Now that the Markets development in Fells Point is (finally!) underway, the South Market shed is renewed. Some favorites from the North Shed moved down to the South—Vikki’s and Sophie’s, to name a couple, and Sal’s Seafood. The shed is brightly painted, clean and inviting. And at last there are public bathrooms—veteran customers of the Broadway Market will remember how difficult it was to find a key in the bad old days.
The transformation of Sal’s Seafood is welcome news there. Sal Ayala is still selling the same fresh seafood for the same inexpensive prices.That’s great. But he’s now selling carryout and eat-in meals as well, and the dishes are prepared to order with fresh fish and vegetables.
We stopped by on a recent Thursday. Sal’s is at the top of the south shed on Aliceanna Street, where Fells Point Coffee & Cheese used to be years ago. The fresh fish case is right there, When we visited there was wild rockfish for $5.99 a pound, red snapper for $6.99, salmon filets for $8.99, oysters on the half shell for $10 a dozen, gulf shrimp for $8.99-$12.99 and all kinds of other diluvian delights, all prettily arranged on ice.
We were there for lunch, and the menu was encouraging. Maryland crab soup ($5.99) caught our eye, as did the cream of crab soup, also for $5.99, so we ordered some for starters.
At just about every carryout in Baltimore, the Maryland crab soup is Campbell’s vegetable soup with Old Bay and tiny flakes of crabmeat added. Not at Sal’s. The soup is made in-house. The broth is bright with fresh corn, onions and carrots. There’s enough Old Bay that you know it’s there, but it’s not overpowering. And there is a lot of crabmeat, about half a good-sized crabcake worth of lump and backfin crab, sweetening the broth.
The soup is heavenly, scented with the crab and Old Bay.
The cream of crab soup is just as good for the same price, lots of lump and backfin crab swimming in a silky cream broth laced with sherry and Old Bay. It was delicious, luxurious and delightful. If you are a cream-of-crab fan, get some.
Both soups come in a vast soup plate, and are plenty for a meal. Take some home for the Feast of the Seven Fishes and tell everyone you made it. But people will ask for the recipe, and then what will you do?
We were there for a sampling, so we ordered the fish taco wrap ($5.99) off the specials menu and grilled shrimp and vegetables ($10.99) off the menu. The fish tacos are broiled tilapia packed into a soft tortilla. There’s a little mild tomatillo salsa that comes with, and several lime wedges; squeeze, dip and take a bite. It was very good.
The grilled shrimp and vegetables were very nicely done, six large grilled shrimp tossed with zucchini, red peppers and onions. It’s easy to overcook shrimp, but these were tender and tasty.
The revival of the Broadway Market is a wonderful thing. Things were looking mighty grim even a year ago, but the South Shed is an enjoyable place to visit again. And seriously, don’t wait for Fridays to visit Sal’s.
Sal’s Seafood, 1641 Aliceanna St. in the South Shed of the Broadway Market, is open Mondays through Saturdays, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.