Foraging for Food
Soup-to-nuts on where to shop for soup and nuts
Published: August 29, 2011
For many, college means no more home-cooked meals. Although this is a frightening prospect, don’t worry, you won’t starve (probably). And you don’t have to rely on pizza and subs either. You can easily find the ingredients you need to recreate mom’s chicken potpie, or even whip up some creations of your own. We’ve compiled a list of all-purpose grocery stores near Baltimore campuses and a few places worth a bit of a trip, as well as some places where you can track down those elusive ethnic delicacies.
Groceries Near Campuses
For basic shopping, there’s nothing better than having a grocery store within walking distance. Students at Coppin State University can walk over to Shoppers Food Warehouse (2000 Gwynns Falls Parkway,  627-2285, shoppersfood.com) on the outskirts of Mondawmin Mall. Shoppers sells basic grocery items, including meat and produce, and is open seven days a week, 6 a.m. to midnight.
North of the Baltimore City line, students at Towson University and Goucher College can choose between their own Shoppers Food Warehouse (803 Goucher Blvd.,  321-1255, shoppersfood.com, open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.). The walk tis a bit long for someone carrying groceries, but there is ample parking, and Towson students can take the school’s free shuttle service. An old grocery space on Dulaney Valley Road, across from the Towson Town Center mall, is under renovation for a new Fresh Market (freshmarket.com) as of press time, but there’s already Trader Joe’s (1 E. Joppa Road,  296-9851, traderjoes.com, open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.), the niche grocery chain that specializes in store-brand organic/gourmet items. It isn’t the kind of grocery that stocks everything (no greeting cards, few household items, etc.) but it covers the basics fine. Students at the Towson-area schools can also head down York Road toward the city and shop at the Giant (6340 York Road,  377-2673, giantfood.com, open 6 a.m. to midnight, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays).
The closest grocery for students at the College of Notre Dame and Loyola University Maryland, if not the York Road Giant, is the Giant (711 West 40th St.,  467-0417, giantfood.com, open 6 a.m. to midnight, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays) at the Rotunda Shopping Center. Both have sizeable parking lots and are located on buslines.
Down the road at Johns Hopkins University, in addition to the Rotunda location, students can chose between the Waverly Giant (601 E. 33rd St.,  649-4180, giantfood.com, open 6 a.m. to midnight, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays) or Safeway (2401 N. Charles St.,  261-6110, safeway.com, open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.) farther down North Charles Street. Students can walk or take Hopkins’ free shuttle to these locations. The same Safeway serves students at the Peabody Institute, the Maryland Institute College of Art, and the University of Baltimore, who may want to drive or jump on the JHMI shuttle or buses 3, 11, or 61. These students also have the option of visiting the downtown Fresh and Green (222 N. Charles St.,  454-0157, superfreshfood.com, open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Parking is tricky, but most major bus routes stop close by.
UMBC students can drive or walk to Giant (4622 Wilkens Ave.,  242-4669, giantfood.com, open 6 a.m. to midnight, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays). Last but not least, students at Northeast Baltimore’s Morgan State University can drive or walk to Safeway (4401 Harford Road,  319-8591, safeway.com, open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays).
Public transportation will take you almost anywhere, but it can be hard to find an hour and a half to set aside for riding the bus to Catonsville. Those of you with cars (or friends with cars) may want to check out some of these “destination” grocery stores.
H Mart (800 N. Rolling Road, Catonsville,  612-9020, hmart.com, open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.) is a chain Korean supermarket of epic proportions. Find all of the ingredients needed to cook up that authentic Korean, Japanese, or Chinese dinner, as well as a huge variety of fresh fruit and vegetables and live and frozen fish and shellfish. The prices are incredibly low (especially for fresh produce), so make room in your trunk before visiting.
Towson and Goucher students may be familiar with Trader Joe’s (1 E. Joppa Road,  296-9851, traderjoes.com, open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.), but it can be a trek for others. It deals in unique and organic/gourmet products—pick up some free-range meats for dinner and indulge in mini chocolate éclairs or fruit givrées for dessert. The free samples seal the deal. There’s plenty of parking (it’s right next to a mall) though finding a space anywhere close can be tough; there is plenty of bus service (including the Collegetown) to the nearby Towson Roundabout. Another trendy destination for organic/gourmet groceries is Whole Foods in Harbor East (1001 Fleet St.,  528-1640, wholefoodsmarket.com, open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays) and in Mount Washington (1330 Smith Ave.,  532-6700, wholefoodsmarket.com, open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.) not far from Loyola and Notre Dame. While on the pricey side, Whole Foods stocks the freshest organic produce and other healthy offerings and is much larger than Trader Joe’s.
If you’re venturing out to suburban Hunt Valley, be sure to stop at enormous all-purpose grocer Wegmans (122 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley,  773-3900, wegmans.com, open 6 a.m. to midnight). Stock up on the basics and check out the endless aisles full of specialty items, featuring imported cheeses and organic foods. In addition, Wegmans sports several prepared-foods sections (including a bakery and a sushi bar) and expansive fresh meat and seafood counters. Wegmans is fronted by a vast (and yet always crowded) parking lot, but carless, rideless students don’t have to feel left out. The city’s northbound light rail line turns around at a station on Shawan Road, so you can take the train right to the grocery store from stops all along the line, including one just steps from both University of Baltimore and MICA. (Check mta.maryland.gov for stops and schedules.)
A trip to your local farmers market is a good opportunity to support local growers while picking up some ultra-fresh fruits and veggies. The Baltimore Farmers’ Market and Bazaar (Holliday and Saratoga streets, promotionandarts.com, open Sundays from 7 a.m. to noon), held from April to December under the Jones Falls Expressway, features farmers and vendors selling seasonal crops, raw and cooked meats, and crafts. Other weekly farmers markets include the 32nd Street Farmers’ Market (E. 32nd and Barclay streets, 32ndstreetmarket.org, open Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon) near Hopkins, and the Druid Hill Park Farmers’ Market (3100 Swann Drive, open Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) near Coppin. Visit mda.state.md.us for a complete directory of markets in the Baltimore area.
Sometimes, the Giant or Safeway just doesn’t have it. Luckily, students around Baltimore can find everything they need when relatives from the Old Country visit for dinner.
PO Tung Trading (321 Park Ave.,  962-1510, open 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.) is a Chinese grocery store that is on the smaller side but stuffed with an impressive and unusual array of sauces, oils, pastes, and spices, as well as Asian and Middle Eastern snacks. PO Tung also carries a wide selection of instant noodles—both brick and bowl types—and rice varieties that can’t be found in your average grocery. And the store has a refrigerator/freezer section that carries vegetables and frozen fish. Brave street parking, or take the bus 3 or 11.
It isn’t hard to find Latin American convenience stores around Fells Point. However, if you’re looking for cow’s stomach or that special breed of chili pepper, you’re better off stopping in at La Guadalupana Tienda and Restaurante (500 S. Wolfe St.,  276-2700, open 9 a.m. to midnight). Check out bagged peppers, herbs, and spices, crates of plantains and avocados, and huge jars of hot sauce. If you suddenly develop a craving for some Cwaniak headcheese with beef blood, walk over to the Krakus Deli (1737 Fleet St.,  732-7533, krakusdelibaltimore.com, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays), a Polish general store. The glass counter showcases a mouthwatering selection of sausages and smoked meats, while the shelves offer Polish condiments, jams, puddings, and canned foods. La Guadalupana and Krakus Deli are near bus lines 10, 11, and 30.
For Indian food, look no farther than Punjab Groceries and Halal Meat (345 E. 33rd St.,  662-7844, open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.). The store looks small from the outside, but it goes way back and is packed with curries, bags of basmati rice, jars of ghee, and cartons of yogurt. Check out the (very) cheap bagged spices, as well as high-quality fresh meats, veggies, and fruits. While you’re there, try a fresh samosa from behind the counter.
If you’re a fan of African food (or just curious), check out the Afro-Tropical Market (5845 York Road,  464-0700, open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.), which provides a multitude of dried fish, grains, meats, and rice used in African and Caribbean cooking. Try adding fonio, a versatile and nutrient-rich grain, to your diet, or pick up a couple of cassava roots and transport your stomach to a tropical paradise. Take buses 8 or 12.
Hopefully, you no longer feel as though you have to rely on cafeteria food for four years. Whether you’re looking for Cocoa Puffs or a bag of bajri flour, you can find it all.
> Email Audrey Szepinski