Mae’s Market & Café – A South Washington Street Gem
By Lani Gering
Many of you readers may not be aware of this gem that is just 2 blocks off of the beaten path in Old Town Alexandria. Since August of last year, Mae’s Market & Café has been occupying the space in the Atrium Building (277 South Washington Street) where Eat Good Food group opened Society Fair several years ago. After the demise of SF in the summer of 2019, the space stayed vacant until then.
Mae’s is the brain child of Chef Nicole Jones – think Stomping Ground and Bagel Uprising in the Del Ray section of town – and is named for her Lithuanian great grandmother. I have been told that Great Grandmother Mae taught Jones how to cook and is responsible for many of the original recipes used in many of the items in the pastry case.
With the opening of several “coffee-centric” establishments of late in Old Town, Mae’s has an impressive Espresso/Coffee/Tea/Kombucha counter on top of a deli, daily pastries and a self-proclaimed “edited grocery and bodega filled with house-prepared foot and pantry items”.
In researching Mae’s on the ‘interwebs’, I found that there is quite a bit of information on the café/food side of the business but not much about the grocery and bodega side. I believe that just looking at the photos you can tell Mae’s stocks a myriad of products ranging from eco-friendly cleaning supplies to classy cocktail mix. The majority of the pantry items lean toward the healthy side and include many organic, gluten free and vegan options. There is something for everyone here.
The beer and wine selection at Mae’s is also very impressive as is the prepared food case. They carry some fun novelty items (they even have Peeps for Easter) that are reminiscent of the old Society Fair. If you were a frequent customer of SF, you will get the same great feeling that you had then when you walk in the door at Mae’s. There is something very welcoming about the vibe.
Plans are in the mix to return the bar area into full service and expand the menu to include dinner. As of now, the majority of the seating for the cafe is in this room. This space also opens up directly into the “atrium” of the building so visitors and employees have easy access to the market and café.
Living just one block to the south of Mae’s, I feel guilty that we haven’t taken more advantage of the deli and market aspects of the place over the last 7 months. It has always been our intention to do all we can to support local businesses and in the past using the “convenience” excuse was easy but now that doesn’t hold water. In fact, after I was done with my information gathering and fantastic butter croissant, I bought a much needed half gallon of milk to take home.
Mae’s Market & Café
277 South Washington Street
Old Town Alexandria