I have said before that driving in downtown Lancaster (Lancaster City as it's known around here) is a bit like playing Frogger. With the two lane, one way streets lined with parked cards that aren't always parked on the side, rather, right in the flow of traffic, the pedestrians that ignore the proper way to cross streets, and the constant construction, most residents that don't live within city limits - that I know, anyway - of Lancaster County, avoid going "into the city" as much as we can. However, three days a week, there is something that's worth playing the game and it's right in the middle of the hustle and bustle - "going to Market" at the Lancaster Central Market.
Central Market has been around since 1730 and as such, is the country's oldest farmer's market. Market has been in it's current building since 1889, and the architecture alone makes it worth a visit. But, it's indoors, so it's open year round with over 60 vendors who sell everything from fresh produce, smoked meats and cheeses, several ethnic delicacies with prepared foods, fresh flowers, crafts, breads, coffee, tea, spices, of course Amish wares, and even dog treats - and I'm sure I've barely scratched the surface. The current directory of vendors can be found here. Many of the choices are organic as well - which is a huge plus. A number of these businesses have brick and mortar locations and websites, but they still come to Market for the many loyal customers that visit each week. On Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, the market is a wonderful place to grab lunch, prep for dinner, or just do your grocery shopping. I recently visited Market on a very quiet day - you usually can't even move through the aisles without saying "excuse me" every 2 seconds - and took some photos to entice you to visit Lancaster County, and when you do, you must visit Central Market. (Picture heavy!)
Once inside, there is a balcony tucked into a corner that you can see the entire space from above. The first thing you see is the pride in the Market and reminders of it's charm.
My first stop is usually for a cup o' joe at Lancaster County Coffee Roasters...
I pick up some produce from Barr's Farms, incidentally, the actual farm isn't far from my house. I believe this stand has been operated by generations of the family, as many of the stands are.
Just across from Barr's you'll find horseradish being ground on site that's used in a number of products at Longs Horseradish. It always smells so good and you can't find anything better than this!
I usually pick up something for dinner at Country Meadows Farms where they offer local, organic, free range meats and poultry:
I love this stand as the offerings change up based on season and freshness, and it's just so darn cute!
The goods at Sweet Annie produce:
Across the aisle from Sweet Annie is one of my favorite stops - The Herb Shop. They offer many different spices, herbs, teas, salts, sauces, and rubs... the list goes on. This stand always has a long line, so plan ahead!
There are several bread stands, but I picked up a wonderful loaf of Italian bread from Thom's Bread last trip. Get there early before they sell out!
Buster and Mati get to enjoy some gourmet treats from Lancaster Pet Bakery every now and then - lots of yummy flavors to choose from!
What's a Market trip without some fresh flowers? The hand picked goodies from Roher Family Farm Flowers always fit the bill. Right next door is Tulip Tree Hill Farm where organically farmed heirloom salad fixin's are sure to please.
And then, before I leave, I grab some lunch. There are many choices for prepared foods throughout the market. This is just a small sampling of the German, Greek, and Italian stands. You can also find Thai, African, Middle Eastern, seafood, salads, and much more. Oh - and of course, Pennsylvania Dutch!
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is my love letter to Central Market, and really, Lancaster County. When you leave Market, even out the back door, the view is just as charming as when you entered!
What's a blog about Lancaster without a horse?