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5 Great Places to Grab a Bite at the Soulard Farmers' Market
ST. LOUIS, MO

5 Great Places to Grab a Bite at the Soulard Farmers' Market

The historic Soulard Farmers’ Market has seen its fair share of bountiful food. Since 1779, when farmers first sold locally raised produce and livestock on a flat meadow in the area, it grew from one century to the next. The resulting Renaissance-style Grand Hall that still stands today offers everything from spices and crafts to produce and prepared food. Harnessing the voracious, independent spirit that drives the market year-round, local business owners fuel hungry shoppers with portable eats, including everything from fresh-baked breads and kettle corn to pork rinds and candies. Here’s a selection of five market favorites.

Juan More Tamale

Suzanne Santos and Hugo Rivera brought their tamale business to Soulard Market in November, serving up four kinds of savory Mexican staples: chicken tinga with roasted tomatoes and chipotle peppers; chile verde with oven-braised pork smothered in a tangy green tomatillo sauce; cheese and jalapeno with queso; and freshly made chorizo with potato.

For Thanksgiving, Santos even cooked up a turkey and dressing option — but you’ll have to wait until the holidays for that one, she says. For now, rely on the mainstays each Saturday and look for some weekly specials, such as a pineapple and raisin tamale that’s an ideal breakfast for early-bird shoppers. 

For sweet relief from the heat in coming seasons, check out the other side of the stand for some refreshing paletas. Rivera spent some time down in Mexico learning how to make them as authentic and delicious as he could. Revel in the fruits of his labor by trying out options including strawberry, coconut and horchata, as well as upcoming flavors cajeta and cookies’n’cream. The treats get made from fresh fruit in a fast-freezing machine for the smoothest, dreamiest pops possible.

Julia’s Market Cafe

Tom Gullickson has offered an array of eats and treats at his market stand since 2006, serving Southern staples including beignets, red beans and rice, and homemade chicken and dumplings. Five years ago, he made quite the name for himself (and Julia Soulard — the market’s namesake matriarch) by adding a now-famous bloody mary to the menu. The drink features a secret seasoning recipe and comes topped with celery, pickled asparagus and string beans that lend a crisp bite to the zesty mix. At a mere $4 a pop, there’s no wonder why the stand always has a line behind it.

Grab a cup to spice up your shopping trip any Friday or Saturday, or opt for one of the stand’s many other offerings including regular and pomegranate margaritas, gourmet hot dogs, fresh-squeezed lemonade and snow cones. Seats are available on the cafe’s deck, where live music is featured every Saturday from 9am to 1pm.

Lona’s Lil Eats

Since opening a south city storefront last fall, Lona’s Lil Eats has garnered a fair amount of positive press — and for good reason. The self-described “Asian soul food” of husband-and-wife duo Pierce Powers and chef Lona Luo tantalizes the palate in remarkable ways, consistently hinting on layers of smokiness, sweetness and spice that keeps us coming back for more. We’d be remiss then, to not pay homage to the restaurant’s humble beginnings. Lona’s started out with a single gas grill at the Soulard Market in 2008, and has since expanded to accommodate its simple but flavorful menu.

On Saturdays at the market, choose from Lona’s grilled chicken, steak or tofu rolled up in spring rolls or its signature giant rice paper wrap for the ultimate meal-on-the-go. Additional options include kebabs, stir-fried rice noodles and a chopped salad with peanut sauce. Rumor has it that the kebabs will be leaving menu soon to make room for some new additions, so get them while you can and look forward to whatever goodness Lona cooks up next.

Norton’s Cajun Corner

Chef Pat Norton, who previously owned and operated Norton’s Cafe, recently came out of cooking retirement to whip up hot dishes for his Cajun-loving clientele again, and Soulard Farmers’ Market is all the more better for it. From his stand, which opened in a prime spot within the market earlier this year, get a taste of his food four days a week, Wednesday through Saturday from 8am to 5pm.

Choose from Creole gumbo and jambalaya steeped in deep, spicy flavor, or keep an eye out for Southern specials including red beans and rice as well as etouffee. At Norton’s, it’s Mardi Gras year-round, and you don’t need an excuse to celebrate. Simply partake in the lovingly prepared, grab-and-go meals any day for a taste of the carnival season.

Mini Donuts

Donut Man Stan got his start at the Soulard Market in 1979, selling his miniature, county-fair inspired pastries straight from the fryer for multiple generations of St. Louisans, from his family to yours. Every Saturday, about 5,000 bite-sized delights make their way from behind the glass panel — where visitors can watch the donut magic happen in real time — into the hands of happy customers. 

The donuts are made with all-kosher ingredients, including trans-fat-free soybean oil and zero preservatives, so get them while they’re hot. Choose from a short list of simple, unmistakably delicious flavors: plain, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla and chocolate. Stan estimates that over the years, he’s made upwards of seven million donuts, according to counters on the backs of his machines. Here’s to hoping that huge number of mini donuts continues to go up and up for years to come.

Soulard Farmers’ Market, 730 Carroll Street, Soulard, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.622.4180, soulardmarket.com.


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