If you're a Washingtonian, you know that there's been a huge scene for #madeindc in recent years, including the incredible Union Kitchen — a food accelerator that's helped to launch some of DC's (and my) favorite brands — think Pinch Dumplings, Takorean, Swizzler, 'Chups and Compass Coffee. They even have two grocery stores in the District, just to help these brands land in the hands of customers.
Meet The Makers is their bi-annual (I think) meet and greet event for the general public, food buyers, press + #madeindc businesses. You may have remembered that I went last winter to bring you guys a round-up of every veggie-centric food business to look out for. Aaaand we're back again!
Side note: Scroll to the bottom to see Maxim's amazing name tag for the event.
TRUE MADE FOODS
OKAY. I'm starting off with this one because I only had a taste but I REALLY need to get my hands on a few bottles (hint hint). True Made Foods makes a bunch of sauces and condiments that are 100% made from vegetables. Their Veracha instantly stole my heart — it's vegetable sriracha.
They're in the middle of launching (but follow their insta for updates). They're a drink company that makes "superfood waters" like collagen blends, tumeric mixes, etc.
A long time favorite of mine. When Sasya Foods was just launching last winter, I fell in love with their spreads. And now they've added rice lentil chips to their line. Truth be told — I bought two bags at Taste of DC and have already crushed them. Keep an eye on them, because they're going to be a big player in the DC Food Scene.
Available here and at union kitchen grocery.
Another fan favorite of mine — Jrink is a popular juice + health foods place with locations across the district. Their newly released Pumpkin Chai is to die for, but any of their juice cleanses are transformative as well.
Think: Pork Rinds without the pork. 100% vegan, 60 calories per bag and available throughout the District. But be warned: They’re super addicting. I can eat an entire bag in one setting.
Available from all these locations.
DON CICCIO & FIGLI
A 5-year-old startup dedicated to bringing gourmet, handcrafted, Italian liquor to the District. Their classic limoncello is a fan favorite. But if you love something earthy + heavy, look at Luna Amara.
Super yummy "treats" — aka balls — made from nutritious ingredients. They're filled with things like raspberry, coconut, dates + chocolate. Also: sugar-free, raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.
Healthy. nut-free granola company, all available online for now. Their Caribbean Delight is the only vegan flavor — but it's really good.
Another food startup that I've loved watching grow and totally prosper. When I first met LaoBan Dumplings, they were in their humble beginnings and within a few months started popping up around the District. Less than a year later, and they're getting ready to open their first store front — CONGRATS! Veggie + meat options, too.
Amazing, healthy(ish) sorbet and ice-cream . They don't use sugar — their pomegranate pear sorbet is sweetened with apple juice. And you can really taste all of the fruits, instead of tasting the syrup-y substitute with a lot of sorbets.
I meaaaan, if you're not already a huge fan of Republic Restorative, get ready to be. Republic Restorative is a female-founded, female-run distillery. They made waves during the election for creating "Rodham Rye" and actually presenting it to HRC herself. Their newly launched Borough Burbon is wicked smooth — one of the only liquors I've ever wanted to drink straight-up. Also try their spiked lemonade (yum).
You guys know that I'm madly in love with Swapples — the gluten-free yucca waffle. Their founder, Rebecca Peress, famously went from concept to store-shelves in just six weeks. Read her story because she is a total bossbabe.
Available from: Mom's Organic Market, Union Kitchen Grocery.
WatUSee is a vegan foods company. They make these amazing "chickpea puffs" in flavors like zesty ranch + caramel sea salt. But they're not really in startup phase anymore — they're available all over grocery stores. But still delish.
Maxim likes to do what he calls "The Bonus Fry" — basically his pick of the day or event.
The Bonus Fry Blue Ribbon Winner
"EatPizza because they have accomplished modern-day culinary sorcery to create a delicious pizza that can be made in 10 minutes at home, is frozen, but tastes fresh, is organic and non-GMO, and is only 540 calories for the whole pizza."
But also a huge shoutout to these foodie businesses that are also making local, vegan foods + drinks a reality. Make sure to give them all some social media love, and look out for them in local food stores!
- Vegetable + Butcher
- Modern Bar Cart
- Compass Coffee
- Shrub District
- Port City Brewing
- Crepes Parfait
- Atlas Brewing