Located on the corner of West 25th and Lorain in the Ohio City neighborhood of the west side of Cleveland, the West Side Market is apparently the oldest publicly owned market in Cleveland. A large, brick building (with a cool clock-tower!), the West Side Market houses over 100 vendors and is certainly an architectural gem. You can find fresh produce, meat, baked goods, and spices, as well as a wide variety of ethnic foods in the market. There’s also a sizable parking-lot and a Rapid Transit station nearby, so it’s very easy to access by car or public transportation. It’s also very close to downtown – it sits right next to a bridge that stretches over the Cuyahoga River, connecting the west side to downtown Cleveland.
When we went recently for lunch, the market was bustling with tourists, school groups, and people just doing their grocery shopping. We first entered the vegetable and fruit section, a long semi- open-air hallway with stands on both sides of the corridor. After buying some fresh tomatoes from a local Ohio farm in the produce area, we went into the main section of the market, a humungous, high-ceilinged room. After a brief deliberation, we finally decided we wanted Middle Eastern food for lunch, so we put in an order for a lamb shwarma and a side of hummus at Maha’s Falafil. While waiting for the shwarma, we perused some of the other stands in the market and bought some stuff to take home with us – some delicious mango-habnero salsa at Orale Contemporary Mexican Cuisine and some pierogis (a Cleveland specialty!) at Pierogi Palace. We also had fun looking at the spices, dried lentils, and European candies (Kinder chocolate!) at Mediterranean Imported Foods.
After we’d gone back to Maha’s to retrieve our food, we decided to forgo climbing the stairs to the indoor balcony that overlooks the whole market and instead went outside to sit on a bench in a small park across the street from the West Side Market. We had fun people-watching from where we were sitting, and admiring the architecture of the market, as well as the other buildings that surrounded us. We also noticed some cool stores, restaurants and wine bars in the area – we thought that the The Souper Market looked like another great place for lunch.
Feeling stuffed and happy, we decided to walk around the market to the parking lot when it was time to leave. We didn’t want to be tempted to buy more food!