The West Side Market, at the edge of Ohio City in Cleveland, is a cultural and culinary gem. Opened in 1912, the market combines graceful Neo-Classical/Byzantine architecture with a vibrant produce and meat, poultry, and dairy market. Not only is the West Side Market an interesting and fun place to visit, it's a great place to find quality groceries at affordable prices.
History and Architecture
The 100-year-old (in 2012) West Side Market consists of an indoor market with its distinctive clock tower and an adjacent semi-enclosed "outdoor" market, filled with produce, grain, and fresh flower vendors.The West Side Market, originally created as a neighborhood ethnic market still fulfills that function as well as a fascinating day trip destination for suburbanites and those visiting the city.
Inside the market, make sure to note the original quarry tile flooring as well as the decorative corbels, depicting animals and vegetables, on the market's columns. Also distinctive is the 44-foot high vaulted ceiling with its rich terracotta tile, placed in a herringbone design.
The outdoor market features dozens of vendors offering fresh seasonal produce, such as tomatoes, peppers, corn in season, oranges, and lemons. You can also usually find large sacks of onions and potatoes as well as fresh flowers. Prices for produce tend to be much lower than in the grocery stores and the items are usually much fresher.
The indoor market features meat and poultry vendors as well as those selling cheeses, dairy products, and bakery items. It is here that the ethnic character of the market really shines. Items for sale here include Amish chickens, fresh Hungarian sausage, freshly cut steaks and pork chops, strudels, and hard and soft cheeses.
Ohio City Pasta sells their homemade pasta here; the Cheese Shop offers more than 140 different kinds of cheese, and there's an adjacent fish market with all varieties of fresh fish and seafood. Prices here are generally attractive.
Restaurants and Prepared Food Stands
If all this food shopping is making you hungry, there are stands offering prepared foods throughout the market.
Particularly good is the bratwurst stand in the northwest corner. You'll also find hot dogs, hot pretzels, pierogi, and more. If you prefer to sit down, there's a short order restaurant with delicious sandwiches and breakfasts on the W. 25th St. side of the market.
Around the Neighborhood
The area surrounding the West Side Market is filled with other interesting ethnic food markets. Adjacent to the market is an Arabic food store, filled with grains, spices, and delicious pastries. Just down the road is Hansa Import Haus, an emporium of German meats, jams, jellies and other packaged foods.