Frankfurt’s Klein Markt Halle, located in the city center, is a busy and popular place to visit and to shop. Its’ origins date back to the 1890’s when Frankfurt built one of those large glass and iron palace sort of places and filled it with stands selling all sorts of foods. Bakers, butchers, produce, fish, wine, you name it, it was all here. The building was destroyed during the fire storm bombing in March 1944. The Klein Markt Halle re-opened in 1954 in its’ present location. Many of the families running the stands have been doing this for generations.
If you enter through the door on Hasengasse, which is the street that runs directly out of the Kaiserdom main entrance, you are greeted with big flower stands on the right side and a long row of butchers on the left side. Upstairs on the second floor, are butchers selling wild meat, such as venison, boar, pheasant, duck or rabbit, many sorts of eggs and poultry, seafood shops, an oyster bar, and Italian delicatessens. At the end of this upper level if you walk outside, is a wine bar. This is an extremely popular place to gather with friends for a glass of wine, though it can be a bit smoky. The entire downstairs area is filled with stands selling all kinds of delicious foods and delicacies. It is a gourmet cooks dream! The cheese stands draw me in every time, but the bakeries are a close second. Some stands specialize in foreign delicacies such as Asian, Persian, Greek or Italian. On Fridays and Saturdays, when you walk past the stairs going to the cellar, you will see the fish swimming in a small tiled enclosure. You pick out your fish and the vendor proceeds to clean it for you, wrap it in foil and you are ready to go grilling. There are usually a few kids standing down there watching the whole procedure, fascinated by it all.
The produce stands are fabulous, carrying exotic fruits and vegetables, some of which you may have never seen before. Though they have the usual produce that you can get all year, this is the place to come to when you just have to have mini-asparagus for your dinner party on New Years eve, or luscious huge raspberries in Nov. You do pay the price for out-of season specialties. They may have 10 kinds of potatoes, 15 kinds of tomatoes, lots of unusual mushrooms, including black or white truffles, and fresh herbs of every kind. Do allow the vendors to pick out your produce for you. They take enormous pride in having everything look perfect and beautiful and they don’t take kindly to people touching or poking at it.
Some of the butcher stands sell sandwiches, hot sausages, home-made potato salad and gruene sosse, a Frankfurt specialty. Long lines form at lunchtime from the neighboring downtown businesses. The place is packed on Saturdays, but that makes it even more fun. The hours are rather short, closing at 18:00 during the week and at 16:00 on Saturdays. If walking through the Klein Markt Halle has made you hungry, but you would like to sit down, try the restaurant “Markt Stubb”, located upstairs where you first came in by the Hasengasse entrance. They offer a delicious, reasonably priced menu, in a very traditional German atmosphere. No credit cards accepted though.
On Saturdays, there is an outdoor market at the Liebfrauen end of the Klein Markt Halle that is extremely popular with residents and visitors alike. A few of the Klein Markt Halle vendors set up stands outside to sell their delicious wares. Wines, bratwursts, Green Sauce, Raclette, and more. Occasionally with live music.
I think you will like this place as much as I do. It is one of the most popular stops on the “Frankfurt on Foot” regular walking tour and is a great addition to your private tour.
Now if they were only open on Sundays too!