“Clevelanders love the West Side Market like that loud, colorful great aunt who has ties to the Old Country. She’s brash, one-of-a-kind, completely unapologetic and the absolute best to show off to your friends!“
The quote above, from a website about “Things to do in Cleveland”, is a great introduction to this unique market, one of the best places for locals to do their weekly shopping and at the same time introduce one of our city’s jewels to their out-of-town guests. When Gretchen and Alec were visiting in July, we took them to this 100-year-old market on West 25th Street in Cleveland. Although it may seem strange to non-Clevelanders, we lived in the eastern suburbs-east of the Cuyahoga River-for many years before venturing across the river to check out the market. Don’t get me wrong. I had been to the west side many times over the years. I actually like the west side, but I had never been to this historic market, not until our daughter Alison invited me to go with her and Emmy a couple of years ago. Now I can’t believe I didn’t go sooner…much sooner. It is a fantastic place to find food of all kinds, a truly multi-cultural experience, and great fun.Once inside the market, it is easy to be overwhelmed by its size, the hustle and bustle of the crowd, and the tasty foods on display up and down every aisle. Take a look at this gallery to see what I mean. This is definitely one time when pictures will speak louder than words.
Another feature that attracts repeat customers to the market is the vendors themselves. Their work is hard. Rising early, sometimes before dawn, in order to reach the city and set up their displays before the market opens, they work long hours. Many of the market’s stands have been run by the same families for multiple generations. They are well-known and respected by their customers, which is why so many people return again and again, week-after-week, to do their shopping here. And like the foods they sell, the venders, themselves, are varied, and, although they must work long hours, it would be unusual to encounter one who isn’t helpful and courteous. In taking the pictures for this blog, I try to get permission from the vendors I photograph, a smile or a thumbs-up signal, to let me know it’s okay to snap the picture. Some are busily engaged with serving their customers, and don’t even notice me, but those who see me will usually take a few moments to pose for the camera. Take a look and see what I mean.
If you are fortunate enough to be in Cleveland some week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday when the market is open, make sure you set aside a few hours for a visit to the Westside Market. You may even want to plan for lunch or a snack break while you are there, and, if you are smart (and hungry), you will leave with your dinner in your hands, as well as enough fresh fruit, produce, and delicious baked good to last through the week. The Westside Market has been named “Best Food Lover’s Market” by Food Network Magazine, so you are sure to find your visit worthwhile and will soon be making plans to return for another visit.
Thanks for joining me for this photowalk. I hope it made you hungry!
Carolyn aka Skip