ong before cafeteria-style food markets became a hot culinary trend nationwide, Baltimore’s historic public markets (the oldest continuously operating public market system in the United States) were serving up seafood, sandwiches and sweets to its locals on the regular. Here’s our guide to the best markets in town.
One of the first public markets in Baltimore, Broadway Market was established in 1786 in the historic Fell’s Point district. The modern incarnation blends old-world vendors like Sophie’s Place European Deli and Sal’s Seafood with new culinary concepts like the Korean all-day bar Fat Tiger—the latest from restaurateur Phil Han, of foodie destinations Dooby’s, Noona’s and Sugarvale—and local favorites like Taharka Bros ice cream. The south shed features Choptank, a popular destination for steamed crabs, fresh seafood and an outdoor libations.
Cross Street Market
Originally an open-air market, Cross Street Market was built into a two-story Italianate structure at the end of the 1800s. The building burned down in the 1950s and was rebuilt the next year into its current form. After a massive renovation that included restoring the entrances to the original 1950s designs and adding communal seating, the market reopened to diners in 2019.
Old standbys like Steve’s Lunch and Fenwick’s Choice Meats join up with newcomers destined to serve up new favorite dishes like tacos with homemade tortillas from Taco Love Grill and vegan burrito bowls at Gangster Vegan Organics. Thirsty? Pick up coffee from Annapolis-based Ceremony Coffee or a craft beer from Market Ale House. Atlas Fish Market on the Charles Street side of the market offers fresh seafood options and rooftop seating.
Hollins Market, located in the neighborhood of Pigtown (also called Washington Village), is the oldest public market building still operating in the city of Baltimore. During the Civil War, the market served as a supply shop for soldiers. The 17,128 square foot, two story market includes culinary offerings from businesses like Eddie’s Lunch (try the fish sandwiches or the BLT), Jack’s Poultry for all your (uncooked) chicken needs, and fruits and veg from L&R Produce.
Founded in 1782, Lexington Market is the oldest continually running market in America. Visitors and locals alike come back again and again for favorites that have been in operation for decades like Faidley’s Seafood and Connie’s Chicken and Waffles. The market has been undergoing a major renovation to create a second market building and a walkable urban plaza with plenty of green space and a performance venue, with the renovations to be complete by fall 2022. For more information about the transformation of Lexington Market, click here.
Mount Vernon Marketplace
Located around the corner from The Walters Art Museum and the Maryland Center for History and Culture, Mount Vernon Marketplace has dishes for every diner. Try local specialties from vendors like Pinch Dumplings, The Local Oyster, Mr. Nice Pie or grab a drink from Taps Fill Station, which features everything from local craft beer to kombucha. The marketplace also hosts fun events, like trivia, live music, a holistic healing day and the (adult!) Buzzed Spelling Bee for National Grammar Day.
Northeast Market has been a destination for Baltimoreans since it was established in 1885. With more than 30 local small businesses, prepared food stalls, carryout, local produce and more, it also has a focus on healthy eating. Some of the most popular vendors include Brunner’s Lunch, Jackpot Seafood and Fellner’s Meats.
Located near Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Museum of Art, R. House is located in a former automotive show room in Remington. Featuring nearly a dozen casual, chef-driven concepts and a 50,000-square-foot space, the food hall is at once edgy and kid-friendly. Stalls offer everything from tacos to Hawaiian poke to vegan smoothies. There’s also a central bar serving local craft beer and artisanal seasonal cocktails. In addition to all the food and drink offerings, R. House hosts events like trivia nights and live music performances.
Located along the historic Pennsylvania Avenue, Baltimore’s official Black Arts and Entertainment District, Avenue Market is as much an entrepreneurial enterprise as it is a public market. Its two-pronged goal is to offer support and amplification for local Black-owned businesses and farmers while providing the community with access to healthy food. Current vendors include Hellen’s Breakfast and Lunch, Mary’s Carry Out, Douglas Fried Chicken, J&C Bakery and Taste Good. The Avenue also recently implemented a Pop-Up program in partnership with Baltimore Public Markets Corporation and the Pennsylvania Avenue Main Street, and early participants include Grandma Louise’s Pies and Ruth’s Lavender. And don’t forget to check out the farmers market every Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m!
Found in North Baltimore at the corner of York Road and Northern Parkway, Belvedere Square is a sprawling 110,000-foot commercial hub where you can find everything from vintage wines to boutique yoga classes to fresh-cooked ramen. Shop locally sourced and gourmet goodies at the market, or treat yourself to bites from The Pizza Trust, Thai Landing, Koba Korean Barbecue and more. From May to August, enjoy live music courtesy of the Square’s “Summer Sounds” series.
Nestled along the Jones Falls waterway in Hampden, Whitehall Market is a 1798 historic mill turned sprawling food market and private event space. Current vendors include Wight Tea Co., Ceremony Coffee Roasters, Gundalow Gourmet, Heritage Kitchen and Firefly Farms Market, plus the on-site restaurant True Chesapeake Oyster Co. The scenic landscape, bright and spacious interior and cozy boots make Whitehall the perfect work or study spot, and there’s plenty of free parking on the property.