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Visit Central Market in Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Explore Traditional Amish Food

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Picture of Lancaster PA's Central Market - Stoltzfus Bakery

Lancaster PA's Central Market - Stoltzfus Bakery

Photo by Alison Stein Wellner

The Bottom Line

No foodie visit to Lancaster Pennsylvania's Amish country would be complete without a stop at Central Market. Here, while locals stock up on staples, you'll get a good window into the Amish kitchen, which eschews modern prepared foods in favor of freshly made baked goods, canned and preserved vegetables, smoked meats and more. The market also reflects Lancaster's dining scene, with a handful of international eateries (Mexican, Middle Eastern) and even nods at nearby food factories -- Utz's potato chips has a stand, for example. Plan to spend a couple of hours here.

Pros

  • Convenient downtown location fits in well with a Saturday afternoon outing.
  • Lively market is well-used by the community -- it's not just a tourist trap.
  • It's all inside a historic 18th century market hall, so the market goes on, rain or shine.
  • A nice variety of produce, prepared foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  • A real food focus here -- there aren't too many stands offering non-food merchandise.

Cons

  • Because it's indoors, it can feel a little gloomy on a glorious sunny day.
  • The market can get crowded.
  • Ample places to sit outside, but not many options for sitting and snacking in poor weather.
  • The stands start to close up about an hour before closing time, so plan your visit accordingly.
  • Few vendors offer free samples.

Description

  • Location: In the heart of Lancaster's historic downtown. 23 North Market St.
  • Phone: (717) 735-6890.
  • Hours: Tuesdays and Fridays, 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturdays, 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 pm.
  • Vendors: Approximately 60 vendors, selling: baked goods; preserves; smoked meats; produce; dairy products; lunch items.
  • Market map: Download PDF here.
  • Market photos: Central Market photo gallery.

Guide Review - Visit Central Market in Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Explore Traditional Amish Food

Lancaster PA's historic Central Market is a great place to sample traditional Amish country favorite foods, including shoofly pie (a pie with molasses filling that is either too sweet for flies to be interested in, or sweet enough to attract many flies that need to be shooed, depending on who you believe), chow chow (spicy preserved vegetables), spicy lemonade and more. The Amish, also known as the Pennsylvania Dutch live a simpler life, without electricity or modern conveniences, so they do not rely on prepared foods. At this indoor market you'll plenty of delicious homemade baked goods, canned and preserved fruits and vegetables and hearty ready-to-eat snack options. In addition to Amish goods, there are other Lancaster-made specialties to sample, including ready-to-munch on meals from the city's international population, including Señorita Burrita, and Saife's, which offers Middle Eastern cuisine.

Stands you won't want to miss:
  • Willow Valley Baked Goods: Right when you walk in, you'll be tempted by shoofly pie, whoopie pies, sticky buns and more.
  • S. Clyde Weaver Smoked Meats & Cheeses : based in nearby East Petersburg, PA.
  • Long's Horseradish: Not for the timid!
  • The Springerle House: purchase impossibly intricate German cookies, as well as the molds so you can make them at home.
  • Stoltzfuz Homestyle Bakery : sells a bewildering array of preserved and canned vegetables and fruits, their specialty is chow chow, but check out the red beets, spiced watermelon, pickled garlic, dill cauliflower, as well as their honey, preserved peaches and crabapple jelly.
  • Tessa's Biscotti Bistro : try to leave room for these most delectable biscotti,which come in many varieties.

The red brick building itself is also remarkable, dating back to 1889. Read more about Central Market history here.
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