No summer Saturday (or Wednesday) morning is complete for me without a trip to the Green City Market in Lincoln Park. The Market is open from 7am to 1pm on Saturdays and Wednesdays from May to October. Located at the south end of the Park at Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1790 N. Clark), it’s most easily accessed by taking the number 22 bus north from downtown. There is no admission, and most vendors take cash only.
It’s not a typical tourist attraction, but I think it provides visitors with a better look at life in Chicago….and the opportunity to nibble on tasty treats all morning long. Come for a low-cost meal or snack, or to stock up for the perfect summer picnic.
Wandering around the market can be overwhelming, and navigating the maze of vendors serving flowers, produce, herbs, eggs and milk can be difficult when you’re on a mission for ready-to-eat items. To help you plan your outing, here is a list of what samples and snacks to look for at the Green City Market.
Cheese, cheese, and more cheese
On a given day, you may find anywhere from three to five or six different cheese vendors at the market. Capriole, from Southern Indiana, only makes an appearance a few times a month, but the creamy hand-made goat cheese is work seeking out. You can’t miss Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin – just look for the crowd gathers and follow your nose to the faint smell of smoke. Here you’ll find not only hard and soft cheeses and creamy cheese spreads, but also their signature Brun-uusto, a Finnish-style baked cheese that is heated over a flame until crispy on the outside and buttery and melty on the inside.
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Bennison’s, which has been in Chicago since the 1930’s, is one of the few bakeries in the country to employ two Certified Master Bakers, the highest level a baker can achieve. The baguettes are perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Grab one, or a few rolls or focaccia for a sandwich or try some monkey bread, fruit scones or danish for a sweet treat. Or if crackers are more your style, swing by Potter’s Crackers for honey graham, rye, or onion flavored crispy crackers.
$5 at the Zullo’s tent will get your a piping hot, fresh from the fryer, scoop of sugar-dusted Italian donuts served in a paper cone. They also serve up huge slices of meat and veggie-topped foccacia slices and pannini filled with market ingredients like eggs, mushrooms, ham, or herbs.
If you need a bigger meal to fill out, head to the Sunday Dinner booth, where you can get hearty burgers and sausages, flatbreads topped with ingredients like onion and sausage, and fruit smoothies.
If crepes are on your agenda and you’re on a tight schedule, make a beeline for the Abbey’s Crepes stand (just look for the biggest crowd) and place you order. Crepes can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes or more, depending on how busy they are. Order plain with sugar and butter, fruit, or cheese and herbs, and then wander around the rest of the market until the crepe is made. The paper-thin crepes and fresh toppings are worth the wait.
Stock your picnic basket with dessert at Floriole, which sells tasty bites like Pecan sticky buns, banana bread, scones, cookies or tarts. Hoosier Mama Pie Company also offers slices of its famous pie, in varieties like strawberry rhubarb, maple pecan, coconut custard, key lime, and chocolate cream.