In spite of soggy conditions on Saturday morning, Tom and I did in fact make it to the Philly Wing Fry pop-up at Union Market. Luckily, the rain abated before we pulled up to the market, and as soon as we approached the (very long) line, we saw Chef Kwame smiling and laughing with hungry fans.
I get stupid around “celebrities” but Kwame was so sincere and humble, it was a pleasure to meet his briefly and to watch him engage with the crowd, even giving a primo slice of 100-day dry-aged Wagyu beef to a puppy waiting in the line (don’t tell Ashton).
And the line? It was a tad ridiculous. Washingtonians may have the most serious collective case of FOMO in the U.S. We just can’t stand to miss a big event, or a hot new restaurant, or the chance to own a Tesla. And this line was for a good cause, all proceeds went to support No Kid Hungry.
But the good thing about waiting in line at Union Market? There are ample diversions. While searching for a bottle of water, I remembered that I had yet to try another beloved DC pop-up, Republic Kolache.
After consulting with Tom, I grabbed a few for us to try over the next couple of days – classic cherry, half smoke and migas.
The waiting made us hungry, so we dug into the half smoke filled kolache right away. The dough on these babies is so delicious, and the half smoke inside was good, but it turned out to be our least favorite of the three. I liked the classic cherry the best, it reminded me of a blurry childhood memory I have eating sweet, messy kolaches in my grandmother’s kitchen. The migas version was delicious as well, the perfect and portable alternative to a breakfast sandwich.
The line was also made more fun by the fact that drinking while waiting was not only acceptable, but encouraged.
We opted for bloody marys from Buffalo and Bergen, mine topped with a tangy pickle and Tom’s with a heaping portion of bacon, but whatever your libation of choice you’re sure to find it somewhere in the market.
But we were not distracted for long, we were here for Philly Wing Fry and at long last, we arrived at the front of the line.
Service was a little slower on Saturday than on Sunday, as the team worked to figure out a system and keep up with the demand.
I was actually away ordering our bloodies while Tom ordered the food, and didn’t realize that the price of the box included a drink. I definitely would have sampled the Seabuckthorn lemonade or cucumber yuzu soda if I’d known there was no extra charge. The cucumber yuzu soda was the first thing to sell out for the day, so I assume it was pretty tasty.
So was the food worth the wait?
It was pretty damn good. The star of the show, in my opinion, was the cheesesteak. The Wagyu beef melted in your mouth, none of that stringy nonsense you get in cheaper versions. The fries were more like chips, very crispy, but with good flavor. I’m not a huge chicken wing person, but Tom thoroughly enjoyed his. While not something I’d want to eat every day, it was a really fun and affordable way to taste food from one of DC’s fastest rising culinary stars.
We overheard him tell several fans that he hopes to open The Shaw Bijou in around three months, so the wait for Chef Kwame isn’t over yet.