Fells Point’s Broadway Market reopened this month, which means that, for the first time in nearly a decade, Baltimoreans can wander the north market shed and buy lunch.
A $3 million renovation has brought the circa 1864 building, which has been vacant since around 2011, into the modern era. The floors are gray, the walls are white and floor-length windows let in tons of natural light. Customers can take their food to go or sit down at one of the tables scattered around the market.
The market feels primed to become one the city’s most exciting foodie destinations. Newcomers Thai Street and Old Boy join old-timers Sophia’s Place, Sal & Sons Seafood and Vikki’s Fells Point Deli, which previously operated out of the market’s south shed.
The Baltimore Sun ate at five stands at Broadway Market. Here’s what we thought.
Everything about Thai Street screams: “You’re going to like this place,” from the bright blue-and-white decor to the friendliness of owners, married couple John Hartzell and Kesorn Imsin. Imsin hails from a town north of Bangkok, and the food is inspired by the cuisine of Thailand’s various regions, with standouts like Tom Yum noodles ($14), served with pork belly in a wonderfully sour broth.
If you ask for spicy, you’ll get spicy. “We’re keeping it real here,” Hartzell said. “It’s a slow burn.”
Just in case you need it even hotter, a selection of chili peppers is at your disposal.
We went crazy for their their larb pu ($10), crab cake-like balls seasoned with mint, fried and accompanied by homemade chili sauce. A $6 dessert of mango sticky rice was almost too pretty to eat (except, of course, we ate it).
Sal & Sons Seafood
Once you eat the fried calamari ($12) at Sal & Sons, you may never want to order it from a restaurant again.
During a recent visit, Salvador “Sal” Ayala, who runs the business with his sons, held up his footlong squids like a proud parent. They’re so fresh, caught from the waters off North Carolina, that Ayala likes to eat them raw with lemon. We tried them battered and fried. Don’t bother with the sauce that accompanies the plate. The natural flavor is far too wonderful.
While fried calamari is a specialty, Sal & Sons carries a range of fish, crab and oysters, all kept on ice. Ayala and his sons will clean your selection and fry or grill it to order. Where else can you pick your fish and eat it too?
As the afternoon lunch rush died down, proprietor Zofia Para stood at her stove, apron on, spooning out a plate with pierogies (which cost around $6 per order), stuffed cabbage ($3.75) and sauerkraut and sausage ($6.50), items she learned to cook from her mother in Zakopane, Poland.
It’s not your grandfather’s sauerkraut; it’s way better. The Old World appeal is reinforced by lovely red tablecloths Para has placed on the tables near her stall and the selection of sausage and Polish goodies Para has for sale. Like a few of the other proprietors, Para said she was excited to see the mix of people drawn to the renovated market. “I think it’s going to bring a lot of new people, especially young people,” she said. “I think it’s going to be really good for the neighborhood.”
Old Boy and its neighboring bar, Fat Tiger, are the latest concepts from restaurateur Phil Han, known for his popular Mount Vernon restaurant, Dooby’s. Named after the Korean movie, Old Boysees chef Irvin Seo in the kitchen, cooking up a drool-inducing array of Korean dishes, including pork and kimchi mandu and bulgogi. We devoured Seo’s bibimbap with purple rice, arugula and pickled vegetables ($11). We tried it with an off-menu addition of breaded pork tonkatsu. It’s topped with a perfectly runny egg and spicy katsu sauce.
“It’s a nice way to cover a lot of bases,” Seo said.
Patrons can also order food from Old Boy at Fat Tiger.
Vikki’s Fells Point Deli
Regulars at Vikki Powers’ stand love her “triple decking” turkey club sandwich, and with good reason. Stacked high with bacon, lettuce and tomato and Swiss cheese with turkey, it’s also one of the most wallet-friendly options the market has to offer at just $7.50.
Powers, a market operator since 1983, said she appreciates the brightness of the new space, but admitted that she’s struggling to adjust to the size: her new kitchen is less than half the square footage of her previous stand in the market’s south stall.
Compiled with input from readers and the newsroom, The Baltimore Sun’s list of 100 essential food experiences encompasses places people talk about, think about and come back to again and again and again.