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Best of Baltimore Markets

The thread on Faidley's got me wondering. What other great chow finds are lurking in Baltimore's public markets?

I'm definitely a fan of Chuckie's fried chicken in Hollins Market, which I think beats Park's hands down (sorry, Mr. Baltoellen).

Also a fan of Bruce Lee's Wings in Cross Street Market, which are completely different than any other wings I've had. Steve's Lunch also puts together a credible sandwich. Nicks is a major go-to place for oysters.

What other great stuff is out there?

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  1. Sophies in the Broadway Market for an array of Polish sausages, meats, cheeses, pierogies and other goodies!

    1. ha! ha! We will engage in the fried chicken wars whenever we have our fried chicken fiesta and blind taste testing/picnic chow outing when the weather's nice. (And, I agree with you on Chuckie's being far superior.)

      We are bigs fans of Sophia's also. In fact, Mr Baltoellen should actually be called Mr. Baltoelleniski, given his ethnic background. We have consistently found their pierogis pretty amazing (especially the saurkraut and mushroom), the kielbasa and polish sausages wonderful too. Lately we're on a kick with their deli meats, and have an intense fondness for the smoked pork loin. Also at B'dwy Mk, Theresa's is good for a quick, at the counter meal. And, who doesn't love a lunch counter?

      In Cross Street, I like Steve's Lunch, too, and think they have wonderful crab soup. While I prefer the ambiance at Faidley's, I think I've had better oysters at Nick's.

      And, what's not to like about Lexington. All yer major Balmer food groups are there, crabcakes, Utz, and Berger cookies. In addition to Faidley's, I like Mary Mervis for their shrimp salad.

      9 Replies
      1. re: baltoellen

        Well since two people on my trusted chowhound list recommended Sophie's, I ran over there and picked up a fresh kielbasa and some hot polish mustard. I'll report back and let you know what I think. The contents of that deli case are to die for.

        1. re: JonParker

          Sophie's is indeed great! Broadway Market has declined quite a bit in the sixteen years I've been in the neighborhood, but Sophies, the fish stand, and Theresa's still get me to the market.

          1. re: JonParker

            You have to try the smoked kabanosy sausage as well as the hunters sausage and the beer sausage, yummy!

            1. re: hon

              I was eyeing the hunter's sausage and the beer sausage. Actually, I was pretty much eyeing everything. The problem is that I recently quit smoking, and if I bring food home I WILL eat it, so I'm trying to only get what I need for a day or so in order to avoid blowing up like a balloon.

              I agree with Hal that Broadway Market is looking pretty sad these days, especially compared to other smaller markets like Hollins and Cross Street, which are still very vital. I can't really understand why -- you'd think Fells Point would be a great spot.

              1. re: JonParker

                I think the decline in numbers of people who actually cook has hurt Broadway Market.

                1. re: Hal Laurent

                  I never knew what it was. Surely, there are plenty of people who also don't cook near Cross Street Mkt too. I miss Fells Point Chicken.

                  1. re: baltoellen

                    That wouldn't explain the lack of cooked food stands in the south building, that always seems to be half vacant to me.

                    1. re: baltoellen

                      I miss the meat market, several owners back. It started its decline into oblivion when Eric sold it.

                      And I miss the cheese shop, which started its decline into oblivion when Deborah sold it.

            2. re: baltoellen

              So I sauteed/braised the kielbasa last night and ate it straight off the plate, dipping it in some of the Polish mustard. Delicious -- not the best kielbasa I ever had (that honor goes to one I got at Fenwick's in Cross Street Market, although they don't have them consistently). But darned good, and the mustard was excellent. I'd tell you the brand but it was in Polish.

              I'm going to run up there again on Saturday and try some different stuff.

            3. I'll add the Korean place almost hidden along the north wall in the newer southern building at Levington Market. Great, cheap spicy chicken and rice.

              1. I love the crab soup at Nick's in Cross Street Market and also (no apologies) the pretzel hot dog at the next stand down.

                2 Replies
                1. re: sweetpotater

                  In Lexington Market:
                  Rheb's hand-dipped chocolates give Bergers a run for my money. They are local and have been around for about 90 years.

                  Krause's fresh turkey sandwiches. Carved warm off the bone and piled high right onto your bread. Light rye, with hots.

                  another thread:

                  1. re: sweetpotater

                    Love the pretzel dogs... that's probably the one thing I always get when I'm at Cross St. So cheap and tasty and hard to pass up.

                  2. Poor poor Northeast market, always the joke of the baltimore markets. You can find some pretty good (not really great though) food there, and at least it's miles better than the Hopkins Hospital food.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Wangus

                      I've heard Richardson's at the Northeast market is one of the largest greens purveyors on the east coast. Most if not all of it is grown on their farm near Glen Arm. I haven't visited Northeast enough to know the best eating spots but Richardson's is to Northeast as Faidley's is to Lexington.

                      I like Theresa's at the Fells point market-- shrimp salad, my favorite green pepper cheese steak, decent soups, and friendly staff.

                      1. re: baltimorejim

                        I am always on the hunt for good Shrimp Salad, I will have to check it out!

                    2. Hey Jon, sorry to get into to this late. In addition to those already discussed, I would add Pollack Johnnie's in the Lexington Market. Well done polish with the works. Awesome lunch.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: KAZ

                        I can't believe I forgot that. I love Pollock Johnnie's.

                      2. can some of you federal hillians detail some of your favorite things in cross st market for me? i moved here about 5 months ago but never really found a great thread breaking down all the gems in cross st market...

                        here is what ive had thus far:

                        bruce lee's wings: great wings, never had any wings quite like this

                        big jims deli: very average. nothing to write home about. the corned beef is your run of the mill saval foods cut, they microwave their meats, and the sandwiches arent even that big.

                        smoke (or is it rub? i cant remember): great beef brisket sandwich, great pork sandwich, very average sides

                        steve's: probably the best MD crab soup i've had. gf had the cheesesteak and it not only looked subpar but she said it wasnt very good

                        other than that, i havent been to either of the fried chicken places (mondawmin or chicken box), i havent been to nick's (i really want to get some oysters there at some point), nor have i been to the pretzel place, sausage place, matsuri hibachi offshoot, or any of the meat/fish markets.

                        the flower vendor looks promising and im curious about the two places that sell baked goods.

                        thanks in advance for the insight everyone

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: MarcDC

                          I tend to agree with your assessments on the things I've tried, with a couple of exceptions.

                          I do like Smoke's (Rub is the restaurant on Light Street) pork and brisket. Not the best in town, but good. The first time I went I thought the baked beans were among the best I've ever had, but they were never nearly that good on subsequent visits. No idea what caused the difference, but it was disappointing. The corn when in season is outstanding.

                          Big Jim's is pretty useless. I've had good cheese steaks at Steve's and bad ones. They're a bit inconsistent.

                          Chicken Box is decent, but not as good as Chuckie's in Hollins Market. Ditto the sausage place -- it's no Pollock Johnnie's but it will do.

                          Fenwick's has darned good meat. I like it a lot. If they have fresh kielbasa get it.

                          I've never bought from the fishmonger, and I don't eat many baked goods.

                          Nick's is good for oysters, but I still prefer the variety at Ryleigh's. Nick's oyster sandwich was hugely disappointing though.

                          Love Bruce Lee's wings.

                          1. re: JonParker

                            Thank you Jon. Ever since I've moved here you've been quite helpful in helping me learn the ropes, so again, thank you.

                            I'll look up Pollock Johnnies and Chuckies, and if Im ever in the mood for fried chicken (Im actually doing the diet thing right now, bleh) I'll try to go there.

                            I guess im gonna have to get over my premonitions of eating at Ryleigh's. I've only been there late at night, drunk with some friends, so it's hard to associate that place with quality seafood. maybe this weekend ill give it a whirl

                          2. re: MarcDC

                            Pied a Grotta Italian Bakery (its an offshoot of the one here in Little Italy) for really great home-made desserts.

                          3. I Love all the markets and the great energy of pulling up a corner or a counter to grub with your fellow city dewllers. I haven't been to Hollins or Fells for a while but:

                            Lexington Loves: The Roasted nuts and peanut brittle at the Nut stall -the mac & cheese and the cucumber salad at Faidley's (love of the jumbo lump is a given) Faildley's is also a good place to get lobster tails to take home to cook

                            Cross Street Loves: The Western Fries at light street side chicken joint -The Hand cut fries at Nicks+Bodington's on tap=A+, they have a great cajun catfish sandwich, & one of the best oyster experiences in the City -Great place for flowers

                            Note on Nick's: I've been really dissapointed with their steamed shrimp ever since the renovation. They steam a big batch and let them sit, often they are overcooked and shriveled. I miss the old steam to order days.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: poached

                              Nick's went way downhill, IMHO, after the renovation, the shrimp being one of several reasons. I miss the days when it was a fishmonger's as well. As you stated, Faidley's is still a great place to buy fish (shad, roe of same, dry scallops, soft crabs to name a few favorites).

                              1. re: poached

                                I agree completely with the steamed shrimp at Nick's. The post-renovation steam tray is a travesty. The fish monger in the market will steam shrimp to order for you. Its much better to get it from him.

                                1. re: KAZ

                                  Thats good to know.
                                  That steaming tray needs to go and I have noticed a drop-off in people hanging and eating at the Market.

                              2. Cross Street Market - Big Jim's Deli does have good tuna salad sandwiches, IMO. The Indian lady with the dessert stand is quite expensive compared to lexington market, and so far what i've bought from her (small black/white cookies, cupcakes, etc) has been just OK. The chocolate biscotti at the pediogrotta italian shop is very good. Much better than that brittle stuff sold in the supermarkets

                                Lexington Market - My favorite lake trout in baltimore is the "Hawaiian" one from (I believe it's called) Honolulu. They also sell fruit shakes (which are just ok.) It costs $3.50 and you can ask the lady to make you a fresh one. You can ask for a "hawaiian sauce" instead of hot sauce. Lately the hawaiian sauce is lacking, but the lake trout is still as good. It's the only lake trout I can get boneless eaters to eat, it's that good. Their boneless isn't bad either, btw, but they won't make that fresh for you. I usually check to see how much of the boneless is left and then try and estimate when to come back for a fresh batch.

                                Other places in Lexington market... the cole slaw and macaroni salad at Faidley's are pretty darn good. You can get affordable fruit salad there from many vendors. The Hershey's ice cream guy makes decent milkshakes. They just increased their prices, but it's still pretty cheap ($3.25). The ice cream guy also has really good horseradish and grated coconut for cakes and such. The Berger's stand has excellent cookies aside from Berger cookies. They have them all right up front, choc chip, snickerdoodle, etc. All are very very good. They also have $1.50 cake slices that are good (but you have to eat them the same day in my experience.) Donut Delight has good, large chocolate chip cookies and good cupcakes if you get there early enough. And I have always loved their sugar donut. Berger's cupcakes are decent too, but be careful, not all of their "strawberry" cupcakes have strawberry flavor (some are just colored pink.) I've tried the other cupcakes in the market and didn't find them as good. The green and white deli (can't remember the name) has good shrimp salad. You can also find decent loaves of bread at Berger's and elsewhere if you get there early. They will slice the bread for you, but I find the slices too thin. I know I'm forgetting a couple vendors. If any come to mind, I'll post here again.

                                Many vendors at lex market have pickles in big jars. Has anyone ever tried them? I am always on the lookout for a good pickle. And who has the best mac & cheese?