The United States has a wealth of historically rich markets. These urban oases fill their stalls with local produce, meat, and baked goods. Shoppers hoping to experience the full wealth of local cultures need only wander the aisles of a great food market.
Most major cities in America have food markets filled with organic vegetables and homemade regional pastries. These establishments have grocery stores, produce stands, cafes, and sit-down restaurants. In this article, I take you on a tour of some of the best food markets in America. We’ll look at their histories and stores and examine what makes them so extraordinary. Here are some of the best food markets in America – if you visit these cities, make sure you visit their famous markets!
French Market – New Orleans
1008 N. Peters Street, New Orleans, LA 70116
The French Market is a New Orleans institution. The Spanish erected the earliest version of the business in 1782. Multiple hurricanes destroyed versions of the establishment, but the market was rebuilt across various locations over the years. French Market visitors can peruse the many shops included in the center.
The market includes:
- Apparel and accessory shops
- Art galleries
- Shops at the Upper Pontalba
- Home goods & gifts
- Shops of the Colonnade
The French Market houses multiple farmer’s markets. Shoppers looking for fresh produce and baked goods can choose from various vendors. Hungry visitors need only pick the cuisine they’re craving; the French Market has an assortment of sit-down restaurants for tired shoppers.
Pike Place Market – Seattle
85 Pike Street, Seattle, WA 98101
Seattle’s Pike Place Market is a nine-acre collection of shops and restaurants in the heart of downtown, and the business is one of America’s oldest and largest marketplaces. Pike Place traces its origins back to 1907, and the establishment became a historic district in 1971. A twelve-member council currently oversees the market, committed to preserving its historical integrity.
The Pike Place Market has:
- Five social services programs
- Over 220 shops and restaurants
- Over 150 crafters
- Over 70 farmers
- More than 60 buskers
- Economic housing for over 450 residents
- A foundation
Pike Place Market provides every possible food shoppers could want. The establishment houses 52 specialty food stores. Pike Place has 23 restaurants and cafes available to hungry visitors.
Reading Terminal Market – Philadelphia
1136 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, United States
The Reading Terminal Market is both a bustling commerce center and a witness to American history. William Penn planted the seeds for the establishment in the late 17th century by creating a unified location for local merchants and farmers. However, Reading Terminal Market wouldn’t reach its ultimate form until the 1980s. The establishment earned historical landmark status, and a non-profit organization currently runs the market. Reading Terminal Market sells a vast array of gastronomic delights. Local vendors hawk regional wares, from fresh seafood to Pennsylvania Dutch specialties.
The market has stalls in the following categories:
- Specialty foods: 15 stores
- Bakeries: 6 stores
- Confectionaries: 3 stores
- Ice Cream: 2 stores
- Meat and poultry: 5 stores
- Pennsylvania Dutch Specialities: 12 stores
- Produce: 2 stores
- Seafood: 3 stores
Hungry shoppers can cool their heals at one of Reading Terminal Market’s 31 sit-down restaurants. The establishment offers every kind of dining you might be craving. Several stores sell Philly’s beloved cheesesteaks, while others sell Caribbean food, Thai food, or simple hotdogs.
Ferry Building Marketplace – San Francisco
1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94105, United States
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a testament to San Francisco’s rich and diverse community. Located in the celebrated Ferry Building, the establishment specializes in locally sourced artisanal foods. Ferry Building Marketplace houses the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market-one of the top farmer’s markets. The collection of local shops and vendors is California certified and renowned for its wide variety and high-quality produce.
In addition to the esteemed farmer’s market, Ferry Building Marketplace has stores in the following categories:
- Food: 21 stores
- Drinks: 9 stores
- Groceries: 9 stores
- Sweet shops: 12 stores
Visitors hoping for a bite to eat and a place to sit can visit one of Ferry Building Marketplace’s 12 restaurants and cafes. These establishments serve everything from a glass of wine to a crepe meal.
Oxbow Public Market – Napa
610 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, United States
Oxbow Public Market displays the quality and care you expect from Napa Valley. The establishment highlights the works and wares of local artisans and farmers. Oxbow Public Market strives for sustainability. The market houses local merchants and farmers, providing the community with high-quality, organic produce. The collection of shops and stalls supports community engagement, working to build a vital resource for the locals. Oxbow Public Market services its customers in several ways; besides browsing the merchandise in person, visitors can request curbside pickup, phone-in orders, or order online. The center has 13 grocery stores, three wine and spirit stores, and nine dine-in restaurants.
West Side Market – Cleveland
1979 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113, United States
The West Side Market’s rich history and fascinating architecture house a wealth of great local vendors. The collection of stalls and stores welcomed shoppers on November 2, 1912. The American Planning Association named West Side Market one of the “10 Great Public Places in America”. The establishment’s varied vendors draw visitors from across the United States.
West Side Market’s vast assortment of merchants falls into these categories:
- Bakery: 10 stores
- Dairy: 3 stores
- Fruits and Vegetables: 14 stores
- Meats and Poultry: 14 stores
- Prepared Foods: 9 stores
- Seafood: 1 store
- Specialty: 11 stores
- Spices, Nuts, and Oils: 4 stores
The market’s restaurants sell a variety of cuisine, from Cambodian to gyros.
Chelsea Market – New York
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011, United States
The meatpacking district may not immediately evoke thoughts of produce and farmer markets, but the Chelsea Market has thrived there. Some version of the Chelsea Market has existed as long as New York City has. The precise nature evolves and adapts, but this history runs deep. The establishment houses a unique assortment of shops and vendors. Six million national and international shoppers peruse the Chelsea Market’s wares annually. Chelsea Market houses 17 specialty food stores that sell various products like hot sauce and artisan chocolates. The center has 44 restaurants where hungry shoppers can sit down and eat, offering everything from donuts to sushi.
Eastern Market – Washington, D.C
225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States
Eastern Market took nearly 100 years to go from vision to reality. Pierre L’Enfant dreamed up the establishment in 1791, and Adolf Cluss designed the last plans in 1873.Eastern Market’s design is pedigreed; Cluss also designed the Smithsonian. Fire destroyed the market in 2007, but the community rallied to rebuild the establishment.
The market includes:
- The South Hall Market
- Fresh Tuesdays Farmers Market
- The Weekend Farmers
- The Weekend Outdoor Market
- The North Hall Event Space
Over 100 vendors call Eastern Market home, selling produce, baked goods, and other artisanal foodstuffs. Nine restaurants sell prepared food to hungry shoppers.
Lexington Market – Baltimore
400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201, United States
Baltimore’s Lexington Market is barely younger than America. The establishment opened in 1782, making it the oldest market in the United States. Lexington Market houses a wide assortment of local vendors and merchants. In 2022, the Transform Lexington Market movement began taking action to expand the market and build a new, adjacent structure to house the many local sellers. Lexington Market is home to 2 fresh food stores, 15 specialty food, retail stores, and 17 restaurants. The sit-down establishments offer visitors a wealth of cuisine; Lexington market sells Malaysian food, empanadas, and vegan fare, among many other types of food.
Smorgasburg – Brooklyn
90 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211, United States
Smorgasburg lives up to the promise of its name. The open-air market is an eater’s paradise. While Smorgasburg has locations in Manhattan, Jersey City, Los Angeles, and Miami, the original is in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Flea launched Smorgasburg on May 21, 2011, as an off-branch of the original establishment. The successful center draws in a wealth of international and local visitors. Smorgasburg strives to serve its community. The market partners with Rethink Food to feed underserved communities and develop sustainable food practices.
Original Farmers Market – Los Angeles
6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036, United States
Naming your market “Original Farmers Market” is a display of confidence, but Los Angeles’s vast establishment warrants the designation. The improbable product of cows and oil wells, the Original Farmers Market traces its origins back to 1880 when A. F. Gillmore bought a dairy farm. That dairy farm underwent several permutations to become the thriving center of commerce it is today.
The Original Farmers Market has stores in the following categories:
- Groceries: 1 store
- Bakery: 3 stores
- Meat, Poultry, and Fish: 5 stores
- Produce: 3 stores
- Specialty Foods: 15 stores
Original Farmers Market provides hungry shoppers with many sit-down options:
- American: 10 restaurants
- Asian/Pacific: 4 restaurants
- Brazilian: 1 restaurant
- Cajun: 1 restaurant
- French: 2 restaurants
- Greek/Middle Eastern: 2 restaurants
- Italian: 3 restaurants
- Japanese: 1 restaurant
- Mexican: 3 restaurants
- Seafood: 1 restaurant
Original Farmers Market has five cafes and wine bars for thirsty visitors.
Boston Public Market – Boston
100 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02108, United States
The Boston Public Market creates a welcoming community of farmers, bakers, and artisans. Locally sourced goods fill the aisles of the indoor, year-round market, but the Boston Public Market’s inventory is seasonally determined. The Boston Public Market Association was formed in 2001 to develop a coalition of local farmers and crafters. After years of fundraising and development, the market opened in 2015.
The Boston Public Market has stores in the following categories:
- Bakery: 4 stores
- Beverages: 4 stores
- Dairy: 1 store
- Meat: 1 store
- Produce: 3 stores
- Seafood: 2 stores
- Specialty and Other Products: 6 stores
Boston Public Market invites visitors to take a load off and have a meal at any of their six fast casual dining establishments.
Chicago French Market – Chicago
131 N Clinton St, Chicago, IL 60661, United States
The Chicago French Market is a celebration of European-style marketplaces. The establishment opened in 2009. The Bensidoun family founded the Chicago French Market and selects each vendor. The center emphasizes sustainable, organic produce and excellent craftsmanship. Customers can opt to place their orders online and pick their goods up at the market. Chicago French Market has 21 sit-down eateries to service hungry shoppers.