Go to the Market at West Side Market
Many people oooh and ahhh over San Francisco’s Ferry Building and rightfully so, the public marketplace with its high quality organic shops highlighting some of the best of the San Francisco Bay Area’s small businesses, similar to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, brought this relic public market back to life. It’s even inspired and spawned other public markets in Napa, Anaheim and many more, but it has nothing on Cleveland’s West Side Market.
The West Side Market (1979 West 25th Street; 216-664-3387; WestSideMarket.org) located in Ohio City in Cleveland, Ohio is the United State’s oldest public market. For more than a century the market has opened its doors to 160 vendors selling cheese, deserts, fish, meat and poultry 365 days a year.
Outside alongside the Market is the Fruit and Vegetable Arcade where many Amish farmers bring their produce to the market daily as they have for generations.
The market, which celebrated its centennial in 2012, first opened for business in 1840 across the street from its current location, as the Pearl Street Market. In 1912, the Market got a makeover and opened its doors at its current location. Since then the market, which is owned by Cleveland, has been designated a national landmark in 1973 and as one of “10 Great Public Places in America” by the American Planning Association in 2008 and celebrated 100 years since it welcomed its first shoppers.
I had the pleasure of visiting the market and taking in its delights during a trip to Cleveland. I even brought home a pork rub made by Chef Alexia Rodriguez, who co-owns the Pork Chop Shop with her life and business partner Emma Beno, at the Market to Super G as a part of her culinary weapons.
We’ve enjoyed the rub so much that I’ve instructed her to stop by the Pork Chop Shop and pick up more rubs while she’s in Cleveland for the Gay Games 9.
Super G and I love public markets, not just for the variety of foods that we sample as we walk around until we settle on what I want, but the people watching. Markets really tell a story about the community from the food to how vendors and customers interact with each other.
At the market, the best spot to watch Clevelanders is above it. Grab your lunch and walk up the stairwell at the West 25th Street side of the market to the balcony to get a view of all of the action.
Like many public markets, the market serves as a small business incubator. Many businesses in the area started at the market before outgrowing it and either moving to a new location nearby or simply adding other locations, such as Campbell’s Sweets Factory (2084 West 25th Street; 216-965-0451; CampbellsSweets.com). The popcorn and other treats shop remains in the market, but it also expanded out to a shop right down the street and a third in Lakewood.
The surrounding neighborhood also shouldn’t be missed. The neighborhood, which is quickly becoming known as the “Brewery District,” due to the multiple microbreweries that have cropped up in the historic district in recent years, is a popular destination near the west side of Cleveland.
Within a few blocks there is the Market Garden Brewery (1947 West 25th Street; 216-621-4000; MarketGardenBrewery.com) that also has a speakeasy space on the weekends, McNulty’s Bier Market (1948 West 25th Street; 216-274-1010; Bier-Markt.com), Nano Brew (1859 West 25th Street; 216-862-6631; NanoBrewCleveland.com), Great Lakes Brewing (2516 Market Avenue; 216-771-4404; GreatLakesBrewing.com/home).
The neighborhood is also home to the Food Channel’s 2011 Cupcake Wars winner Courtney Bonning, proprietor and pastry chef of Bon Bon Pastry & Café (2549 Lorain Avenue; 216-458-9225; BonBonCleveland.com) and the popular Flying Fig (2523 Market Avenue; 216-241-4243; firstname.lastname@example.org; TheFlyingFig.com).
Walking around the neighborhood and you might notice that many of the shops are new. Within the past five years, through an incredible initiative, many locally owned and small artsian shops that you can only find in Cleveland have transformed the neighborhood into a really hip place to be.
On Saturdays, grab a drink some food and even desert and head to the party.
Every Saturday is a party at the historic Market Square Park, located across the street from the Market, where live music, artists and vendors gather with the community for a festive affair.
What other way would you like to spend a Saturday in Cleveland?
THE DIRTY DISH
West Side Market, 1979 West 25th Street, Cleveland, Oh. 44113; 216-664-3387; WestSideMarket.org
TYPE OF RESTAURANT: Community Owned
RATING: 5 = midnight blue
(0 the worst – 5 is the best)
AMBIANCE: Energetic and vibrant marketplace.
SCENE: Be prepared to shop at the crowded – but friendly vendors and patrons – in the cramped stalls as you make your way through the Market.
NOISE LEVEL: The din of the Market noise is pleasant because it’s filled with friendly chatter and the sounds of vendors delivering products to their customers.
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Check out the Pork Chop Shop, but honestly there are so many amazing stalls in this Market I have to recommend the entire Market.
CHECK, PLEASE: $$ = $10 – $20
(price of average dinner/lunch/breakfast/brunch bill for an individual dinner)
THE EAT: It’s a Market. I loved the variety.
WORTH THE GOING OUT?: This was delicious!
To book your Cleveland vacation, contact Heather Cassell at Girls That Roam Travel at Travel Advisors of Los Gatos at 408-354-6531at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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