Historic Lexington Market is located in Baltimore’s Bromo Arts District and is the oldest and largest continually operating public market in the nation. Since its founding, the market has served as a dynamic community gathering space where city workers pop in for breakfast, University of Maryland, Baltimore students take coffee breaks, and tourists seek out authentic Baltimore cuisine.
But aging infrastructure led to the construction of a new neighborhood market across the street from where it had stood for 238 years.
This new building has a soaring industrial-chic roof and natural light that streams in from the transoms. Like a cheerful honeybee, the color scheme is black and yellow, trimmed with steel, brick, and wood. The contemporary barn design pays homage to a renovation in 1871, when the sign “World Famous Lexington Market 1782” was first installed across the gabled roofline.
Today’s Lexington Market is a buzzy bazaar that inhabits a full city block. The arcade, bordered by food stalls, has two levels, with a central stairway providing additional places to sit. An outdoor plaza has sculptures and murals created by local artists. A branch of the Baltimore Museum of Art hosts free art programs. Vendors sell books and crafts.
Of course, food is the main attraction, and it’s hard to choose between international cuisine and classics such as chicken and waffles. Diners can eat in or take home freshly butchered meats, baked goods, and seafood.
Lexington Market has prioritized high-quality food merchants that reflect Baltimore’s diversity; many are Black-owned, women-owned, and city-resident-owned businesses. While new stalls are added regularly, current merchants sell Baltimore’s classics, like buttermilk-battered fried chicken, fudge shortbread Berger Cookies, and Faidley’s crabcakes spiced with Old Bay.
A 30-foot mural, created by Baltimore artist Shan Wallace, features photographs she’s taken of Lexington Market for decades. Named Our Ties to the Market, the images depict Black food culture and America’s public markets in general.
So hop in the car or take the MARC Train to Camden Station, but be sure to go hungry.
Where to Eat
So many alluring fragrances waft through the air. How to decide? First, Sausage Master has served up plump hot dogs, sausages, barbecue, and kielbasa since 1986. We smother our hot dogs with sauerkraut, mustard, and spicy peppers, as toppings are included. JBees Jamaican-Me-Crazy’s jerk chicken patty and jerk fish po’ boy are winners. Our tasters’ favorite were the drumsticks and wedge fries at Super Fried Chicken, a market staple since 1985.
112 N. Eutaw St., Baltimore; open Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., but vendor hours vary
This story originally ran in our March issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.