COURTESY OF ARIELLA SHUA
Mt. Vernon Marketplace’s wall art by smoothie vendor Fresh Monday’s.
It was a Tuesday, and I was hungry.
I had eaten lunch a few hours before, but what can I say? I knew that I wouldn’t have time for my typical meal plan dinner that night, since I had a late class at the Peabody Library. And if I was going to be in Mt. Vernon (where the library is located), I wanted to have a meal that was more unique than one I can grab from the FFC.
Enter the Mount Vernon Marketplace. The indoor eatery is relatively new to Baltimore, as it opened in 2015. It houses 15 different vendors, each of whom serves up a distinct style of food. As someone who takes ages to decide what I want to eat, that set up was exactly what I was looking for.
When I arrived at the Marketplace, I was immediately overwhelmed (in a good way) with choices. At the risk of sounding too much like Stefon from SNL, I’ll just say: This place has everything. Sandwiches, tacos, falafel, gyros, smoothies, baked goods — anything that I could imagine wanting for a quick meal was there.
As someone who is typically a vegetarian at restaurants, I loved that there were so many options, of every food style. The Marketplace proudly offers foods from various cultures, and there are meatless dishes at nearly every station. I will admit, though, that I was tempted to break at Prescription Chicken. The vendors sell several varieties of chicken soup, and their area of the market smelled delicious.
After looking around, I decided to try bibimbap, a dish that I’d never had before. Brown Rice Korean Grill offered a make-your-own variety, and it looked great, so I figured this was a good time to have something new.
I’m glad I made that decision. My bowl had steamed multi-grain rice, tofu, several veggie toppings and a spicy chipotle mayo sauce. The entire thing was steamed and served to me in just a few minutes. It was delicious.
As I ate, I noticed the atmosphere that is unique to the Marketplace. The open, food court-style establishment is divided by vendor, but the central tables allow customers to grab their meals and eat together, if they choose.
Unlike the rushed, stress-inducing food courts at my hometown mall, the Marketplace was calm and relaxed. I visited on a Tuesday afternoon, so the place was on the emptier side. A light pop-rock soundtrack from Taps Fill Station, the bar near my table, filled my part of the room with music. The patrons at the bars scattered throughout were chatting with the bartenders. Everyone was cheerful and just wanted to have a good meal.
After my meal, I decided to try something else that I don’t have often enough: boba tea.
I went to Pinch, the Market’s Chinese dumpling house, and ordered a jasmine green tea with tapioca. Not willing to have a sugar rush before class, I opted for less sweetener to be added. I’m no boba connoisseur (as many at Hopkins claim to be), but I thought it tasted great.
The Marketplace is more than just a regular eatery: It’s also a location that is proudly Baltimorean. The walls are covered in art, some abstract, some food-themed. A large corkboard is covered with flyers for upcoming events in the city. The Marketplace hosts its own events, too: game days are held every Saturday.
The Marketplace’s prices are a bit higher than what I’d prefer, but the quality and variety made up for it. It was more than a simple lunch — it was an experience. As its rules poster proudly states, the first rule of the Marketplace is to have fun.
A bonus: It’s only a five-minute walk from the Peabody Library. I went to the Library for the first time last week, and I’m furious that it took me over a year of living in Baltimore to make it there. If you haven’t gone, know that the rumors are true — that place is absolutely beautiful. It’s also by a JHMI stop, so you can easily head to the Marketplace and then to study at Peabody without spending on transportation.
If you’re looking for a good meal and a nice place to relax (and who isn’t looking for those things?), I recommend stopping by Mount Vernon Marketplace. There are food options for everyone, the trip is convenient and it’s nice to try something new once in a while. I can’t wait to go back and try dishes from the other 13 vendors.