In Lancaster County farm to table is not a fad, but a long-standing point of practice, as it is still a vibrant farming community and county. So it’s no surprise that the city’s market has long been a hub for those in the city and the surrounding areas to gather, buy and sell the bounty from the surrounding areas in the county.
Lancaster’s Central Market is the heart of its namesake city and the longest continually running inland market in the U.S. The market itself has been held on the existing land since 1730 and in the current, beautiful red brick building since it was built in 1889. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, was named as one of the Great American Public Places in ‘95 and made it on the top 10 list for best markets in the world for CNN Travel in 2013.
Today, there are currently 65 vendors, four Amish-owned and run and a few Mennonite stands catering to as many as 17,000 visitors a week. Open Tuesday, Fridays and Saturdays, it is by far one the biggest attractions in the city and the county.
The buzzing market has seen its share of famous faces. Culinary queen Martha Stewart popped in a few weeks ago to gather goods to feature on her show. Other well-known shoppers have been as varied as megastar Lady Gaga, whose ex was from Lancaster, to anthropologist Jane Goodall, a New Jersey Housewife of two and several cooking show stars including Extra Virgin Cooking Channel star Debbie Mazar.
The Amish families and farmers, the longstanding Lancaster vendors and residents and the young, hip and artisanal combine with an abundance of ethnically diverse vendors and visitors, making the market a great place to shop and people watch. If in town, here are but a few of the can’t-miss stands.
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Amish Family Recipes is a great place to grab a bit of the flavor from the market to take home with you, be it jellies, jams, salsas, mustards or any and all things pickled. Don't leave without their black bean and corn salsa and their pumpkin butter spread.
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Delgiorno's is the market's one Italian stand. They have olives, imported Italian cheeses (aged Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, Asiago, Pecorino Romano Locatelli, fresh Mozzarella and Fontinella), the highly coveted Di Bruno Brothers spreads and handmade pasta. Yet, the biggest draw is their meatballs.
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If you are all about the organic, Green Circle Organics is the market's go to for true blue, certified organic produce. At their expansive stand, you can also pick up raw milk, eggs, cheeses, beans, rice, lentils, flour and fair trade coffee that is locally roasted at Square One Coffee shop.
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Many shoppers flock to Rene Diaz's family-run Havana Juice for their Cuban sandwiches (grilled pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickle and mustard), but the stand's star is their fresh pressed sugarcane juice.
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If having coffee in restaurants around town, chances are they are serving Lancaster County Coffee Roasters. At market they sell by the cup, but grab a bag of beans to go. They do brew flavored coffee, but their big, bold and sexy Starbarn, a dark french roast, is one of the market's stand out stars.
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If looking for a treat for a cat or dog that has high standards and more issues than you do, then the Lancaster Pet Bakery is your new nirvana. They specialize in human-grade ingredients and long-lasting chews and they have a wide range of holistic products that are gluten, corn, and soy free.They're super cute and come in all kinds of sizes, shapes and flavors.
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Linden Dale Farm is new to the market, but not to Lancaster. Established in 1797, the 7th generation dairy farm specializes in goat milk based cheeses. They sell farmstead, not artisanal cheeses, which means everything from the goat, to the feed, to the infused herbs are all sourced from their farm.
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Long's has been making and selling their famous horseradish in market for 75 years. They sell gourmet horseradish mustard, cocktail sauce and horseradish pickles, but the classic horseradish is the the number one seller.
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Many go to Maplethorpe for the chocolate milk. I go for the yogurt. There are several flavors, but nothing rivals their vanilla.
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Mr Bill's brings in the freshest seafood; sockeye salmon from Alaska and Washington State, halibut from Newfoundland, salmon from Norway, branzini from Greece and Italy and crabs from Maryland and Virginia. This is your one stop seafood shop and local conversation, as they know all the market stars.