While I know there’s a significant amount of Cleveland that I haven’t seen, the West Side Market is a place I could frequent over and over again. A foodie’s delight, a vegetarian’s nightmare (yes, there are pig heads for sale but I thought it best to exclude that particular photo from this post), this historic food hall literally has it all.
Rustbelt cities like Cleveland may not have burgeoning populations or idyllic weather (hardly), and yet if there’s one thing they do, it’s food. Name your foodie pleasure and you’ll find it at this Ohio City landmark. (Neat historical fact: Today Ohio City is one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods but for a time it was its own independent municipality until it was annexed by Cleveland in 1854, similar to what happened with the neighborhood of Montmartre in Paris.)
While Pittsburgh does have the immensely popular Strip District, complete with a bevy of ethnic and some unusual food stores, that’s just it, they’re stores, not a market. If push comes to shove, I would choose a massive food hall over a neighborhood of stores any day. There’s just something so incredibly awesome about being able to enter one set of doors and have a culinary world (so to speak) at your fingertips. And being in the usually cold Midwestern part of the United States, not always having to traipse outside is an added bonus.
I particularly love all of the “Old World” foods that are for sale at the Market. Along with various offerings from the British Isles, you will find a bevy of strudel options, probably the most available outside of Central Europe. I myself went with cheese strudel from a Hungarian vendor.
And even in a city like Cleveland which received thousands of European immigrants at the turn of the last century, the Latino influence is also making itself known there. I took home some tortilla chips and quesadillas from Orale Contemporary Mexican cuisine-delicioso.
The West Side Market is definitely the type of place that people of all ages would enjoy. I mean, you can’t go wrong with Ninja Turtle Oreo cookies for the little ones and I’m pretty adults will enjoy the prime rib stuffed olives and fine cheese bonanza.
If you tire of buying and sampling goods (I say if since I don’t know how it would be possible to do so), then take a look around you. The West Side Market is housed in an truly beautiful building, employing a combination of Byzantine and Neoclassical architecture. It’s also quite historic as the structure dates from 1912.
I mean, look at that ceiling! They don’t make them like they used to.
Although my visits to the market have always been around the holidays (two times right before Christmas, once on Fourth of July weekend), I think it’s safe to say that the market is most likely always mobbed with people. But one visit there and it’s easy to see why-your dollars support small, many family owned businesses, it’s one stop shopping (a separate building next door houses a slew of produce), and it truly is an attack on one’s senses in the most wonderful of ways (well, excluding the times when you literally have to push and shove your way through people in order to keep moving).
Believe me when I say that any visit I make to Cleveland will always include a stop at the West Side Market, preferably one where I leave with a multitude of purchases!
West Side Market
1979 West 25th Street Cleveland (it’s just across the Cuyahoga River from the downtown section)