A friend recently informed me that the Lancaster County Dutch Market in Germantown, Maryland, is one of the best bakeries in the state. And just like that, an idea for a Maryland road trip dropped onto my proverbial plate like an oven-fresh dinner roll!
I cheerfully set out from my home in Baltimore with a stout appetite and curiosity in tow. Here’s what I discovered at Germantown’s Lancaster County Dutch Market:
It’s More Than a Bakery
In addition to a bountiful bakery section run by the Beiler family, the market is organized like a square of several individual Pennsylvania Dutch family-owned stalls.
Some families sell different specialty grocery items like farm-fresh cheeses, prime cuts of meat, deli salads, and organic produce; others offer grab-and-go eats like barbecue, fried chicken, doughnuts, candies, and jams.
At the center of the square lies the in-house diner, Dutch Family Restaurant, cooking up comfort food staples. It offers the only seating in the Market and was packed during the lunch rush.
Leave time to explore the furniture and craft stall at the back of the market near the deli. It was an eruption of darling seasonal decor when I visited.
Yes, It’s Really Amish Owned & Operated
Since opening in 1996, the Market has been owned and operated by a collection of Amish Dutch families hailing from Lancaster County in southern Pennsylvania.
All Market employees wear traditional Amish clothing. The men dress in trousers and suspenders and the women wear simple long dresses, white aprons, and bonnet-like “kapps”.
Customer appreciation is a big deal to the Amish. Market employees are friendly and not put off by the commonplace curiosity of us outsiders. I found them very willing to chat about their goods and help me decide which tastes of Lancaster to bring home.
Everything is Homemade
Fresh is the operative word at this little outpost of Central Pennsylvania Dutch country. Everything is made from scratch, like the reams of fudge at Lapp’s Candies and the piles of fried chicken at King’s Barbeque. As you can imagine, there are long lines for both items.
Loyal patrons also love Lapp’s candied apples, Esh Produce eggs, Beiler’s peach praline pie and strawberry donuts, King’s BBQ ribs, Mom’s Pantry chicken salad, and Zook’s pimento cheese spread.
The next time I visit, I plan on trying the chocolate-covered bacon from Lapp’s!
Deals are Plentiful, Hours are Limited
While the Market’s prices are incredible to begin with, you can score even better deals with special promotions and seasonal giveaways. When I visited, the bakery offered a very tempting BOGO deal! Check the website for the latest.
The Market’s hours are limited; it’s only open Thursday-Saturday each week. This operating schedule gives staff time to observe the Sunday Sabbath and prepare truckloads of Amish-grown food during the remainder of the week.
Don’t Pass on the Soft Pretzels
Follow your nose to one of the first stalls near the entrance, Lapp’s Soft Pretzels. It offers one of the Market’s main attractions: freshly made soft buttery pretzels.
I ordered mine the classic way—with salt. It was one of the least regrettable decisions I’ve made all year.
Make sure to stop for a hot pretzel on the way in or the way out (or at some point during your visit). Take a moment to watch the employees shape the dough right in front of you.
If shopping for premium food at an affordable price in a friendly setting sounds like your idea of a good time, then it’s time to plan your own road trip to the Lancaster County Dutch Market in Germantown.
Lead Photo Credit: Chelsea Milko McCallister
About the Author
A native of Las Vegas, NV, Chelsea Milko McAllister resides in the historic Baltimore neighborhood of Charles Village with her new husband and stepson. Her foreign policy career and travel obsession have taken her to over 50 countries, including Uganda, where she served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. Chelsea loves documenting her Maryland adventures through writing and photography. Follow her on Instagram @themilkoway.