5 Saturday Food Stalls at Soulard Farmers Market That Will Make You Want to Skip the Restaurant Brunch Lines

 In Food, Guide

You could spend your Saturday brunch waiting 45 minutes for table (and another 20 for a Dutch baby pancake) at a slammed restaurant on their busiest day of the week. Or you could take a quick stroll through the indoor stalls of the Soulard Farmers Market and emerge 10 minutes later with a full picnic from five countries—or just eat while you buy your farm-fresh groceries for the week.

We took a trip to find some of the hidden gems of this gourmand’s mainstay just south of Downtown—including a few you won’t find on their official website.

1. Juan More Tamale
If you’re coming up on the market from the Ninth Street side—which we recommend if you want to window shop in Soulard’s many brick boutiques—the first vendor you’ll encounter is Juan More Tamale. Venture further if you want, but you’d be wise to circle back to this stall, which offers the best steamed masa you’ll find in the city. Every order comes with a ladle of fresh queso and chili oil on request, and they offer a rotating seasonal special for the adventurous eater; the turkey dinner with cranberries may still be on offer by the time this piece goes live, if you go fast.

2. Syrian Yummy Falafel
Feeling more like falafel? Head straight for Syrian Yummy. This Middle Eastern family-owned outfit serves your standby shawarma sandwiches and fries, but you can also dig into some less familiar comfort food, like fatayer (a stuffed pastry pie filled with beef or cheese) and kibbeh (a sort of Levantine beef croquette.) If you’d only like to visit one stall, SYF may be your best bet; their generous main dishes are all priced around $6.

3. Viet Express
You know when you go to a great Vietnamese restaurant and you just want to order every appetizer on the menu and skip the mains? Then you’ll love Viet Express. You can load up on flaky egg rolls, sweet sesame balls, delicately fried crab rangoon and super-moist chicken kabob for next to nothing. Your best bet if you’d like to leave with a full stomach and a full wallet.

4. Norton’s Cajun Corner
Mardi Gras never really ends in Soulard, so it’s no surprise that one of the market’s permanent vendors (in the heated Grand Hall at the center of the market) is dishing up Cajun cuisine. Head for Norton’s if you’re looking for fast jambalaya, etouffee, gumbo and—this is Soulard, after all—a peach margarita or a Cajun bloody mary. If the night before never really ended, we won’t tell.

5. Pekara Bread & Park Avenue Coffee
And of course, sometimes, brunch is just an excuse to eat pounds of pastries. That’s where Pekara Bread comes in. This relatively recent addition to the Grand Hall is your spot to grab everything from a cronut to a savory red-pepper-and-feta croissant to the cornerstone of any St. Louis breakfast: a donut the size of your head.

Best of all, Pekara was smart enough to partner with Park Avenue Coffee to deliver your artisan-roasted caffeine fix, and their Facebook page promises a full espresso bar to come soon. While you’re at it, grab a loaf of their insane caramelized onion focaccia, and maybe a pup-friendly frosted biscuit for your dog; Soulard Farmers Market is, sadly, pet-free, but that doesn’t mean your friends can’t wait for you in the park next door with Fido while you grab your brunch spread.

Featured image courtesy of Conger Design.

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