With only twelve vendors along the two aisles in this restored historic warehouse on the
There’s this riverfront revitalization project going on in
About four years ago, before I even lived in
I particularly did not enjoy having strangers repeatedly ask me if I was hot in my Carhartt coveralls (I’m never hot. Mind your own fucking business), being sexually harassed my bums (Dude, I’m dirty and in coveralls! Raise your standards.), and being leered at by people leisurely enjoying their late afternoon cocktails from patio tables (I was jealous).
This week of weeding four years ago acquainted me with the Riverfront Market. We stopped in a couple of times for hot chocolate. Once, I even forwent my bagged lunch and grabbed some sushi from the sushi stall and a cookie from the Amish bakery and deli. I haven’t eaten there since.
The week before Christmas, I stopped by the Riverfront Market on three separate days to see what a vegetarian could scrounge up. Here’s what went down:
I circled the entire place (quick trip) to see what I could eat:
Market City Cafe – slice of pizza
Eeffoc's – coffee
Jeenwong Thai Cuisine– eggplant and tofu stir-fry, veggie fried rice, veggie lo-mein
Olde World Cheese Steak Factory– veggie cheesesteak
Lapp's Kitchen – salad
Tokyo Sushi – veggie sushi, edamame, seaweed salad
Jona Miller’s Butcher and Bake Shop – pastries, Garden Griller panini
Riverfront Produce – fresh and dried fruits, nuts, candy, bottles of fresh squeezed juice
P&S Ravioli Company – eggplant parmesan sandwich, veggie rabe sandwich, ravioli in containers from the deli case that they’d heat up.
If it were up to me, I’d eat the sushi, but I’ve already had the sushi. My blogger-self tells me to try something else. I’m not eating fruit, nuts, or pastries for lunch. I’m not eating a lame salad, or an even lamer slice of pizza.
I go for the small Veggie Rabe sandwich ($3.95) at P&S Ravioli Company. The Veggie Rabe has breaded and fried eggplant, broccoli rabe, roasted peppers, and provolone. It’s a sandwich. Very Italian. If I were to order it again, I’d ask for some tomato sauce. (I don’t know why people make sandwiches without any sauce or spread. Inconceivable!)
I’m curious about Jeenwong Thai Cuisine. They have a small steam table with serving trays filled with the day’s offerings behind a glass pane separating your filthy face from the food. It’s mostly meat.
I ask the jovial guy behind the counter what’s vegetarian. They have an eggplant and tofu stir-fry, veggie fried rice, and veggie lo-mein. You can get some meal deal, but there aren’t enough veggie options to make a meal deal I’d be interested in, plus I don’t really need that much food.
I opt for the eggplant and tofu stir-fry, and ask for the smallest container. He asks me if I want just the stir-fry in the container, or some rice, too? I’ll take rice, too. Steamed or stir-fried? Steamed. He rings me up for $2.75!
The stir-fry contains firm fried tofu, eggplant, cauliflower, red peppers, and onions atop short grained white rice. The stir fry is very mild. If it weren’t for the lemongrass, I’d say this was a stir-fry at a Chinese restaurant. I do appreciate the rounded, short grain white rice at the bottom.
There were other dishes, like the curries, I would have rather tried, but they were not vegetarian. I do like the friendly guy behind the counter, the price, and the authentic rice.
Am I really going back? My masochistic, semi-obsession with veggie cheesesteaks is telling me to go back and try the veggie cheesesteak at Olde City Cheesesteak Factory. Uhg, ok.
First, I peak to see what’s offered at the Thai place, since the first two days I went they had the same eggplant and tofu stir-fry. The steam table is completely different from the days before, but I don’t see any veggie option other than the fried rice and lo-mein. Bummer.
At Olde City Cheese Steak Factory, the girls at the counter are very nice. I ask what’s on the veggie cheesesteak ($6.75). Onions and peppers done up Cajun-style with cheese. If you want to add mushrooms or anything else, you can for a charge. I’ll just do it up normal with Provolone. Do you want ketchup on that? Uhhhh... How about on the side? OK.
Everyone who ordered before and after me has already gotten their sandwich. I’m thinking that veggie cheesesteak stuff (I’m assuming there’s some soy or seitan involved) must be frozen, or something. Really, it’s not that long of a wait.
What I have to wait on is a table. Tables with tops depicting historic photos of
I wait at the bottom of the stairs and P&S’s deli case to keep an eye out for people leaving from the upstairs. I notice that water is dripping from the upper shelf in P&S’s deli case onto the unwrapped plate of chicken cutlets on the bottom of the case. Gross. I know lots of unappetizing things happen in kitchens that I can’t see, and eating it makes me stronger, if not sick, but I do not like to see this.
A ten minute wait, and I’ve got a seat upstairs. I open my sandwich, and it’s grilled onions, peppers, and melted cheese. No fake meat. So much for assuming. I pick up my onion and pepper sandwich to find the bottom of the roll disgustingly soggy. It could not have been wetter if I had thrown it in the river outside.
And what’s this Cajun-style the counter person was talking about? I assumed Cajun spices, but there were no spices. I don’t think anyone from
I’m perusing Spark (
I went downstairs for sandwich #2! One asparagus, avocado, roasted pepper, grilled onions, and pesto on grilled sourdough, please. They also throw in a pickle and a bag of Kettle Chips. I don’t eat chips often, so hate the free bag of chips deal at delis. I would have loved a cookie, though.
The bread is crisp. The pesto and avocado combo is a little odd, but tasty. The asparagus spears are awkward when you think you’ve bitten through a spear, but the whole thing pulls out of the sandwich and hangs from your mouth like a limp cigarette.
Well, that was my week at the Riverfront Market. My initial instincts of eating sushi four years ago were probably right. The market is a beautiful building on a riverfront park. And the park, I must say, is a nice place to eat lunch outside when the weather is nice.
But, you wanna know why you really stop in the Riverfront Market to grab a quick bite to eat?
You’ll need some fast food after you’ve squandered your entire lunch hour at the best Salvation Army that’s directly over the bridge from the market.
This place is HUGE, well organized, and always has what I need. I’ve found ski bibs that fit me; a pretty blue rain coat (a real one) for work; a red wool pea coat; a punch bowl for a party that I’ll never use again, but that’s ok, it was cheap; don’t know how many skirts; pretty plates… oh it just goes on. They even have couches that I'd sit on.
This is one place
Riverfront Market, 3 S. Orange St., Wilmington, DE, 19801
Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., closed
Some vendors open at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast