It was 1763-exactly 250 years ago-when the first Baltimore City Public Market opened at Baltimore and Gay streets. That original market, which was constructed entirely of wood and predated the United States of America, is long since gone, but the collective public markets have been in existence ever since, making ours the oldest continuously operating public market system in the country.
Early on, the markets included barns and livestock, and, for generations, were the primary place for locals to get fresh meat, fish, and vegetables, and also served as meeting place, and focal point for both political organizing and gambling. With the advent of supermarkets, the markets lost their prominence in public life and some fell into disrepair in recent decades. But as a result of newfound interest in specialty foods, ethnic cuisine, and old Baltimore traditions, the six surviving markets are vibrant again, with some of the best deals on amazing food anywhere in Baltimore.
You won't find live goats in the stalls these days (probably), but you will find treasures like the bacon roll ($8.25/pound) and smoked butterfish ($6.99 for four ounces) at Sophia's Polish stall in the Broadway Market, a veritable bucket of superb fried chicken livers for $3 at Brunner's in the Northeast Market, and of course classics like Faidley's crab cakes and Berger cookies (they're back!) at Lexington Market.
Take this issue and discover-or rediscover-all the diverse bounty that awaits. And if your foodie itch still needs scratching, grab the glossy 2013 edition of our EAT dining guide, included in this issue, with info on over 300 local restaurants and food trucks, plus an interview with restaurateur/Baltimore booster Tony Foreman (or see it all online at citypaper.com/eat2013).
Cheap Eats 250 Years of Cheap Eats | Avenue Market | Cross Street Market
Lexington Market | Broadway Market | Northeast Market | Hollins Market City Paper's Dining Guide 2013 Eat | Belvedere Square | Canton/Highlandtown | Charles Village/Waverly | Downtown
Federal Hill | Fells PointBullish on Baltimore | Hamilton | Hampden/Remington
Harbor East | Little Italy | Mount Vernon/Bolton Hill/Station North | Food Trucks
Roland Park/Mount Washington | South Baltimore/Silo Point | From the Counties