6 Favorite Spots at Cleveland’s West Side Market
My kids each have favorite finds at Cleveland’s West Side Market, an indoor/outdoor food mecca that boasts about 100 vendors selling everything from fresh blackberries to spicy beef jerky.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the market so I thought I’d share some of my favorite food vendors there. Although I haven’t yet visited all of the booths—and we do try to visit a new place each time we go—these are my top finds.
You can download a map so that you won’t get lost when you visit. Then again, getting lost has its advantages—new discoveries.
What to buy: ravioli, yummy sauces & specialty butters
We usually buy a couple different kinds of ravioli along with one carton of sauce to make a meal at home. My kids love the asiago cheese-stuffed ravioli with the lobster cream sauce. There are also daily specials. The walnut butter was a hit, but the cilantro-lime linguine (my choice) wasn’t so tasty.
What to buy: monk cake, pecan rolls
Monk cake is a West Side Market original. Chocolate cake with layers of mouse and raspberry filling are enveloped by a thick piece of chocolate. There are two bakeries that happen to be right next to each other that both sell monk cake. Cake Royale, created it, but
Theresa’s offers it too. I’m partial to Theresa’s version since it’s denser and less sweet than Cake Royale’s but I’m holding out a final verdict until I’m sampled it a few more times;) Maybe I also favor Theresa’s since I’m addicted to their pecan rolls.
What to buy: the best brats. ever.
I don’t like brats, really. Mr. Squid tried to get me to try Frank’s, but I wouldn’t budge until someone walked by me eating one and it smelled…heavenly. The folks at Frank’s make the brats using ground veal and then flash fry them before cooking. The result is a crispy brat outside and a moist, smooth inside. When they ask, make sure to get the hard roll versus the soft and even though the
sauerkraut is good, I’d stick with just the meat and the roll to get the full flavor.
What to buy: beef jerky, bacon, whatever’s on sale
My tween actually saves her allowance to spend on homemade beef jerky at J+J. The little mom-and-pop shop has been busy since it was featured in The Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” as Iron Chef Michael Symon’s pick. The folks who own J+J also own another food booth with the same offerings, Czuchraj.
What to buy: gyros
You have to get in line at Steve’s before about 11:15 a.m. to avoid the lunch crowd. And I mean crowd. And there are rules to Steve’s line. No cutting. No holding a place for someone else. No ordering more than one extra sandwich per person. Yeah, it’s that good. This booth solidified its fame in an episode of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food. I’ve eaten gyros off the street in Greece–these are better. Maybe it’s the mounds of meat that have been basting on the vertical spit all day or the warm, fresh pitas, or the creamy yogurt sauce. Whatever it is, a stop at Steve’s is a must (a regular sandwich IMHO will easily feed two people).
What to buy: sweet or savory crepes
Looking for a vegetarian meal? Or maybe something sweet that’s not too heavy? That’s when I head to Crepes De Luxe. Whether you choose a savory a crepe that’s piled with veggies and cheese or a dessert one filled with fresh fruit or Nutella (or both!), these huge crepes are folded so they’re easy to eat while you meander through the market. And each one is made right in front of you.
*If you go to the West Side Market (and you should) it’s open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday during the day. Check the website for hours and where to park. Keep in mind that some vendors are open different times than others.