Both times I have been to the Market Lunch counter at Eastern Market the line has been out the door. Eastern Market is an expansive marketplace full of stands run by D.C. local purveyors — similar to Pike Place Market in Seattle.
If you're going for a meal at the Market Lunch, be prepared to wait for a good 45 minutes, as the line slowly weaves around the diners sitting at communal tables, toward the chrome counter, where least five workers are quickly moving to prepare gourmet meals for the masses. My trick for making the time pass is to strike up a conversation with my uncomfortably close neighbors in line, who are inevitably fellow food-lovers. It takes a certain type of person to trek out to Eastern Market at the crack of dawn on a hot, summer morning in an attempt to obtain what are arguably the best blueberry-buckwheat pancakes in D.C.
If you are in the mood for lunch, the chef will recommend his crab cake sandwich. The crabmeat usually comes from the Chesapeake Bay area (and occasionally South America if the market needs it). The crab cakes are delicious — more crab than anything else and light as can be. However, if you are hankering for something different and a little extraordinary, you should try the soft-shell crab sandwich. The crispiness of the outside of the crab, with the fresh, rich, meaty interior, sitting atop a soft bun, is a combination that is hard to beat. The last time I visited, I had a difficult time deciding if I should focus my energies on this sandwich or the blueberry pancakes I had initially come to the market for. My advice would be to do as I did and get both. After all, this is a special treat and I’m sure you’ll walk off the additional calories eventually…