If you haven’t already, you’re going to be hearing about the food hall concept a lot over the next couple of years in Baltimore. In addition to the Mt. Vernon Marketplace at 520 Park Ave., similar culinary concepts are also planned at the yet-to-open R House in Remington and in Whitehall Mill just outside Hampden. This latest crop appears to be creating new public spaces in the tradition of Baltimore’s public markets, even as those buildings are potentially up for redevelopment.
The basic idea is to bring together a group of different local vendors under one roof, giving people both options and exposure to different kinds of local foods. Anyone who grew up going to a mall knows about a food court. Think in that direction, but add in food that’s prepared fresh, made by locals and of a specialty inclination.
And, at least in the case of Mt. Vernon Marketplace, there’s also mostly local beer and craft cocktails. This being an evening event, we started with some local beer at Taps Fill Station.
As far as food options, the marketplace features the Local Oyster, Mina’s Crepes, cupcakes at a spot called Edible Flavors, African salads at Ful and, tucked into a rear corner, produce at Fresh Mondays. From our non-scientific survey, the talk of the night appeared to be the Chinese dumplings available at Pinch. In the next slot over, Ceremony Coffee also recently opened.
The opening drew a packed house on Wednesday, but like any new venture, the market’s continued success is still an open question. It’s on the ground floor of an apartment building, which provides a natural constituency. Of the crowd gathered on Thursday, a couple of folks said they were delighted to have the space just a few blocks away from their workplace in Mt. Vernon. For others, it seemed like an ideal spot to go after the JFX Farmer’s Market on Sunday, or perhaps to bring visitors looking to sample a lot of local food all at one time. They earned a repeat visit from at least one first timer. We’ll be back again to try a few more vendors without having to wait in line.
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