One of the many windfalls of moving our studio to the downtown Arts District is the wealth of local small businesses in the neighborhood. Amongst the bike shops and cafes and many, many third wave coffee joints, there’s also a high-end market.

Most of the businesses in this neighborhood are new and all of them serve a clientele—ourselves included—that simply didn’t exist here even a few years ago. The area was largely anything but residential until recently, filled with vast warehouses and shipping centers, mostly, but now, after laying empty and dormant for years, those same spaces are being converted to living spaces and working spaces and the change in the area is undeniably evident. Yes, it’s gentrification, but it seems like mostly a victimless gentrification with so few residents in the area to begin with and one that’s mostly welcome. Maybe that’s naive or simply wishful thinking, being on the end of it all that we are, but it feels like an exciting time to be in the area and, though a lot of the businesses popping up might be a tad over-precious, we enjoy most of it, especially when it comes to lunch time.

Case in point, said high-end market, the Urban Radish, as they put it “a 21st century Mom and Pop community food store”. They’re local—as they say, they can see the market from their living room, and the market itself is pretty great, carrying some of our favorite harder-to-find vegan-friendly items like Mother in Law’s Kimchi out of NYC and even some vegan cheeses from Miyoko’s. Think a tiny Whole Foods or, for anyone from back east, Union Market.

The market also offers a kitchen and cold + hot bar, with a decent amount of vegan options like fresh salads, noodle dishes, and sandwiches. Best among them, the vegan shiitake mushroom banh mi, with sautéed shiitake mushrooms, a sriracha almond butter, cilantro, pickled carrot and radish, and english cucumber on a soft grilled baguette. Everything on the sandwich is great, but the spicy almond butter makes the sandwich, lending a beautifully creamy base to blend with the bread and provide a great contrast to the pickled tartness and savory umami tastes of the other elements of the sandwich.

Hanco’s will always have our hearts when it comes to bahn mi, but with that place 3000+ miles away, this is a great, likely healthier and very tasty alternative. Keep it up, Radish!