Located right up the street from the gargantuan Johns Hopkins Medicine complex, this most recently established of the municipal markets (late 1800s) serves both Hopkins employees and area residents, and is among the lesser-known of the markets outside of its immediate vicinity. This is unfortunate, because Northeast Market (2101 E. Monument St.) has really high-quality, strikingly low-priced prepared food. Be advised that traffic around here is always a pain in the ass, and the only real parking is toward the southeast end on McElderry Street, where there is a metered lot and some street spaces. On said street, be sure to check out West Indian Flavor, one of the few Indo-Caribbean places in the city.
The largest of but two produce stands, Richardson Farms usually has a very good selection of fresh vegetables, including an array of greens. Like a lot of city-market produce vendors, they sometimes like to price produce by the piece, e.g. "X cents per pepper," instead of by weight, which makes comparison shopping a little tricky, although, to be fair, many supermarkets are moving to this pricing strategy as well. If you're feeling a little pinched, you can always try your hand at haggling, but we recommend that for experts only.
Although it smacks a bit of circular logic, there is something to be said for that old chestnut "look for the longest line" if you want to find the best food. Although the menu at Home BBQ and Fish is fairly standard (and aptly described in its name), lines here are indeed long all the time, due, no doubt, to the excellent value combination of low prices and big portions, like a hefty solo piece of lake trout for $3.70.
Shore's Seafood is the largest and most comprehensive of the seafood stalls here. Shore's has a handy list of lunch specials for around that comprise various sea animals with various forms of cooking (steaming, frying) and various sides (broccoli, potatoes), like steamed shrimp and vegetables for $6.95 or an entire pound of steamed mussels with butter for $5.95. They also have soups, excellent coddies, and a fresh fish case, from which you can pick a fish for them to clean and cook.
Tucked back the the southwest corner of the market, Bowen's Bakery has beautiful cases full of myriad baked goods. The carrot cake-which, like most other cakes, is served in big single-serving rectangles-is very good at $3.50 per slice. Everything is a little too big, a little too sweet, and has a little too much frosting. Which is obviously fucking awesome.
Standout booth Fresh Roast Marketplace specializes in cafeteria food, if cafeteria food was really good real food. The husband-and-wife team here actually takes time to, yep, roast fresh turkey, ham, beef, and corned beef, as well as make from-scratch meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. Good stuff, huge portions, and cheap ($6.75 for all platters, which include a protein and a side). Be warned that the homemade iced tea-actually this applies to anywhere in this market-is about 1 jillion times sweeter than is reasonable.
One hallmark of Northeast Market is the incredibly cheap sandwiches, and Rex's Deli is the king: Lunch specials will sometimes include cold cut sandwiches for less than $3-less than $3.
If you want a bit of an upgrade from Rex's and the standard supermarket-deli-style cold cuts which are the norm at Northeast, try JA Wa Market: certainly a place that combines shrimp and mango qualifies. The tropical shrimp salad sandwich is still only $6.39. Sadly, due to JA and Wa being two words, Stars Wars references are precluded. And for something more left-fieldish, the place called James' Wraps actually serves tacos and Chinese food, and the dude's name is Bob. Just kidding about that last part.
There are numerous other chicken places in the market, some perhaps larger and certainly better-known, but we find that the fried chicken livers at Brunner's are among the most addictive. Wait, you've never had fried chicken livers? And you call yourself a Baltimorean? For shame. It'll be some of the best $3 you ever spent. Well, unless you don't like liver.
Something Fresh is a truly photo-worthy stall, since on one side you have a fairly straightforward salad bar that is all but dwarfed on the other side by bins full of bulk candy. Yes, bulk candy, like you'd find at a bulk candy store in the mall. For use as dessert-or as an avant-garde salad topping. Your call.
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