We’re taking a break from writing about the colorful country of Morocco to share with you some American colors that made our hearts (and stomachs) skip a beat. After checking off a bucket list destination — the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — we saved a day or two to explore Cleveland, Ohio, with a must-do visit to West Side Market, the oldest indoor/outdoor market in the city. The trip solidified one of our long-held beliefs: there’s no better way to get to know a place than by visiting a market filled with local foods from the farms and kitchens nearby.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, West Side Market opened in 1912, dazzling visitors with its lofty ceiling of yellow brick, a wide concourse arrangement that houses over 100 vendors, and a 137-foot clock tower that dominates the area around it.
It’s estimated that over one million people visited West Side Market last year. We’re thrilled to be counted among the guests this year as the whole marked amazed us with colorful produce, unusual offerings, and artful displays.
Up first — fruits and veggies. (And if you don’t know passion fruit from figs, someone will patiently explain all. We know because we asked a lot of questions.)
Inside the main hall, the variety is endless. From bacon with flavorings you’ve never heard of to links and sticks of sausages. And yes, even chicken feet.
And Bert’s favorite, though, had to be this packed-with-goodness apple provolone stuffed tenderloin!
Baked breads were ready to purchase whole or sliced as were several varieties of fresh, homemade pasta.
And what could be wrong with a bagel topped like a pizza? Nothing we could find.
Sweets like French macarons had delectable names like Salted Caramel, Red Velvet Cake, Pistachio, and Dreamy Mango.
Cookies were big: you could hardly get your hand around them!
Pretzel sticks lay in waiting, covered in chocolate and nuts, drizzled with icing. To die for.
But I really wanted to try something I had never tasted: a perogi.
It was easy to find ready-to-cook perogies, but not the ones ready to eat. When I asked the perogi vendor where I could taste one, she suggested that we have breakfast in West Side Market Cafe, the restaurant in the back. Which we did. Immediately.
After ordering a plate of corned beef hash with an over-medium fried egg and crispy toast, I felt a little sheepish asking for a perogi on the side. But how else could I taste one? The waitress brought out two freshly cooked perogies so we could both try one.
One bite of a hot perogi — a tasty bit of fried dough wrapped around creamy potatoes — and I knew I could live in an area that served this on a regular basis. Carb heaven, perhaps. But soooo good.
If you live in the neighborhood, don’t take West Side Market for granted.
And if you’re a visitor, start your day here. Just be sure to bring along a cooler. You’ll want to take something — or a lot of things — home for later!
Do you have a favorite market you like to visit? If so, we’d love to hear where.
Other markets we love:
For more information:
West Side Market, 1979 West 25th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44113; westsidemarket.org
Open Year-round: Mondays and Wednesdays, 7 to 4; Fridays and Saturdays, 7 to 6; Sundays, 10 to 4; Closed Tuesdays and Thursdays.