Mount Vernon Marketplace, 520 Park Ave., (667) 903-3445, pinchdumplings.com
The few times that I've gone to the Mount Vernon Marketplace for lunch, the space has had disconcertingly few customers. Granted, my schedule is a bit wonky, so I usually end up getting lunch there at around 3—not exactly prime lunchtime—but on my most recent trip there, one of the vendors told me that business so far at the marketplace has been slower than he'd hoped.
Here's hoping that business picks up, because there are some pretty great food vendors in the Marketplace right now. Take Pinch, for instance. The stand offers four types of handmade Chinese dumplings: pork and cabbage, cabbage and carrot, and beef, onion, and cilantro, as well as a rotating seasonal flavor. You can mix and match the dumplings in servings of six (if you're feeling "peckish," according to its chalkboard menu), nine, or 12.
On my last visit, I went with six ($8): two pork, two beef, and two of the seasonal offering, which that day was chicken and celery. The dumplings come steamed or fried; I chose fried, and was rewarded with hot, crispy, golden-brown dumpling dough. The pork dumplings were bursting with hot, juicy meat, as were the beef dumplings. The cilantro flavor was distinctly noticeable in the beef, which might be unappealing to people who hate cilantro, but I thought it provided a bright complement to the beef. The chicken and celery dumplings were a bit plain, but that was easily cured by dunking them in the soy sauce that came on the side. The six dumplings were enough to fill me up with room for dessert—I like to wander over to Edible Favors by Denise for a truffle and to FUL Cafe for an Ethiopian coffee to support the other vendors in the marketplace and polish off my meal. (Anna Walsh)