Museums are fun, but sometimes you need a little variety when traveling. On our last official day, we decided to take a morning stroll to Cleveland’s oldest indoor and outdoor public market, West Side Market. But it wasn’t always called the West Side Market; it had a different name back the mid-1800s to early 1900s. Two former businessmen, Josiah Barner and Richard Lord, donated land to open this famous market back in 1840. First located on the corner of West 25th (now known as Pearl), the open outdoor market had a one-story building added to the site in 1868, which was then named Pearl Street Market. But the market quickly outgrew its space, so land was purchased on the other side of the street, which is the the space everyone now calls West Side Market.
Once we entered the main building, I felt like I was taken back to a different time. People used their smartphones to take photos, text to loved ones, and contact friends, but the Gustavino-tiled building felt uniquely old and worldly. The herringbone styled tiling in a dome-shape offered structural security and patterned beauty – two things I am very fond of when looking at architecture. The high dome-like ceilings offered refuge from the weather, which makes it perfect for those hot days or cold fall nights.
We arrived closer to brunch, so we opted to look for stands that offered coffee, juice, and donuts. However, each vendor sold those food items separately. (No one-stop Starbucks here.) We bought a donut at one, juice at another, and coffee was skipped at the third stall. It wasn’t the most conducive environment for a sit down diner until Prof found one.
(Photo Above: Coffee Shop)
(Photo Above: Sprinkled donuts at an artisan bakery shop)
West Side Market Cafe
If you’re going to be busy grocery shopping, why not stop by for a sit down breakfast? We sat down at this historic restaurant filled with original black and white photographs and posters of the West Side Market in the olden days. The style of clothing, the open outdoor market, and people interacting with one another was another reminder of Cleveland’s past. Men and women wore hats with flair and pizazz, while they perused for the freshest fresh fruits, vegetables available of the day.
It was difficult to choose from the menu which scrumptious breakfast foods to partake that morning, but we ordered some good ole’ favorites. When the food arrived, we devoured our plates of home cooked scrambled eggs, a southwestern styled omelet, and side order of eggs and potatoes. Delish!
Markets Open for Business
With over a 100 business stalls, many are still owned and operated under the original family business. The place was packed before we got there, and the crowds didn’t let up after breakfast. There was so much to see. If we weren’t going to go camping after our West Side Market run, we would have bought more items to try back home.
Mexican, Asian, and Other Ethnic Cuisines
If you’re looking for more a flavorful affair, you can also find delectable ethnic cuisines from a variety of cultures. We typically don’t see tamales in the Midwest, something Prof and I enjoy eating back in Texas and California. We couldn’t resist the idea of taking some tamales on our first family camping trip, so we purchased four individually wrapped tamales to consume at Cuyahoga National Park later that afternoon.
(Photo Above: Tamales)
Noodlecat is a Japanese-American fusion restaurant that recently opened up a stall at West Side Market. The restaurant offered fresh ramen noodles that could be purchased and taken home for a homemade meal. I am sure our boys would have loved homemade ramen noodles, better than the prepackaged stuff bought for our camping trip. Next time, Noodlecat, we will have to try your version of ramen…yum.
(Photo Above: For those of you die hard UT Longhorn fans, there’s a huge longhorn on display at Foster’s Meats.)
(Photo Above: Beef)
I don’t know if you can get meat fresher than this:
(Photo Above: Fresh Pork with a pig’s head on display.)
(Photo Above: Fresh Chicken)
Fresh Breads and Pasta
If we lived in Cleveland, this would be one of my weekly grocery stops. Fresh homemade artisan breads and sweet loaves would satiate my sweet tooth.
(Photo Above: Homemade butternut loaf and other fragrant breads)
This is not the kind of pasta you’d find in your local grocery aisle. Squid ink pasta, chipotle pasta, spinach pasta are prominently featured here, as the colors of the pasta pop out from the display. There are also the usual suspects like fettucini, linguini, and whole wheat pasta, offering a more flavorful and almost ready to eat look.
(Photo Above: Homemade pasta!)
Delicious Treats and Sweets
Our kids weren’t eyeing the healthy stuff, as everything was at their level. Piano Man asked to try a candied apple, but I told him that his teeth couldn’t handle the crunch or mess. I don’t know if he believed me, but he moved onto the next stall willingly.
And apparently, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (sugar wrapped in an Oreo cookie) and Despicable Me Minions (sugar wrapped in marshmallows) are a popular choice among the smallest of market visitors. The high quality traditional chocolate covered pretzels don’t make the cut this time. TMNT cookies won our boys over.
And if you’re not allergic to nuts, then the P-Nut Gallery would be an excellent choice to try a variety of flavored, salted, and unsalted nuts.
If we ever visit Cleveland again, we’ll make sure to include the West Side Market on our last day before heading home. Oh and we’ll be sure to pack a huge ice chest to take those lovely Cleveland-based groceries home. Now that we’ve got our tamales for our first camping trip packed and ready to go, we’ll share our first family camping trip ever! Stay tuned!
TRAVEL: Cleveland Museum of Art
TRAVEL: Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland
TRAVEL: Cleveland’s Steamship William G. Mather
TRAVEL: Chagrin Falls, Home of Calvin and Hobbes & Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream