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Unusual / Interesting Grocery Stores?

I always like to stop in grocery stores when I'm travelling. Anything interesting / unusual in Chicago that I shouldn't miss? Could be ethnic or just a plain grocery store....... at home I love foraging at the Grocery Outlet chain stores ( remainders, dented cans, over runs, etc ) Staying near the Gold Coast (downtown) but willing to ride CTA . TIA

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  1. Most of the really good ones are in the suburbs. Some are national chains (H-Mart, Assi, Mitsuwa) and some are local Fresh Farms. The ones in the city are smaller and less exotic (mostly because even the mainstream groceries have gotten broader). If you take the Red Line train to Argyle there are a couple of Vietnamese and African groceries. Head up to Devon and there are several Indian stores.

    1. Andersonville has a great Middle Eastern grocery store on Foster right off of Clark Street. It's pretty far from downttown, but you could combine it with a trip to Arglye Street.

      1. Fox & Obel is a very nice, smallish, upscale grocery. Great deli, cheese, meat selections. The Whole Foods in Lincoln Park is pretty impressive as that type stores go.

        1. Chicago has a small chain of good-sized grocery stores called Treasure Island, with a large selection of imported items in addition to regular groceries. They have been around since at least the '70s, before gourmet groceries proliferated. There is one in the building at 680 N. Lake Shore Drive, in the Gold Coast. It's between Huron and Erie, and there's an entrance to the building on McClurg also.

          1 Reply
          1. re: solon

            If Gordon Wing is in the Gold Coast, there's a Treasure Island at the corner of Clark & Elm that might be more convenient.

          2. Green Grocer at Grand & Noble specializes in local and regional products including produce, meats, locally distilled spirits, ice cream, crackers and candy, too. Head a bit south from the gold coast and take the 65 bus west to Noble. 1402 W Grand

            1. Get on the Red Line subway (runs under State St---get on at Chicago & State, or Clark & Division) taking direction "Howard". Get off at Loyola (20 minutes). As you exit the station you will be at the bus stop in front of McDonald's. Take the 155 Devon bus and ask the drive to call Western Avenue (10 minutes). You will then be in the heart of the most interesting grocery shopping neighborhood in Chicago---intensely Indian-Pakistani for about six blocks (walk west) then, after the big bank that looks like New England, a Russian block or two followed by an Orthodox Jewish strip. For Indian don't miss the big Patel Bros supermarket on north side of street, but there are many other Indian groceries as well. Also, Fresh Farms produce (green awning, on a corner---wonderful merchandise). In the Russian section there's a Georgian bakery with a big stone oven, also some interesting delis. After the street turns Orthodox Jewish look for the Tel-Aviv Bakery, Levinson's Bakery, and a number of small delis and groceries. PS A hint: buy a one-day CTA pass for $6 and save money as otherwise you will pay $2.25 per leg of journey with no transfers. In the Gold Coast get the pass at Customer Service desk of Jewel supermarket, Clark & Division (where you can get on the Red Line subway right in front of Jewel). BTW eat lunch on Devon also---there are dozens of restaurants offering all-you-can-eat buffet lunch for about $8. I like Viceroy of India best, but many are good. And allow time to browse the jewelry, saris, wedding shoes with turned-up toes, gift shops, and other exotica. Devon Avenue is where the whole world comes to Chicago and gets along just fine. Enjoy.

              1. More possibilities: Take Clark 22 bus north (runs on Clark) to Foster (5200 North) then walk north for Middle Eastern and Swedish food shopping. Middle Eastern Bakery and Grocery, on Foster one door west of Clark. PARS Grocery, Clark & Berwyn. Swedish deli and grocery in block north of Foster. Swedish bakery at Catalpa. Bonus: Mexican products at Edgewater Produce, east side of Clark just south of Bryn Mawr.

                Another: Take Red Line subway north from Clark & Division; get off at Argyle for Chicago's Vietnamese/Thai shopping neighborhood all along Argyle between Broadway and Sheridan and spilling over a little onto Sheridan and a lot onto Broadway. Many groceries including some big ones on Broadway. OR take Red Line south to Chinatown/Cermak for Chicago's "old Chinatown"?---more gift shops, fewer grocery stores than in the Argyle neighborhood, which offers every known Asian food product.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Querencia

                  Thanks you all for the great ideas ....... plotting them out on my map and will see how my trip evolves.

                2. Great Post, I was going to ask the same type of question.
                  I am looking for someplace that would carry different types of Fruit. Any suggestions for places?

                  1. Gordon, when are you going to Chicago? I posted on the board too. I'm going Oct 23-25:

                    When I go I'm going to Green City Market for their outdoor farmer's market Wed & Sat 7am-1p. May 6-Oct 31

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hhc

                      I'll be there from Oct 13-17. Thanks for mentioning the Green Market. We'll be going there on Wed. Unfortunately, we'll be leaving on Saturday morning so we won't be able to go to the Maxwell Street Market. I'm still sorting through many possibilities for our short stay.