Whether you’re hankering for a hot dog or gyros, exotic cheeses, a hot donut or fresh-ground peanut butter, head for the West Side Market, a Cleveland institution that celebrated its centennial in 2012.
The European-style market, architecturally distinguished by its vaulted, tiled ceiling and landmark clock tower, is a favorite with tour groups and Cleveland residents. More than 100 tenants sell everything from meats and fish to spices, nuts and baked goods. Many stalls have remained under individual family control for much of the life of the market—a few dating back to its 1912 opening. Just outside the historic building is the fruit and vegetable arcade.
An estimated one million visitors from all around the world shop the market every year, drawn by television programs on the Travel Channel and Food Network.
The West Side Market’s beginnings date back to 1840 when Pearl Street Market occupied the current site of Market Square Park, across from the market’s present location at West 25th and Lorain in Ohio City, a neighborhood southwest of downtown.
With its Old World charm, the market makes a great lunch and shopping stop for groups. Reflecting Cleveland’s ethnic diversity, it offers a variety of tempting prepared foods, from Polish pierogis to Cambodian, Mexican and Middle Eastern specialties. At Frickaccio’s Pizza Market you can pick up all kinds of pizza supplies, including frozen dough, as well as hot pizza, toasted subs and pepperoni rolls.
For dessert, grab a fresh apple fritter at K & K Bakery, or try a cupcake at Grandma Freda’s, where varieties include peanut butter and jelly, mint Oreo and chai.
The health-minded flock to the Juice Garden for wheat grass or fresh pineapple-carrot juice. Across the way, sample the fun flavors at Campbell’s popcorn shop, where choices range from parmesan-garlic to banana split.
Many vendors offer free samples, or your group can eat its way through the market with Taste Cleveland Food Tours and meet the colorful entrepreneurs at the same time. (tasteclevelandfoodtours.com)
A public market, the West Side Market is operated by the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Properties. It’s open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. (westsidemarket.com)