Photo: Ariel Uribe / Chicago Tribune
A good farmers' market is more than just a collection of vendors. It’s a meeting ground, an educational space, an entertainment venue, and a grocery store all at once. It's where a community comes together over a mutual love of food. Everybody loves food. The fresher, the better.
Every summer, these beautiful little pockets of pastries and produce spring up throughout the city. But with so many markets in the city and surrounding neighborhoods, it can be hard to pick just one. Here are five standouts.
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.
South end of Lincoln Park, directly across the street from the Hotel Lincoln.
In 2011, the AARP named Green City Market one of the 12 must-see farmers' markets in the United States, and the event has been growing ever since. Green City currently has a lineup of over 60 food vendors. Every weekend, you can see chef demonstrations from some of the city’s finest, including Bruce Sherman (North Pond) and Pete Coenen (The Gage) in upcoming weeks.
Green City is known for its large selection, with many farm-to-table restaurants sourcing their ingredients from the market. Paul Virant is one such chef; his restaurant Perennial Virant (1800 N. Lincoln, 312-981-7070) is conveniently located across the street and he is a long-time supporter of the market.
"I do think the Green City Market is a chef-driven market," says Virant, "which is nice, because regular folks have access to spring garlic and Italian greens like spigarello—things that you're not going to see at the store."
Sundays, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Logan Boulevard from Milwaukee Avenue to Whipple Street
This sizeable neighborhood market teems with activity. Visitors can learn about Logan Square at the community tent, which spotlights a different organization each week. The rickshaw bike company Roadiecab offers rides from the market. If you’re the kind of person who does sun salutations before making a big decisions about zucchini, bring a mat and participate in the free yoga class. For kids, there’s a Budding Farmers' program that combines educational material with art projects and recipes.
Oh yeah, and there’s food. Fifty food vendors already line the streets every Sunday, and there are more scheduled to appear throughout the summer. Try Chicago Diner's little meatless meatball sandwiches.
Wednesdays, 3 p.m. – 8 p.m.
On Berwyn between Clark and Ashland
Accepts Link/debit/credit cards
With eight produce vendors, four bakeries (one gluten-free) and a natural, free range meat vendor, it’s a good bet you’ll find all the items on your shopping list here. While you’re waiting for your knives to be sharpened, stop by the entertainment stand that features local musicians. This is where you can find that booth with heirloom produce we were talking about. And don’t forget the fresh cut flowers; they’ll be perfect as the centerpiece of your farm-to-table feast later on.
Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
131 N. Clinton St. Accepts debit/credit cards.
We just couldn’t leave this year-round, indoor market of local food and artisans off the list. Although more of a food hall rather than a traditional outdoor market, this collection of 30 vendors has become one of the city’s top food destinations.
Stop by FliP Crêpes or grab a cone of Belgian fries at Frietkoten for an on-the-go snack. For a full meal, sample RAW.’s vegan chili croquettes or some barbecue from Lillie’s Q. Even if you’re itching to get outside, take a moment to stop by—with a large selection of cheese, meat and produce, a morning spent at the French Market can easily turn into an enjoyable afternoon of outdoor picnicking.
Saturdays 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave. Accepts LINK cards, no debit/credit
It’s worth venturing up to North Shore for this market of more than 50 vendors. Visitors looking for a hands-on experience will enjoy this summer’s free canning workshop that features take-home samples and raffled items; June’s classes will focus on jellies and jams, July is all about salsa, and August will go through the instructions of pickling.
The educational organization Friends of Evanston Farmers' Markets also holds programs at its tent, such as a recent travelling bee exhibition that will be back in August. The market recognizes Evanston’s large population of artists with the Homegrown Artists program, an area of the market that sells local artwork on select Saturdays.
Keep an eye out for: bacon and bourbon baklava from Sheekar Delights, snack-size empanadas and meatballs from Foodie Bites, and aged cheddar from Brunkow Cheese, one of the oldest cheese factories in Wisconsin.