specialty food stores
I'm trying to find a couple cool food stores in the Chicago area to visit on a day off. Nothing in particular, just something a little different, mahybe wild game, specialty ethinic, or whatever you've found that's cool. Any thoughts?
...it's at the intersection of Argyle and Broadway, on the west side of Broadway. Just a hole in the wall, but THE most fun place to shop at ever. I've never seen more brands of fish sauce in one place. Don't forget to pick up some frozen kaffir lime leaves!
A big bonus: one of the best Thai places in Chicago, Thai Avenue, is right across the street. Fortify yourself there.
I'd still rec you check out Argyle Street anyways. I like Mitsuwa, but I do find Argyle a little more authentic an experience - more like wandering around a cool neighborhood - whereas to me Mitsuwa has a bit more of that "supermarket" feel to it.
For Italian, I'd recommend Bari Foods on Grand or Conte de Savoia on Taylor for Italian... as well, Harlem Ave bw Belmont and Irving Park.
I'd think you'd find Mexican over in Pilsen, but perhaps someone else can recommend specific storefronts.
my favorite place to go is Devon Ave. (around 2600) there you will tons of Pakistani, Indian, and even some Mexican stores. The Indian food cannot be beat in the snack shops, and you can go to Patel Brothers for a great selection of Indian ingredients. The frozen naan is actually pretty good, and the canned mango pulp has to be one of the most versatile ingredients I have ever used.
I also second the suggestion of going to Bobak's (5275 S Archer Ave), and I think there is a location on the South Side as well. AMazing smoked sausages and great meat selection (Hungarin Hot Salami truly changed my life) as well as tons of Polish ingredients.
If you are looking for just some fun store to poke around in, Trotters to go ( 1337 W. Fullerton Ave.)in Lincoln Park is great. Part mini gourmet grocery, part Wine store, and the best gourmet takeout food you have ever eaten.
I also dig Northwestern Cutlery ( 810 W Lake St), a tiny tiny place that has tons of knives and cooking equipment shoved into a small space, but a great selection. Really a food lover's paradise. And if you can get out there, there is some great Ethiopian food on Broadway, and my favorite place is Ethiopian Diamond (6120 N. Broadway). Right across the street from it, there is a tiny convenience store that sells Ethiopian ingredients including spice mixes and teas that you have to check out.
I hope this helps. Have a great day off!
Richwell Market on the east side of Canal, about two blocks north of Cermak. Great Chinese market, decent produce, great meat counter, interesting sea food. Packaged products and condiments are amazing. Best selection of Shiao Shing wine I've seen in Chicago. I could spend (probably have spent) hours there. (And I second the Thai Grocery rec. as well.)
Richwell Market is actually at 18th and Canal. Be sure to also try their baked goods. I think their BBQ pork buns are the best in town since the Happy Garden bakery closed down. But for lots of fun shopping and cooking, tell Santa to bring you a copy of "A Cook's Guide to Chicago."
Bobak's the Polish grocery/restaurant. Multiple locations. I've been to the BurrRidge one. Another is within the city limits, south, I think. I've never tried, but the restaurant, particularly the buffet, is supposed to be good. The BurrRidge market is large and interesting and very reasonable prices.
All in the same hood:
1 Old World Market (5129 Bway) -- African/Caribbean
2 Shan's (5060 Sheridan)-- Indian
3 Wikstrom's and Erickson's (5247 and 5250 Clark) -- Swedish delis
4 Golden Pacific (5353) -- extremely wide Pan Asian selection
5 Middle East Grocery (Foster, just west of Clark), as well as Arya at 5061 and Pars at 5260) -- Middle Eastern
I would enthusiatically second Devon Ave. Any of the Indian-Pakistani groceries, wonderful stuff, very inexpensive. Buy the Shan Bombay Biryani spice mix in a little yellow box (79 cents or so) and make an incredible meal at home. (Add the full amount of rice, it is very spicy; cut back on the ghee to a very minimal amount, just enough to fry the onion.) This is a family favorite. Also the Shan Chicken Tikka spices.
Added benefit of Devon, there is a great Russian bakery, Jewish deli, etc. Yum.
Marketplace on Oakton, just west of Cicero(Skokie Blvd)/the train tracks, great multi-ethnic mix, a bit of almost everything.