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Whole Foods in Lincoln Park - Where do you shop and why?

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Perhaps I was spoiled by having orignally shopped at the WFs on North Ave. but the couple of times I've shopped at the one on Ashland, it just feels funny.
The aisles are all wrong, too short, strange order? Have any other hounds experienced this? I will say, however, that the multi-pierced twenty-somethings that stock and cashier and work the fish and deli counters are about the nicest people I've ever met working in a "supermarket" environment.

Since I'm in Ravenswood my choices aren't too limited. Jewel, if nec., Shop and Save if craving some neighborhood and on-the-cheap and a few Mexican grocery stores, but these are becoming endangered by the gentrification of the area. I'm close to the Middle Eastern store on Foster and Clark - a hop skip and a bus ride.

So it's a multi-question. Where do you shop and why?

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  1. I live in Rogers Park near the lake, and have no car. For me, it all just plain depends on (a) what it is I intend to cook, and (b) the budget, and sometimes (c) convenience/comfort/safety. If fish is on the menu, I generally get it at Treasure Island near the Clark and Division stop by way of the 'L' on the way north from my work in the Loop. (I don't trust the fish at Jewel or Dominick's. Call me fussy!) The produce is often superb there, but more pricey than necessary; ditto for meats and wines.

    Whole Foods in Evanston is easily accessible via CTA, and that's an alternate produce-and-herb source for me. (Plus: Barnes and Noble and Borders outlets immediately nearby! Book browsing!) Again, though...the prices make this place somewhat of a luxury.

    Directly west of my home base on Morse Avenue, just a half block west of the 'L' tracks, is the North Star Market; produce can be very nice, prices are much better, and lots of Hispanic/some other ethnic foodstuffs are available there. Beef and pork products are okay there, but the poultry is chancey and such fish as they have is just plain dangerous, in my experience.

    1. Living in West Rogers Park, we're near a wide range of great shops. But for produce, everything ethnic from asian to eastern european to latin-american and others, the wonderfully inexpensive breadth of products at the Lincolnwood Produce market on Touhy and Lincoln is incomparable. They've always have a had great deli (about 6 kinds of fresh feta) and have also expanded to offer meats, which look pretty good to this untrained eye.

      The store is a former Jewel, so imagine a supermarket primarily becoming a greengrocer.

      Just east on Touhy, but not sharing the same parking lot, is Rolf's Patisserie, with buttery croissants and perfect baguettes.

      If you don't have a car, hop on the 290 Touhy PACE bus at the Howard terminal or along Touhy. It will let you off in front of Lincolnwood Produce.

      Not on this bus line, but north to Dempster, just west of McCormick, you'll find E&M Fancy Foods. You can disregard the flowery name. This is a butcher shop where 4 or 5 expert butchers will trim the beautiful meats they offer. Not cheap, but not as expensive as you fear. They have a neat selection of frozen products, including duck breasts, demi glace and their home made soups. Across the street is Breadsmith for another fine selection of artisan breads. This place is Kosher, so it's not open on Saturdays at all.

      For special seafood, we hop in the and motor to Plaza Del Lago in Wilmette to shop at the Burhop's there. Great store. And in the same plaza is Convito Italiano.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Joe Penkrot

        Hey Joe
        Is E & M fancy foods still open? I can't get an exact address on this place. I hear about it, but can't find it.

      2. I forswore the Whole Foods on North Ave. unless I am planning a special cheese blowout. The store may be good, but the whole experience is so unpleasant. I've gotten used to the one on Ashland, and you can actually stop in to pick up a couple things on your way home from work and not have it take an hour.

        I am just on the other side of the river from Ravenswood--where is Shop and Save? I use Chicago Fruit Market on Montrose/Whipple (Albany) for produce, also impeccably fresh pita bread, latino canned goods, middle eastern and balkan products, including jams and relishes. They have bulk anchovies, a couple kinds of olives, several fetas including the wonderful creamy Hungarian one Javad serves at Noon-o-Kebab. I got a jar of something called "chunky relish" there a couple weeks ago that was phenomenal--slow-cooked red peppers, just the essence of pepper. From the balkans.

        The produce there is extremely cheap and you need to buy what looks good, not plan what you want. They do have nice things like almost always fresh mint, dill, and epazote, and special surprises in season, like fresh garbanzo beans.

        For fish and (sometimes) meat, I will stick with Whole Foods. Fish I will get at Isaacson & Stein, but less so now that I'm tied down 9-5. I sometimes find shrimp that is very nice and nicely priced at a Supermercado on Lawrence a couple blocks east of Kedzie called Lindo Michoacan (east being the operative word here, you can get out without having to deal with Lawrence/Kedzie intersection). We're not huge meat eaters, so for special occasions I will go to a butcher, sometimes Paulina Market for convenience, or Bari Foods on Grand/May. For lamb, always Devon Ave., either Noor Meat Market or Bismallah. Last spring I got a baby lamb (actually, half a baby lamb) at Bismallah that was out of this world. Having been warned by one niece that my 13-year-old niece was sometimes "funny" about meat she had seen raw, I was totally prepared for her asking at the table if it was really a baby lamb. I just looked at her and said, about your age. She ate her share. Noor Meat Market also has organic chickens, whole for $1.49 lb last time I was in, also leg/thigh (can't remember price) and boneless breasts for $3.99 lb. Also they advertise halal quail, which I'm intrigued by. I've been meaning to try the live poultry place on Western just north of Devon (e. side of street) but just haven't made it in yet.

        1. We're just north of you in West Andersonville (oh, the world of realty-sponsored neighborhood names).

          Weekly we hit the Edgewater Produce Market at 5509 N Clark St (Clark and Gregory) for produce and Mexican goods. It's really fresh, good quality stuff. We then pop across the street to the Jewel for stock supplies (canned goods, etc.) We'll also usually tackle the Whole Foods on Ashland (which I think is just fine, and you're right, the tatooed, pierced staff is delightful) for more specialty items and cheeses, and any produce we want that couldn't be obtained at the Edgewater market--blood oranges for instance.

          We're not big meat eaters either, but when we do wax carniverous, we go to the People's Market in Evanston. The opposite staff experience to the Whole Foods (not knowledgeable nor particularly friendly), but the meats and fish there are all very good. Organic Bell & Evans chicken (not too pricey either), organic pork, etc. All processed well & healthily--believe me, I've researched this--and the animals have lived a far better life than I have. It's worth it to me to have good quality meat. If we're going to splurge, or need goose confit or rabbits, we go to the Paulina Meat Market. We also sometimes stop off at the Treasure Island in Lakeview on Broadway for cheese, olives, or to satisfy strange tastes I developed when living in the UK (people gasp when I load English pickle onto Cheddar cheese sandwiches).

          Also, we usually make a weekly stop in at the Middle Eastern Grocery on Foster for spinach pies, calamata olives, feta, and figs when they're in season, and we stop at the Thai Grocery on Broadway and Argyle every other week or so for great Asian produce, noodles, soy sauces, etc.

          I think that sums it up. In summers, of course, it's always Saturday morning at the farmers market in Evanston, and I work not to far from the one downtown on Tuesdays, so those days (and sometimes Thursdays) I tick off fellow brown-line commuters by not allowing people to get too close to the copious bags of tomatoes I'm porting home.

          1. I usually shop at Whole Foods and am quite partial to the one on North Avenue. Having been to the one on Ashland, Gold Coast, and River Forest and have found them all lacking in depth in comparison to North Ave. I did shop once at the new Deerfield Store and found that to be pretty good.

            Trader Joes is a stop about once a month for fish and a few other things I like there. See post below.

            In the summer Saturday Mornings are spent at the Farmers Market on Division.

            What I love to do is when in different neighborhoods, note nothing planned, we're there for dinner or something and I find interesting stores I shop. Have been to Caputos this way and of course groceries in Chinatown or on Argyle for Oriental ingredients, Mexican food at the Maxwell Market etc.

            Used to get produce at Stanleys, good prices but I find that they are too ripe and don't last through the week.

            Sometimes if I'm in the mood for deli I'll stop at the Vienna outlet on Elston and Damen.

            But the real fun is finding a store, walking around and finding unusual ingredients that I wouldn't normally try. The problem with this is if I like it is going back to get them.

            1. Gosh, when I think about it, I really run around...

              I live in Ukranian Village, so I frequent a few of the local places. I go to Edmar, on Chicago, if its an emergency. [There's usually one emergeny per day. Like, running out of toilet paper, ice, or milk.] I also can't pass up 15 limes for a buck. I shop at Jalisco, on Chicago, for Mexican staples. If I need something like epazote or dried chiles I'll run up to Jiminez, on Western. I shop at Rich's Delicatessen, on Western, for Polish staples. They have good pickles, meats, herring, cheeses and beer. Same goes for the Ukranian Village Grocery Store, on Chicago. I get my vodka there, too. [Hey, I'm a Pole.] I get my rye bread at Ann's Bakery, on Chicago. I'll hit the Jewel on Ashland if I need bourbon, detergent, or 6 rolls of paper towels.

              Further afield, I'll go to Whole Foods, on North. I get some of my meat, seafood and cheese, there. Basically, I find Whole Foods creepy, so my visits are infrequent. I prefer to shop at Treasure Island, on Clybourn. I like the produce there, and I always end up buying alot of imported goods. Pastas, Pomi tomatos, olive oils, tinned tuna, etc. I'll stop in at Burhop's, for seafood, if its convenient. For custom meat orders, I rely on Gepperth's. I also go to Paulina for beef, sausages and the like.
              I cook alot of Asian food, so I head up to Argyle alot. [I don't even know the name of the market, but its on the south side of the street, in the second to last block before Sheridan.] I get seafood, rice and vegetables there, mostly. For other Asian items, I head to Chicago Food Corp., on Kimball.
              Sam's is my spot for wine. Occasionally, I'll pick something up from their cheese counter. Or, perhaps, some import item like French green lentils.

              That's the most of it.
              Good question.

              Erik M.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Erik M.

                I have to agree about Whole Foods - it is kind of creepy. However I think it became creepy over time. When they first arrived, the individual stores seemed to have some autonomy and were able to source produce from small local growers. WF allowed me to support small progressive farmers in Wisconsin or Michigan. Then, I believe, the policy changed and every WF had to have identical products from suppliers large enough to handle the whole chain.

                On top of that, I think their policy of pricing non-organic, non-exceptional items (e.g. conventionally grown Mexican cucumbers or parchment paper) at 30-50% over regular supermarket prices to be really offensive.

                Still, I go there for the things I can't find elsewhere, though I still try to get to T.I. on Broadway instead. Core shopping I do at the Dominick's near my house for reasons of convenience only. I buy as much as I can at the Asian market on Argyle.

                Many former favorite spots have closed and not been replaced: Rynan's bakery, Myers' delicatessen.

                I would shop at Conte di Savoia a lot if I could only get there. (We're carless in Uptown.) There's a Mexican market on Clark in the vicinity of Bryn Mawr whose name I don't know. And the Middle East Bakery. And occasional excursions to the Indian shops on Devon Ave.

                That's our list.

                1. re: mark
                  Vital Information

                  Mark, is Meyer's in Lincoln Square really closed? What a shame!


                  where in uptown do you live? How come you have not posted more on uptown spots...

                  1. re: Vital Information

                    Meyers is going strong. My danish neighbors goes weekly for her brot and I saw her coming in last week with some.

                    1. re: annieb

                      I do recall that there used to be a second meyers further south on Lincoln in the Roscoe Village/Lakeview area. That one has been closed for a while. But it's still alive and doing very robust business in Lincoln Square.

                      1. re: sc

                        I was worried there for a while. Delicatessen Meyer, at 4750 N Lincoln, is definitely open for business though they have cut back their hours a bit. They now close at 7pm instead of 9pm (5pm on Sunday).

                        Inge’s Deli, a few doors south of Meyer’s, seems to have gone out of business.

                        From what I understand the other Meyer’s, on Lincoln around Belmont, was never affiliated with the one in Lincoln Square.

                      2. re: annieb

                        Please let me know what your hours are.
                        Also directions coming off Lake Shore Drive.

                        1. re: Tish Kaatz

                          I don't work there. You can find them in the phonebook, they're in the 4700 block of N. Lincoln.

                2. I have been going to Trader Joes for a long time and still find the quality better and the prices very good. The mark-up on many products seems more than fair. Dairy items as well as organic milk, cage free eggs and the wonderful cheese like the italian truffle cheese that I put in my omelettes all have much better prices than Whole Paycheck.

                  1. Food shopping is one of the best reasons for living in Chicago. No car, but my shopping cart and I accept all challenges. I split my staples between Jewel and Treasure, depending on what's on sale where; produce usually at Treasure. WholeFoods for fish and shellfish. Dominicks for beef roast on sale, which I have ground while I stand there since even WholeFoods got shut down for salmonella in the hamburger. Trader Joe's for frozen fruit (which I use a lot of), frozen fish, some produce, certain shelf items that I like, and wine. Middle Eastern Grocery for olives, bulgur, pita. Edgewater Produce for whatever looks good. Al Khayam for pickles and vine leaves; Andy's across the street for produce and interesting Balkan items. Devon Avenue for spices at Patel's and produce at the place with the green awning. Dinkels and Swedish for bakery. Tony's Finer Foods for Goya Decaf Coffee, produce, frozen empanada dough, frozen guava nectar concentrate (better than canned). Division Street Saturday market for tomatoes, corn, peaches, zucchini, eggplant---and lilies from the lily lady.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Querencia

                      Hey Querencia
                      Do you know of any E & M fancy foods (butcher shop) in Evanston or Skokie? I can't get an exact address on this place. Can you provide me with the street it is located on.

                      1. re: ZkeriZ

                        E & M is (was?) at Dempster & Kimball in Skokie. Can't say whether it's still there or not, but that's the location.

                        1. re: ferret

                          No that one is no longer there. It moved somewhere in evanston but don't know where.