Veg out at Golden West, a Hampden hangout serving southwestern favorites like tilapia tacos with cilantro-lime sauce ($13) and a solid selection of vegetarian dishes, like the crowd-pleasing buffalo tofu ($8). The sunny, open space is a low-key café by day but transforms into a lively local watering hole by 10 p.m. nightly. Performances by local bands and free movie screenings bring out a convivial crowd, as does the late-night menu from the rear Long Bar, which serves stiff drinks (mojitos and vodka cocktails from $8) and bar snacks (fried Brussels sprouts with spicy teriyaki sauce, $7) until 2 a.m.
Taste the finest foods the region has to offer at Woodberry Kitchen, trailblazing chef Spike Gjerde’s ode to mid-Atlantic agriculture in the heart of hip Hampden. Start with a Manhampden ($12), a cocktail made with Maryland rye and house-made bitters, then tuck into seasonal fare like North Carolina swordfish with wood-roasted squash and fish in pepper-powered hot sauce ($31). Stick around for late night, when the off-duty bar staff pulls a cart into the parking lot outside the restaurant, and chefs, visiting farmers, and restaurant regulars toast the evening around an impromptu fire pit until the wee hours. You can also try hyperlocal comfort food at Gjerdie's hotly anticipated, just-opened Shoo-Fly, a “farmhouse diner” in a 5,000-square-foot former shoe warehouse.
Snack and shop at Union Graze (1500 Union Avenue), a Friday-night farmers’ market and party that runs from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Chat with the genial crowd while sipping Union Craft Duckpin Pale Ale ($4) from the adjacent brewery and pick up a jar of pickled okra from local favorite HEX Ferments ($5). Afterward, walk five short blocks to the Food Market, an elevated diner serving kids, clubgoers and couples haute comfort food like barbecue-pork tacos with local corn ($10), and fried oysters with egg-and-bacon emulsion ($10). Don’t miss inventive house cocktails like the Snapdragon, which combines organic tequila with Hum Botanical liqueur and fresh lime ($12).