West Side Market

If all this talk of The Cleveland Flea has you in the mood for market adventures, a 10-minute drive over the bridge into Ohio City will bring you to the doorstep of Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned market, West Side Market.

If all this talk of The Cleveland Flea has you in the mood for market adventures, a 10-minute drive over the bridge into Ohio City will bring you to the doorstep of Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned market, West Side Market. It’s no wonder an estimated million people visit the market annually—spurred by love of good food and fresh ingredients, or by the many TV appearances the market has enjoyed on Food Network and the Travel channel.

You won’t have to search to find this behemoth which dates to 1870. (Look for the building with the 137-foot clock tower.) The main markethouse (1979 W. 25th St.) is nestled between boutiques and restaurants that have sprung up in the ever-evolving neighborhood.

From the moment you step inside you’ll be bombarded by food, food, food galore. I was almost overcome by the stalls and stalls of fresh produce alone, and it’s no wonder—market operators claim the produce is 30 percent cheaper than at grocery stores.

If you’re looking for a farm-to-table experience for the dinner table tonight, we at About recommend clicking over to our review of area farmers’ markets.

But for those seeking a veritable unmatched variety of vegetables, West Side has it in spades. More than 100 vendors of fruits, veggies, fine meats, seafood, baked goods, dairy and cheese products and fresh flowers await. And the majority are coming fresh from the growers and producers.

Can’t wait to dive in before you get home? No problem. There is many a booth selling ready-to-eat delicacies.

To that end, my first stop was Crepes de Luxe, located just inside the main markethouse. Famous for its Parisian-style crepes, it serves sweet (filled with everything from Nutella to fresh pears) and savory varieties. You can even create your own from a long list of ingredients, for nearly endless combinations.

But while the combinations are endless, my patience was not. My “Complete” savory crepe, with ham, egg and gruyere cheese, was worth the six bucks (if only every bite could be as good as the gooey finale), but not worth dealing with the surly operator and the 45-minute-long line.

West_SteamFor faster and friendlier eats, pop around the corner to Noodlecat for the steam bun of the day (for the uninitiated: Asian fusion goodies stuffed in Japanese white bread, served sandwich style).

The popular Public Square ramen eatery recently opened at the market, and the friendly operator served us a chipotle turkey and colby jack steam bun with sprouts, and a traditional BBQ pork bun.

My fellow patrons in line were purveyors from surrounding booths, which means we were in good company. Who knows where to buy the best food at the market better than those selling food at the market?

The good news: Neither portion left me fully sated, nor was it intended to. Which means that I could continue to traipse around the market in search of tastings.

The historic landmark has exquisite views and stunning architecture. Head up a set of out-of-the-way steps to a catwalk above the fray to eat and snap some photos.

The market is open year-round from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Nearby parking is free for patrons. Details at WestSideMarket.org.