The Royal Bagel Bakery & Deli and Lancaster County Dutch Market have been in Germantown, Maryland for as long as I can remember. I moved with my mom down to North Carolina fourteen years ago, and I always miss them when I’m feeling nostalgic and hungry. So, when my fiancé, a Floridian who had never been north of Richmond, Virginia (where we got engaged!), suggested we take a trip to Washington, D.C. and my hometown, those two places were the first to cross my mind.
We had fallen asleep at 2:00PM to prepare for a witching hour roadtrip departure. We wanted to fit as much as we could in two days, with Germantown being the first main stop (after a couple 7-Elevens for Slurpees, of course). We got there right as the sun was rising.
The Royal Bagel Bakery & Deli
The Royal Bagel Bakery & Deli offered comfort from the cold morning. We ordered a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on an asiago cheese bagel and a chocolate cigar (a pastry I only ever remember getting from this specific bakery).
As we were hanging out at our table, people in hoodies and pajamas or workout clothes would come in every few minutes for their breakfast or a treat. One father even video chatted with his family so he could show them the wide selection of donuts available, instead of rattling them off over a phone call or text. That’s one of the smartest things I have ever witnessed.
Our food was called out to us and I thankfully took the brown paper bags of gold. The bagel was warm and surprisingly sweet with filling insides, and the chocolate cigar was fun but a little hard to eat because it’s sticky, but so very tasty. This was a great wake-up meal to keep us going (but, at the same time, not wanting to leave).
With the Dutch Market not opening until 9:00AM on Saturdays, we decided to drive ten minutes down the road to the townhouse I grew up in and take pictures and walk around the neighborhood and my old stomping grounds. I’ve been a night owl most of my life, so seeing this area so still almost seemed unreal.
That changed as we drove the ten minutes back into town and saw people making the pilgrimage to the Dutch Market. I didn’t know the donut shop inside opens an hour before the rest of the market, but we waited inside my fiancé’s car until about ten minutes after 9:00AM to give the vendors time to collect themselves before we walked through the doors.
It was like a dream, dark with a soft glow.
I was so excited. Eleven vendors line both sides of a big square. Almost anything you can imagine is sold at this market. Our inner children led us first to the candy, where we bought the best buckeyes (peanut butter dipped in chocolate) I’ve ever had. They’re smaller than normal, so easy to pop in your mouth, and they have a comforting percussive sound as they shake next to each other in their container.
We continued the circuit and I’m salivating over the rest of the chocolate, chicken salad, fried chicken, handmade furniture, bread, cookies, and pies (let pecan pie be a part of my last meal, please), spices, and flowers.
My fiancé bought a bottle of crisp apple cider, and I bought .03lb of bay leaves for only 84 cents that I absolutely love to currently use when making curry and for spiritual practices. Had I had more money, all of it would have been spent there.
Both of these locations have been in Germantown for over twenty years.
The Royal Bagel Bakery is covered in photos from New York City (a nod to its Long Islander founders), and every Thursday-Saturday, the vendors travel down from Pennsylvania to run the Dutch Market. They are dedicated to providing for and sustaining love within this DC suburb, making it a part of themselves and their home.
If it’s been years since you’ve been back to your hometown, make a trip. It’ll be weird, eye-opening, and cool, and worth it. And if you’re planning on going to DC, take some time to trek to Maryland and discover the magic of these two locations.