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Lexington Mkt Bmore?

p
Pappy Jul 21, 2009 07:05 AM

Thinking about taking the wife and young son on a mini road trip from Bethesda to Bmore Saturday. Kinda interested in visiting Lexington Mkt, as I remember visiting 40 yrs ago when I was a kid. I remember fresh raw oysters and fried to order potato chips.

Is is still worth a visit? What do Bmorians recommend for eat in or take out, either cooked or to be cooked at home?

Is there anything else nearby that we should see? If we wanted to stay in Bmore for a nice/decent sitdown lunch before heading home, can you recommend anything on the way back to I-95 South?

Thanks.

  1. baltoellen Jul 21, 2009 07:18 AM

    Take 295 home, and stop at Grace Garden in Odenton on way. Search this board for very long thread on it.

    You also might want to search this board for Lexington Market. I happen to adore it, but others feel differently. Here's what I'd recommend:

    Faidley's for crab cake and raw bar (also not without controversy--again, do a search.)
    Mary Mervis for shrimp salad. Grab a bag of chips at Utz stand right across the aisle.
    Chicken parts at Parks.
    Pollock Johnny's for a Polish dog
    Bergers cookies at Bergers cookie stand

    Saturdays are usually fun, since there's a band there. Great people watching, too!

    2 Replies
    1. re: baltoellen
      k
      KAZ Jul 21, 2009 07:20 AM

      Baltoellen and I are in the same camp. I love Lexington Market and agree with all of her recommendations (I'll add Krauss' for roasted turkey)

      For a view of the descending crowd see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/630656

      Take with a large grain of salt.

      1. re: baltoellen
        m
        MrsWheatie Jul 21, 2009 01:15 PM

        Agree with Grace Garden suggestion!

      2. b
        bordeauxfan Jul 21, 2009 07:18 AM

        I'd search this board -- I remember a couple of extensive discussions of the pros and cons of Lexington Market within the last few months.

        1. w
          wpstafford Jul 21, 2009 07:22 AM

          I like to visit this type of market and with Lexington I was underwhelmed. Might be OK to stop by if you're in the neighborhood, but I wouldn't make a special trip.

          You may want to give Belvedere Square Market at look. Much more panache than Lexington

          8 Replies
          1. re: wpstafford
            j
            Jonny Pops Jul 21, 2009 09:19 AM

            Strongly disagree.

            If you want to take a trip up from the DC area to find your typical overpriced, Dean & DeLuca-esque Yuppie Market, Belvedere Square is for you.

            Lexington Market is a uniquely Baltimore experience. And Faidley's is one of the world's - yes world's - great seafood vendors. The lump crabcakes there are to die for, as evidenced by the perpetually long line. The other vendors mentioned above by BaltoEllen are all worth checking out as well.

            So to recap, if you want a sparkling, safe, overwhelmingly caucasian, yuppie marketplace that you could find anywhere in Bethesda, Chevy Chase or thereabouts, Lexington Market is not for you. If you want a true Chow experience however with great food in a vibrant environment, then definitely make the trip...and order that Lump Crabcake at Faidley's.

            1. re: Jonny Pops
              l
              lawhound Jul 21, 2009 10:07 AM

              Hey folks, can't all the hounds just get along?

              I love Lexington AND Belvedere Market, they just offer two totally different things. It's a bit unfair to say that Atwaters (best soups, best bread), Neopol (smoke anything -- pork, ducks, oysters, salt, napkins -- just kidding about the last one), and Ikan Seafood (good sushi -- even better fish and chips) are just "your typical overpriced, Dean & DeLuca-esque Yuppie Market."

              To the OP -- go to Lexington, you'll be glad you did. And if you have some time, visit Belvedere (which, btw is in North Baltimore, a 15-20 min drive from Lex) too.

              1. re: lawhound
                j
                Jonny Pops Jul 21, 2009 11:24 AM

                The only thing that makes Belvedere Market interesting to a typical Baltimore area resident is that the area has a notable lack of that kind of place. Other metro areas on the east coast, and particularly DC, do not however. They are everywhere. Which makes it truly not worth the trip up 95. Sorry if it's not nicey-nice, but bad advice is bad advice.

                1. re: Jonny Pops
                  l
                  lawhound Jul 21, 2009 02:28 PM

                  Well, it's been a little while since I worked in DC, but I don't EVER remember a place like Neopol. And precious few of the quality of Atwaters. To be sure, there were (and are) plenty of wine bars a la Grand Cru.

                  My point was simply that Belvedere offers something completely different from Lex and, in fact, unique. The fact that it's more expensive, however, doesn't make it an "overpriced yuppie market."

                  1. re: lawhound
                    j
                    Jonny Pops Jul 21, 2009 03:03 PM

                    My point is it's not unique. Not in the least. It's simply atypical in the Baltimore area, but not out of the ordinary in every other big city in the Northeast. It's also unquestionably overpriced.

                    The yuppie factor is a matter of personal opinion.

                    1. re: Jonny Pops
                      r
                      Roland Parker Jul 22, 2009 03:08 AM

                      Atwaters has excellent soups and sandwiches and is hardly overpriced. Its breads are among the best in Baltimore and makes a very pleasant lunch en-route someplace else. People from all walks enjoy Belvedere.

                      Is there anything in Baltimore that one can't find in other cities in the Northeast? Even crabs and crabcakes are to be found all over the east coast, especially these days when most of the crab we consume is from Louisiana.

                      1. re: Roland Parker
                        baltoellen Jul 22, 2009 04:02 AM

                        You can most likely get crabcakes throughout the country, thanks to the Phillips corporation, but that doesn't mean that they are either Maryland, or even Maryland-style crabcakes or that they're good. I remember having a conversation with a foodie from L.A. (the city, and not Louisiana) who said that he thought he knew what a crabcake was, and then came to Baltimore and had one at Faidley's.

                        But, I don't actually think the point is Faidley's crabcakes or Atwaters breads, but of mini-roadtrip worthiness. And, I would answer emphatically YES to Lex and not so much to Bel Square.

                        BTW, I have European houseguests over right now, and when putting together their itinerary for today, I told that that whatever they decided to do, we needed to figure out a way for me to meet them at Lexington Market for lunch. I think I'm as excited thinking about playing tour guide there, as they are in going.

                        1. re: baltoellen
                          r
                          Roland Parker Jul 22, 2009 10:25 AM

                          The best species of the "traditional" Maryland food is found in certain restaurants in Dundalk and in the Maryland Club and the Greenspring Valley Hunt Club.

          2. l
            lawhound Jul 21, 2009 08:08 AM

            Lex is absolutely worth a visit. In addition to what's noted below, it also has a huge assortment of meats that you might never see anywhere elase -- like an entire pig disassembled at various butchers, ie "short foot," "long foot", tails etc.

            A great place to buy sandwiches (but takeout only) is Trinacria, just 2-3 blocks north of the market at 406 North Paca Street. Great, great italian tuna, roast beef, prosciutto and mozz, etc. You could, for ex, buy sandwiches there/Lex and picnic on Federal Hill, a short drive away with an impressive view of the city.

            1. d
              dining with doc Jul 21, 2009 11:49 AM

              although there is a lot of debate regarding lex mkt, as a former baltimorean living in montco now I strongly agree that a visit on a saturday is a good thing. I love Faidley's for its crummy but good food. The jumbo backfin crabcake is great, oysters on the half-shell with a cold heineken is hard to beat. Sandwiches at Mary Mervis are great whether it is shrimp salad or corned beef. Berger cookies are a must. Just walk around and graze. Don't let the atmosphere intimidate you.

              I also agree with the rec regarding Grace Garden albeit I don't believe there will be room in your tummy once you leave Lex Mkt. Grace Garden is another crummy (understatement) but fantastic restaurant and is worth the drive to get to in Odenton. I remember when I did my chow search for places near Piney Orchard Ice Rink responses all said go to this chinese restaurant, Grace Garden. When I challenged the poster about going to a chinese restaurant in PG county, he gave me the link for Grace Garden and said "it speaks for itself". When I went to the link, there were 177 replies, each more superlative than the next. It is a great restaurant.

              3 Replies
              1. re: dining with doc
                JonParker Jul 21, 2009 12:33 PM

                Also at Faidley's, see that at least one member of your party gets the fried halibut sandwich. You'll balk at the price, but once you get it you'll realize that there's enough fish there for three sandwiches.

                And don't forget the coddies.

                1. re: JonParker
                  c
                  chowsearch Jul 21, 2009 02:45 PM

                  At Faidley's, the fish sandwich situation is rewardingly complex--there are four possible types: the default one when nothing is specified is usually Boston hake, colloquially known hereabouts as steakfish, but you can also specify halibut, flounder or catfish. This complexity could be a smackdown candidate. The only other great fish sandwich I know in Bmore is Captain Larry's. And Faidley's does still have that disappearing Baltimore coddie as of last week.

                  1. re: chowsearch
                    t
                    thecheeseisblue Jul 22, 2009 05:53 AM

                    Coddies AND crabcakes are a given.
                    I'm also partial to the turkey ladies just outside of Faidley's.

                    Chowsearch--have you havd the fish sandwich at the caribbean joint at the JFX Farmer's Market?

              2. Chowtimore Jul 21, 2009 06:16 PM

                Just because Lexington Market is "unique" or "real Baltimore" (whatever that means) doesn't mean it's good. Out of the 100+ vendors you never see more than 5 or so that are actually recommended. The market caters toward lower-class, poverty-stricken Baltimore residents. The food that is offered is what those people are used to and can afford. They also drive the "atmosphere" that is often mentioned. You will find low quality produce, meat, seafood and a lot of greasy and fried foods. Sure, there are a few diamonds in the rough, but nothing that warrants going out of your way. Anything in Lexington Market can be found at better quality in a better atmosphere somewhere nearby. I went once and never went back.

                Faidley's might be the one place to actually check out regardless of its location, but I'm not a big fan of crab cakes in general, so I can't comment on those.

                I guess it all depends on what you're looking for.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Chowtimore
                  m
                  MDicecreamguy Jul 22, 2009 05:55 AM

                  Chowtimore....THanks for "telling it like it is" Lexington market has a few of the aforementioned vendors ( i.e. Faidleys. Mary Mervis) that are worth going to see, but as a whole market....c'mon.....not much to offer. Have been going there for 40+ years.......it really is a shadow of what it once was. Then again.....it probably caters more to the neighborhood that is in the area rather than tourists.
                  I still don't see the attraction to Berger cookies. THere are many local Baltimore bakeries (especially Gourmet Bakery which distributes to many Baltimore area delis and food stores) that make far superior "chocolate top cookies" that taste like chocolate than the overly sweet Berger cookie.

                  1. re: MDicecreamguy
                    baltoellen Jul 22, 2009 08:37 AM

                    I don't know about you, but when I go to a market: a farmers market, a craft show, or on the very rare occasions when I'm in a mall, I don't sort of think, now, well, the place is crap since I only bought from 3 out of the 200 merchants there.

                    Interesting to me that the standard for how good or not Lexington Market is based on what percentage of merchants are somehow deemed worthy. I've been on CH a long time, and I've never read about that standard applied anywhere else.

                    Or, could this only five vendors in the entire market are any good line really be a way not to talk about something else?

                    1. re: baltoellen
                      c
                      chowsearch Jul 22, 2009 08:56 AM

                      Maybe we should organize a little Crabtown smackdown: There are three Faidley's crabcake grades, regular/claw, backfin and jumbo. Only the jumbo is usually available broiled unless you really insist. Then there are two grades of crab balls for catering. Anyone up for a test to celebrate Baltimore's multicultural vibrancy while having crabcakes that make anything in DC look like pale wannabees? I don't think they would mind if we brought lemonade from Polock Johnny's. Saturday at 1 after the Waverly market?

                      1. re: chowsearch
                        baltoellen Jul 22, 2009 03:39 PM

                        Oh, and count me in on a smackdown....just not this week!

                        1. re: baltoellen
                          c
                          chowsearch Jul 22, 2009 06:53 PM

                          OK, we'll invite the naysayers and doubters--I once bet my career on Faidley's...and won.

                      2. re: baltoellen
                        j
                        Jonny Pops Jul 22, 2009 09:01 AM

                        When I just brought up that something else my reply was flagged off of the thread. Seems you need to speak in not too subtle code words like "lower-class, poverty-stricken Baltimore residents" and their "atmosphere" in order to keep certain folks in their comfort zone.

                        1. re: baltoellen
                          r
                          Roland Parker Jul 22, 2009 10:23 AM

                          Lexington Market is not the farmer's market or a strip mall in Parkville or Columbia. There are a couple things that people have mentioned that explains why the market is a divisive issue:

                          1) it not the most salubrious area (the touchy topic you refer to?). A vendor was recently shut down by the city for supplying guns to gangs (this doesn't mean the market itself is dangerous, it's not, the worst than can happen is a stolen pocketbook or an aggressive panhandler). Not everyone is Anthony Bourdain, willing to eat anything under the sun, and the atmosphere does make many people uncomfortable.

                          2) the standouts at Lexington (Faidley's, the Berger cookies, the polish sausage place) itself is a debatable issue. I don't think Faidley's crabcakes are outstanding and certainly are not better than a number of other crabcake places in Baltimore, nor are they even a representative of the quintessential Baltimore crabcake. I think Berger cookies are mediocre. I cannot speak for the polish sausage place. I have a number of acquaintances and friends who are both serious cooks and patrons of the Baltimore dining scene, both high end and low end, and Lexington is not on their radar for the above two reasons.

                          Then again, it is a subjective topic. My opinion is that the original poster will be disappointed in Lexington. I'd rather send him to Trinacria or LP Steamers, and yes, even to Atwater's in Belvedere Square.

                          1. re: Roland Parker
                            j
                            Jonny Pops Jul 22, 2009 11:00 AM

                            Just to (overly) agree with you one point: There is nothing dangerous about Lexington Market. Again, it is one of the only places in Baltimore where city residents from all colors and creeds can be found. They come together for that most chow-worthy of reasons - Good Food. And they always leave satisfied.

                            To get hung up on the supposed "salubrious"ness of the area or the "lower-class, poverty-stricken Baltimore residents" that can (heaven forbid!) be found at the market or whatever other code words are used to avoid addressing real issues is a real shame. These attitudes really hold Baltimore back from functioning as a whole and keep people from coming together...in this case together over great food.

                    2. t
                      treetop tom Jul 22, 2009 05:47 AM

                      Two of the most iconic vendors at Lexington Market are no more - Utz Potato Chips was evicted and Rhebs Candy has closed their market locations. Faidley's and Polock Johnny's are still hanging in there, though.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: treetop tom
                        Bob W Jul 22, 2009 11:35 AM

                        Rheb's is gone? That is a big hit for the market. Candy is a big attracting for marketgoers with kids.

                        And why was Utz evicted? They were probably the deepest-pocketed tenant of any at the market.

                        1. re: Bob W
                          t
                          treetop tom Jul 22, 2009 12:48 PM

                          Rheb's still has their store across from St. Agnes on Wilkens Avenue, but yes, they are gone from the market. The Utz stand was evicted after the owner was caught selling automatic weapons and other guns to gang members.

                          1. re: treetop tom
                            Bob W Jul 22, 2009 01:31 PM

                            What would Grandma Utz say about that???

                          2. re: Bob W
                            k
                            KAZ Jul 22, 2009 12:52 PM

                            Just to clarify, the stall selling Utz potato chips (among other less food related items) has been closed. I don't think the Utz company had anything to do with the operation except as a supplier.

                        2. b
                          bordeauxfan Jul 22, 2009 07:11 AM

                          Well, all these replies, but none from the OP. I lived up the street from Lex Mkt 20 years ago, and shopped there weekly. My visits in the past few years (including to Faidleys) have disappointed me as well.

                          It's likely that if the OP, when comparing Lexington Market 2009 with LM mid-last-century, will be disappointed. S/he has to weigh that with what that experience will mean to the other participants. But there are some undeniable points:

                          - LM is a one-of-a-kind place in the DC/Baltimore area;
                          - Trinacria is a fabulous Italian market, worth the trip alone;
                          - Paca St is much closer to Bethesda than Belvedere St in N Balto City;
                          - the area does exemplify an urban milieu that BS and downtown Bethesda do not.

                          This is one situation for which the food is only one factor.

                          OP -- it would be great to read your thoughts!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: bordeauxfan
                            p
                            Pappy Jul 22, 2009 11:10 AM

                            You're right, it doesn't sound like the market I remember. For right or wrong, I remember it much more as a food "mecca(?)". Not Harrod's, mind you, but a place that you left carrying bags of goodies to eat and food items to take home to prepare there. Similar to Reading Market now in Philly. Mind you, that would have been 35-40 years ago and I was still quite young.

                            Sounds like we'll buzz through for the experience, with expectations significantly altered, and probably grab lunch elsewhere in Baltimore. Not sure my prim wife and young son would enjoy ponying up to the bar at Faidley's. That said, I love fried chicken gizzards. Might have to get those to-go.

                            1. re: Pappy
                              k
                              KAZ Jul 22, 2009 01:01 PM

                              Pappy, don't sleep on the coddies at Faidley's. Definitely worth the trip.

                              And don't undersell your young son. I took my young nephew from the DC burbs and I had to put the eyes back in his head. He had to stop at nearly every stall. Pig's feet? Calfs liver cut to order? Deep fried hard shell crabs?

                              1. re: KAZ
                                baltoellen Jul 22, 2009 01:31 PM

                                I returned from Lexington Market about an hour ago after taking my two houseguests from Berlin there. They loved it, just as I expected. They had never had shrimp salad, laughed that we have it served on a "kaiser" roll, and were just amazed, like Kaz's nephew, at the huge hunk of calf's liver, and the various cuts of meat. While waiting in line, people chimed in to offer suggestions, etc.

                                While there are many places to have your first crabcake, imagine how fun it is to be at a social place like Faidley's when someone tries it for the first time. Mr. Faidley was there, and told them that during the Willie Don mayoral era, he did crab feasts in Frankfurt as part of the sister cities program. (Fun fact, yes?) Being around the raw bar, when someone hesitatingly eats their first oyster is also a great experience, and plenty of friendly strangers were on hand to offer suggestions and laugh.

                                Oh, and they adored the fried chicken gizzards, too!

                                One of the Berliners went to cooking school, and we ended up taking him to Wegman's yesterday. With that as a comparison, they definitely preferred spending time at Lexington Market, and really didn't want to leave.....

                                1. re: baltoellen
                                  j
                                  Jonny Pops Jul 22, 2009 02:35 PM

                                  Nice! Another satisfied customer...

                                  1. re: baltoellen
                                    hill food Jul 22, 2009 03:08 PM

                                    I love fried chicken gizzards!

                            2. t
                              TKinBaltimore Jul 22, 2009 09:32 AM

                              I got 3 great-tasting, huge brownies for 60c/each at an unassuming bakery at Lex Mkt a couple weeks ago. I'm sure I would have paid $2-3 for each one at Belvedere Sq or in DC. It all depends on what you're looking for and what appeals to you...some of the blanket statements on this thread have been puzzling.

                              1. Bob W Jul 22, 2009 11:39 AM

                                I have to make one more point -- the comparison of Lexington Market with Belvedere Square is ludicrous. They have nothing in common. Belvedere Square has gone through at least two complete overhauls of tenants. It's a cutesey little place, nothing more.

                                We were in Lancaster PA recently and checked out the Central Market. Now that is a good market! It hits the sweet spot of markets. If we lived there we'd shop there every Saturday. If I still lived in Baltimore I could not say the same about either Lex Mkt or Belvedere. Both would be occasional stops at most.

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