week. The food hall is designed to be a hub of global cuisine in Washington, where visitors can sample dishes from around the world, as prepared by a slate of premier vendors collaborating with one another.

The space was created by chefs Richie Brandenburg, curator of Union Market, and Rubén García, co-founder of Minibar, in partnership with the International Square building and Tishman Speyer real estate. It will ultimately host more than 15 restaurants and bars — and all the businesses will source their goods as one unit rather than ordering separately, adding to the sense that this is a collective endeavor. The emphasis on community is part of the reason its creators don’t use the term “food hall” to describe the space, García and Brandenburg told Washingtonian in 2022. The restaurants’ current offerings range from tapas to Southern American-inspired seafood, with more to be announced.

I visited a few minutes after the Square’s 11 a.m. opening on Tuesday, when only four restaurants were operational: Brasa and Jamón Jamón, both by the Square’s co-founder García; Junge’s by García and Brandenburg; and Cashion’s Rendezvous, by famed D.C. chef Ann Cashion and John Fulchino. Taqueria Xochi, a Mexican spot by Teresa Padilla and Geraldine Mendoza, was decorated but not yet serving dishes, and Yaocho, a Polynesian restaurant by John Mooney, was blocked off by a rope and signs that read, “Testing & training in process. Open soon.”

The ambiance is reminiscent of Union Market. The vast space was lined with the handful of open restaurants and designated locations for those that have not yet launched. When I was there, a crowd — who appeared to be mostly professionals — wandered through, admiring the building’s high ceilings, foliage-coated walls and bevy of spherical lamps.

Lunch is the clearly the order of the day at the Square, at least for the time being. Most of the vendors are set up to serve interesting food to busy patrons who might need to be back at their desks in an hour.

My first stop was Brasa, where I was instructed to pick a protein and add three types of vegetables, which the chefs would grill in front of me. I selected the pintxo moruno de pollo (marinated chicken skewers) with seasonal corn, rainbow carrots and eggplant. My food was delivered extremely hot, which tracks, seeing as I watched it come off the fire and into my hands. Everything was perfectly roasted; dry chicken is a pet peeve of mine, but I was thrilled to find no such poultry on my plate. The chicken, corn and carrots were all relatively simple in flavor, a touch salty and a touch smoky, but the eggplant shined brightest. My meal also came with pa amb tomàquet, a Catalan dish consisting of a slice of toasted bread with fresh tomato paste and olive oil, and a side of allioli, a Spanish type of aioli, for dipping or pouring.

My next stop was Cashion’s Rendezvous. Of the open restaurants, this was the most budget-friendly, with mini po’boy sandwiches (which, in fact, were not that mini) at only $8. This might be the type of meal you’d want to eat in-house, though; by no fault of the chefs, po’boys have a propensity for getting soggy quickly. Luckily, I scarfed it down in one sitting while bathing in light from the building’s large windows.

Finally, I landed at Junge’s for dessert, where I was tasked with deciding between churros and soft-serve ice cream. I picked the former in miniature size, which arrived sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and accompanied by a side of semisweet liquid chocolate. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the churros, even dipped in the chocolate, were not as hyper-sweet as I was expecting. This allows the depth of the chocolate and the texture of the churro dough to shine though, though they were still plenty sweet.

The space was airy and inviting, and the food I sampled was delicious — especially that po’boy. The current roster of restaurants offers enough variety to delight both D.C. foodies and tourists who stop by after taking selfies in front of the White House. And with only a third of the vendors fully operational, I suspect the Square will be buzzing as more restaurants open in the months to come.

Shoals Market, a shop that will sell baked goods, libations and gourmet ingredients, will officially open later but is accepting online orders for pickup on Thursdays and Fridays. Other restaurants slated to open include a pizza place, a sushi restaurant and a bakery.

Currently, most of the restaurants in the Square are open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Atrium Bar, a happy hour destination, is open from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and Junge’s is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Square, 1850 K St. NW. dcthesquare.com.

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