I grew up in Pennsylvania, but I’ve called Virginia home for almost ten years now. My first four years were spent in the southwestern portion of the state while I attended Roanoke College, and I’ve spent the past five years here in Richmond. As the adage goes, time flies when you’re having fun, and as much as I love Richmond, I’m glad I’m just a few hours away from my old stomping grounds so I’m still able to get back to a few times a year to visit family. One of my favorite stops whenever I’m back home is the Central Market House in York, Pennsylvania, which is located at 34 W. Philadelphia Street. Also known as Central Market York, the expansive brick building is filled with fresh produce, homemade baked goods and a number of other items from local vendors.
Central Market House
The Central Market House is located in downtown York. Built in 1888, the market is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Over 50 vendors occupy the market when it’s open on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays from 6 a.m. — 2 p.m. A few select vendors are open at additional times throughout for the week.
The website for Central Market House calls the market the economic and social heart of the city, a place to shop as well as a place to gather. It is filled with a friendly chatter, and as you walk through the rows of vendors you’ll see families spending time together and neighbors saying hello.
The entrance is marked by tall green doors, and once I step inside I know I’ll be there for at least a few hours, looking at what the different vendors have to offer and enjoying different treats along the way. One of the first things you see — and smell — when you step inside those doors is Bair’s Chicken, a stand that’s been selling fried chicken since the 1980’s.
I usually make a beeline straight to Foltz’s so I can get a glass of freshly squeezed orangeade to enjoy while I’m exploring the market. In addition to the orangeade, Foltz’s sells lemonade, limemade and hand-rolled soft pretzels. The orangeade is perfectly sweet and refreshing and I can’t pay a visit to market without getting at least one.
I try to time my visits to the market around lunch so I can stop by Pepper’s Grille. While they serve both breakfast and lunch — and their whole menu is delicious — my favorite thing to order is the jerk cheesesteak, which has just the right amount of spice and flavor. They serve big portions but I am always happy to have leftovers from this spot. I usually can’t resist getting a small side of the freshly cut french fries from J.R’s Fries, which is conveniently situated right next to Pepper’s. I top them with salt and vinegar and they put other french fries to shame.
In my opinion, one of the best things about any market is having the chance to pick up some fresh and local flowers, but with the drive back to Richmond it usually doesn’t make sense to bring any back home. On my most recent visit to Central Market House, I was thrilled when I spotted two baby succulents at Harvest Moon Produce, which I of course had to bring with me back to Virginia.
I’m already counting down the days until I can spend another Saturday morning at the market. If you’re ever visiting or driving through York, you should definitely plan to check it out. You’ll know you’ve found the right spot when you smell the fried chicken and see the big green doors.
Do you have a favorite market that you like to visit? Tell us about it in the comments below!