Lexington Market offers a feeling of community

By RENEE SCAVONE | February 16, 2017

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COURTESY OF RENEE SCAVONE Historic Lexington Market makes you feel like a real Baltimore local.

While many students at Hopkins venture off campus for concerts, poetry readings and sporting events, it is not uncommon for even the most adventurous students to find themselves remaining in the bubble when looking for a quick bite.

Justifying a trip to the Inner Harbor or Fell’s Point for a fancy night out is one thing, but 60 minutes between classes isn’t enough to merit an Uber downtown. And who doesn’t turn to the array of restaurants on St. Paul when their friend group can’t decide on one thing to eat in particular?

Enter Lexington Market. With over 100 vendors located in the space, there is something for everyone, from fried chicken to pure berry smoothies and homemade meat loaf.

While the building itself is unassuming from the outside, when you come through the Market’s double-door entrance on Paca Street, you are immediately struck by the inside’s busy atmosphere. The walls are covered in murals, some famous and some original. Brightly colored vendors offer an array of things for sale, from food to clothes to cell phone SIM cards.

And, if you pop in early on Saturday, you will surely be greeted by waves of people hustling around to see who has a good deal on Berger cookies or Malaysian food.

I first went to the Lexington Market at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday, when it was considerably less crowded. As I stood in front of Faidley’s Seafood, I had a moment of feeling truly like a local.

While I grabbed breakfast from a nearby stand, my companion found herself craving rice pudding, and lo and behold, we discovered some quite easily, at a Cattleman’s Pride in the center of the market.

That random, spur-of-the-moment craving and discovery can sum up the food options at Lexington Market fairly well: If you want it, you can probably find it.

And unlike back home on Charles Street, most meals from vendors at the market won’t set you back more than a few bucks. My first breakfast on that Wednesday morning was a cheese omelet and hash browns that I watched be made on the griddle right in front of me. The meal was both tasty and filling and only cost me $4.

One of my favorite quick treats to grab from the aforementioned Cattleman’s is their strawberry smoothies. As far as I can tell from what I’ve seen, the only things that they put in the drink are water and a metric ton of strawberries. It costs $2.50 and definitely tastes better than some $4 Naked Juice from CharMar.

Beyond a cheap and delicious bite to eat, a Saturday afternoon or Wednesday morning trip to Lexington Market also offers the chance to feel like I really live in Baltimore, and not just on a few blocks of North Charles Street.

Instead of staring at my fellow, exhausted Hopkins students and getting lunch from a chain spot like Chipotle, I can meet actual Baltimoreans and know that my money is going towards supporting local businesses.

For all of these reasons (and more) Lexington Market is a great place to head for a quick meal and some local color. It’s also incredibly convenient to get to for Hopkins students. Simply take the Charm City Circulator purple route to Saratoga Street, and then walk west on Saratoga for about ten minutes until you hit Paca Street.

You’ll be able to see the market before you round the corner. This walk also takes you through a fun neighborhood with tons of other interesting shops to explore. If you’ve been waiting for an excuse to head to the Sister Lisa Psychic Reader on Saratoga, the post-meal walk is your chance!

However you get there, head over to the Lexington Market. Grab a crab cake or some handmade bread pudding, find a table between Connie’s Waffle Stand and the mural replica of American Gothic and feel like a real part of the Baltimore community, if only for a few delicious bites.

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