Does the West Side Market in Cleveland have more to it than just food? Yes, yes it does. The market has a great atmosphere, tons of history, sights, sounds, and the business of locals all in one great location.
From its early days to its current state the market has been a source of good food for the Ohio city area, the Cleveland city as a whole, and people from all over the world. West Side Market Started as a small outdoor market in 1840 and moved across the street to its permanent home in 1912. The building was built for the market, even though it may look like a reused structure. Over the past 100 years the market seen some vendors come and go, and some stay for the long haul, with a few of the stall being operated by the same families since the opening of the building.
The main building is large and airy. A tall arched structure it is reminiscent of an old Train station. All though the building, it is mainly a one floor venue. The second story has only a walk way for viewing the market and a small bench to sit and stop to get a bite of the food. All of the vendors in the main building are located on the ground floor. The layout is a simple grid that makes navigating easy, but still leaves a little adventure to the experience. All of the stalls are built in the same style and can look the same after a while. With only 4 “rows” and 5 “aisles”, each with different vendors’ wares on display, it is no problem getting a sense of location when lost. The outdoor produce arcade, located right next to the main building, feels like a regular farmers market enclosed to keep the elements out.
A large portion of the enjoyment of shopping at the market is talking to the vendors. Outdoors the fruits and vegetable vendors will haggle for the best grapes or exotic fruits. Indoors the butchers will help one find the best cut from a bison, goat, chicken, pig, or other exotic animals. Whole pigs can be seen being delivered straight to the vendors to be prepared on site. If one has questions all they have to do is ask and everyone will be glad to help out. Even with the competitors literally inches away vendors feel welcoming and inviting, as if everyone is just one big happy family.
If all the sights and smells of the place make one hungry quite a number of prepared food stall are on-site to fill one up. Hot dogs, sandwiches, beef jerky, fresh fruits, the choices of snacks and even meals are almost endless. The most famous prepared food stall is Steve’s Gyros, which has been on many national best of list and shows. Almost all food shows stopping in the city visit the stall. (Due to popular demand they sell out early and close well before the rest of the market. Come early, and don’t be surprised by waits of upwards of 30 minutes.)
Cleveland residents, Chefs, weekend grillers, and even tourist will enjoy a stop at the most famous food venue in the city. The Westside Market in Cleveland is a must see for anyone in the city.
Quick tip: The Christmas story house is only a few blocks down the street, and the Progressive Field is a few blocks too. The market can get busy at times.