Food markets are funny places to me. On one hand I think they are great spots, where you can buy direct from the farmers, butchers and families who are selling their products. On the other hand, they often have poor hours and prices are higher than your local supermarket.
In the end, you’re paying for freshness and getting to know the people who are behind the products you want to sell, so whether it is West Side Market in Cleveland or the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, they’re worth frequenting and supporting.
When I was in Cleveland I visited West Side Market after a big brunch meal at the West Side Market Cafe. Probably a smart thing as I wasn’t as tempted to stock up on sweets, treats and meats as I normally otherwise would be.
The market itself did remind me quite a bit of the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, but it had a little more structure to it. As a historic building, it is more than 100 years old and has served as an important food hub to the city of Cleveland for a long time. It has grown over the decades, and now has an outdoor area extension where the produce providers are located.
The Pork Chop Shop had some great chorizo, and I found the produce guys outside were all competitive and eager to let you sample their stuff, in hopes of a sale. The Cheese Shop and many other stalls indoors, in particular the sausages guys at Frank’s were also generous with offering up free samples to get you hooked.
If I lived in Cleveland and was having guests over for dinner, I’d likely stop by and grab some meats, cheeses or other tasty treats from the market. One thing I noticed was that there did not seem to be a lot of high quality shops serving up prepared foods. Sure, there were some sandwich and crepe options, but overall there wasn’t as much of the ready-to-eat options as I expected to find.
The area around the market was really nice to walk around too. Nearby restaurants and breweries make it an easy place to stop in for a few hours and spend half a day. One spot that did get me curious and wish that I had more time in Cleveland to do some cooking was the gnocchi place…I never knew there could be so many types of gnocchi, the pumpkin sage gnocchi sounded best to me.