Up until recently, walking through Cross Street Market has felt like the 172-year-old Federal Hill landmark had all but been forgotten. The twenty-somethings filled the bars across the street, while inside, the majority of stalls stood empty, aside from stalwarts like the giant-beer-peddling Nick’s Oyster Bar and the greasy spoon Steve’s Lunch. It almost didn’t faze you: Another Baltimore icon bites the dust. When do the condos go up?
But after much to-do, the historic market will soon get a second chance, thanks in large part to a $7.3 million redevelopment project by the Towson-based Caves Valley Partners. With renovations currently underway, the development firm is now closing down the Light Street side of the block-long market for 90 days, which will then be reopened in two phases.
One of our favorite vendors that we got to experience before the market’s major changes was, in fact, a pop-up—one of four to open there this year. As the sister eatery of Mt. Vernon’s Dooby’s, the trendy Sundays bakehouse has spent the past few months hawking the drool-worthy donuts that owner Phil Han first introduced to the city in 2017, with an added focus on fried chicken and the age-old saying: “put an egg on it.”
Located near the market’s east entrance, the temporary space is open through this weekend, with hopes of returning when renovations are complete. As at Dooby’s, Han has taken the minimal, modern approach to this menu, too. There are the donuts, of course, in a cornucopia of bright colors and fantastical flavors, ranging from the ganache-covered “Berger Cookie,” inspired by Baltimore’s iconic sweet treat, to the savory “NY Bagel,” filled with scallion and jalapeño cream cheese and topped with a heavy dusting of spot-on “everything” seasoning.
Some lovely salads are on hand, too, such as the market greens with pear chunks, dried cranberries, and goat cheese crumbles, but the sandwiches are the stars. The classic fried chicken is the best of its kind in the city, smothered in a smoky ancho chili aioli with bread and butter pickle chips on a buttery brioche bun. And the fried egg avocado BLT has the trappings of a weekend go-to, with its modern take on New York City’s beloved egg-on-a-roll that meets millennials’ insatiable appetite for anything associated with guacamole. (Plus, it’s smeared with herb aioli butter.) And then there are the crinkle-cut fries, which instantly transported us back to our youth.
With Dooby’s coffee on hand for workday pick-me-ups and hangover cures, this cool carryout spot has been a more-than-welcome addition to the changing face of Federal Hill. And a good sign for what Cross Street Market might become. We sure do hope that they return.
›› SUNDAYS 1065 S. Charles St., 410-424-0857. Hours: Tues.-Sat. 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-3 p.m.