A burger sitting on a wooden table.

Before stepping into The Emporiyum, Baltimore area food lovers should brace themselves. The experience can be a little overwhelming – but in the best way.

Emporiyum EntranceThe annual foodie marketplace is located at 600 East Pratt Street, in the space formerly occupied by Best Buy. During the weekend of The Emporiyum, which takes places this year on April 1 and 2, the space feels enormous and it is packed, wall-to-wall, with incredible food.

With about 100 different food vendors scattered throughout, it can be tough to decide where to look – and where to start. Smart attendees will map out a strategy – you might decide to circle the room once quickly, then wander around again, this time taking more time with certain vendors. Or possibly you’ll find an empty table to use as a home base, sending out friends as scouts, taking short, food-gathering excursions.

You’ll also want to consider how best to structure what you try. You might make sure everyone in your group grabs something different to eat – so you can take a bite of everything. Also consider think through which vendors to hit first – will you try the savory dishes then the sweet? Or throw cautionEmporiyum Hotdog to the wind and eat dessert first?

This year’s lineup of vendors is an impressive one, including some of Baltimore, D.C. and the surrounding region’s hottest established food brands, plus a number of up-and-comers who are just starting to make names for themselves.

Don’t miss the Skinny Dipper oysters from The Emporiyum regulars The Local Oyster; Local Oyster owner and master shucker Nick Schauman knows a ton about bivalves and is always happy to share his knowledge. He’s one of the friendliest guys in Baltimore.

Emporiyum Entrance
Big personalities like Schauman’s shine at The Emporiyum, where food lovers can come face-to-face with makers, quizzing them about their products and how they’re made. Another don’t-miss food personality is Brother Floyd, a newcomer to The Emporiyum this year. He makes a mean pickle – and sings while he sells them.

The Emporiyum is also an ideal spot to get to know local restaurants. La Cuchara, the highly acclaimed Woodberry-area Basque restaurant, will have a booth, as will Fells Point’s Ekiben, an Asian fusion restaurant famous for their incredible steamed buns and Kabobi, the new Afghan spot from the owners of The Helmand.

From salad to doughnuts to beer to honey, the mix of products and personalities is dizzying.

Tickets for The Emporiyum are currently on sale; they will also be available at the door, if they do not sell out in advance. VIP tickets, which include early access (10 a.m. vs. 11 a.m.), passed bites and cocktail sips and a gift bag full of swag, are $40 and general admission tickets are $20. Saturday Emporiyum BurgerVIP tickets have already sold out and Sunday VIP tickets will also likely sell out before the event.

Attendees can also feel good about their participation: a portion of proceeds will benefit Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust and VisionWorkshops, an Annapolis-based non-profit organization that organizes photography workshops for young people from underserved communities around the world.

When the doors close on The Emporiyum at 4 p.m., stick around downtown for Light City, another downtown Baltimore festival that is both unique and inspiring. The event, a festival of light art, music and innovation includes several spectacular installations close to The Emporiyum’s Pratt Street location. The light art is shown off to its best advantage after sunset, which takes place around 7:30 p.m. this time of year.

Tuna Slaw at The Emporiyum!With so much happening in the downtown area, finding convenient parking will be an important part of getting the day started off on the right food. Harbor Park Garage, located at 55 Market Place, is right in the thick of the action. It’s easy to access from surrounding streets and is a very short walk to The Emporiyum and downtown Light City installations.



The Emporiyum: http://lightcity.org/about-the-festival/get-involved/events-emporiyum/

Light City: http://lightcity.org/

 Harbor Park Garage: https://harborparkgarage.com/