West Side Market
Recently on a trip to Cleveland we went to the West Side Market. What a great place. In addition to every kind of produce at reasonable prices, interesting vendors sell meats, seafood, cheeses, baked goods - fancy cakes and great breads, as well as pasta, spices and marinades. One purveyor sells just quiche - every kind you could imagine. Is there any place like this in the Chicago area? If there is, I will become a regular customer.
If by "Chicago area" you mean Milwaukee, then the answer is yes. If you're thinking anywhere within an hour drive of the city, the answer, sadly, is no.
No, Chicago does not have a central market. Howevr, Cleveland dows not have the wide variety of ethnic grocers that chicago. Also, Cleveland does not have good produce markets like Caputo's, Eurofresh, and the like.
I was at the West Side Market nearly every week for the five years I was in Cleveland. The majority of the produce stands sold what I call surplus - the remainders from the various wholesale operations in the city. Don't get me wrong. It was OK produce at a great price and I bought a lot of it as we rarely ate at a restaurant in Cleveland. However, there were perhaps three or four produce stands (of thirty) that sold first rate quality stuff.