Eastern Market

Top choice in Detroit

Third Man Records occupies a former factory in Midtown.

©Aubrie Pick/Lonely Planet

One of the oldest and largest year-round bazaars in the United States, Eastern Market draws Detroiters of all types to its six-block spread of wares. Looking for a vegan rum-raisin donut? Grow-your-own mushroom kit? Duck sausage? Fragrant lilac bush? Vendors sell these items and more along the market's brick halls that overflow with produce, meats, cheeses, spices and flowers.

Saturday is the busiest day, when some 40,000 people come to browse. On summer Tuesdays, a smaller market takes place with yoga and Zumba classes added to the mix, and on summer Sundays, the popular Street Market with art, crafts, food trucks and live music sprouts up. 

On other days you can visit the specialty shops, galleries and cafes that flank the halls on neighboring streets, or check out the murals splashed across local warehouses. The area has become an international sensation for street art, with more than 100 cool works on walls.

Enjoy food truck's at Detroit's Eastern Market
At Detroit's Eastern Market, food trucks and live music sprouts up © Maskot/ Getty Images

Eastern Market stores and vendors

The five halls — or sheds, as they’re called — are the core of the market. Sheds 2 and 3 are the biggest and busiest, packed with vendors shouting over piles of colorful fruits, veggies, breads, teas, pies, smoked fish and grass-fed beef. Shed 4 is smaller, with open-air sides. It’s a good spot to pick up fresh lemonade in the summer or fresh apple cider in the fall. 

Shed 5 holds the community kitchen with cooking demonstrations, while Shed 6 is dedicated to vendors selling flowers, plants and garden decor.  Shed 1 was torn down in the 1960s to make a parking lot.

The Sunday market swaps out many of the farm vendors for makers hawking jewelry, paintings, hand-carved furniture, soy candles and knit scarves. To see who will be selling on the day of your visit, check the shed-by-shed vendor list posted before each market. 

The shopping doesn’t end there. Loads of foodie stores and artsy boutiques line the streets around the market halls. On the west side along Russell Street, follow your nose to Rocky’s, an old-fashioned, family-owned peanut roaster that also sells candy and chocolates. 

On the market’s east side, Cost Plus Wine Shoppe (2448 Market St.) stocks a lovely selection of reds and whites in a heritage storefront. Nearby Henry the Hatter has been making hats since 1893, dressing the noggins of everyone from President Dwight D Eisenhower to Kid Rock. A few blocks onward, Vintage Eastern Market lets you roam through a mishmash of retro lamps, ticking clocks, porcelain vases and mounted deer heads.

Restaurants and bars

Eating and drinking continue beyond the market in the many taverns, cafes and tap rooms that pop up on surrounding streets. 

For breakfast, head to the market’s west side to Russell Street, where Germack roasts its own coffee beans and transforms them into rich espresso and chili-spiked mocha drinks. A few steps away Zeff’s Coney Island (2469 Russell St.) fries up diner-style platters of eggs, pancakes and corned beef hash. 

Stay on the block for local favorite Supino Pizzeria's crisp, thin-crust pizzas. Or, sniff your way to Bert’s Market Place, where ribs sizzle on the grill and musicians belt out jazz and blues. 

On the east side of the market, Vivio’s, the neighborhood’s oldest bar, pours wildly garnished Bloody Mary’s to go with burgers and mussels in its cozy, 130-year-old digs. Nearby Detroit City Distillery concocts whiskey, gin and vodka for inventive cocktails in its industrial tasting room, while Eastern Market Brewing Co brings on mango sour beers and honeyed kölsches in its festive beer hall.

Events

Flower Day is Eastern Market’s biggest event. It’s a springtime tradition, usually held the third Sunday in May, when a mind-blowing array of annuals, perennials, blossoms, bulbs, bushes and shrubs are for sale. In 2021, it was spread over four Tuesdays in May to keep crowds smaller due to Covid-19 precautions. Check the website for updates on future events. 

The Detroit Festival of Books puts out a stash of used books, antiquarian books, comic books and vinyl records at the market the third Sunday in July.

Annual Detroit Festival of Books is worth a visit
The Detroit Festival of Books puts out a stash of used books, antiquarian books, comic books and vinyl records at the market the third Sunday in July  © Alexis Kriticos / 500px

Tours

Eastern Market’s murals include more than 100 works in the compact area’s buildings, so it’s easy to walk around and get your Instagram fill. Murals in the Market has maps with locations and artist info for self-guided tours.

RiDetroit offers 1.5-hour tours by foot or two-hour tours by electric bicycle that focus on the mural scene. Wheelhouse Detroit leads 2.5-hour tours on standard bicycles that cover the murals, shops and area history. The Detroit Experience Factory offers two-hour walking tours that explore the murals, as well as the market’s role as an urban agriculture center.

History of Eastern Market

Eastern Market’s first sheds rose up at the current location in 1891, providing a central place for farmers to sell their goods. After WW2, several wholesalers and food processors moved into the area, and the market became a wholesale food distribution hub. It remains so today and provides meat and produce for many of Detroit’s restaurants.  

The market and its environs are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The storefront brick buildings have a distinctive look, with flat roofs and late Victorian features.

Opening hours

The Saturday market is open year-round from 6am to 4pm.  The Sunday Street Market is open June through September from 10am to 4pm. The Tuesday market is open June through September from 9am to 3pm.

Most of the specialty stores, bars and restaurants are open Tuesday through Saturday.

Location

Eastern Market is located 2 miles northeast of downtown via I-75. Parking is free in the garage on Riopelle St. and in the large lot near Russell St. and the Fisher Freeway Service Drive.

Many visitors cycle to the market from downtown using the Dequindre Cut Greenway path.

Downtown Detroit at twilight
Eastern Market is located 2 miles northeast of downtown via I-75 © f11photo / Shutterstock