Experience CLE: A Day at the West Side Market

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What’s Up, Hungry People!

Welcome to Cleveland, Ohio—a city with a rich history and even richer food culture, especially at the iconic West Side Market. Nestled in the heart of the city, this market is a treasure trove of culinary delights, boasting over a century of history as one of the last remaining public markets in the United States.

Cleveland is a short drive from Medina, where we currently reside. Depending on the ongoing construction, the journey into the city can offer spectacular views, particularly from the Hope Memorial Bridge. Flanked by the majestic Guardians of Transportation, this bridge provides a perfect prelude to the market experience, with a panoramic view of The Land that’s just a quick walk away.

cleveland skyline

The West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio, stands as a historic landmark with roots stretching back to 1840, originally operating as an open-air marketplace on Pearl Street (now West 25th Street). As the population of Cleveland grew, the need for a more structured market space became apparent. This led to the construction of the current Neo-Classical/Byzantine building, which was completed in 1912 and designed by architects Benjamin Hubbell and W. Dominick Benes.

Over the years, the market has expanded its offerings and evolved into a vibrant hub for food enthusiasts and local shoppers alike. It houses over 100 vendors selling a wide array of products including meats, seafood, vegetables, baked goods, dairy, and flowers. The West Side Market has not only provided a space for commerce but also a cultural gathering spot that reflects the diverse community of Cleveland.

Today, the West Side Market is recognized not just for its historical significance but also as a vital part of Cleveland’s ongoing foodie renaissance. It attracts visitors from all over the region and is celebrated as one of the best public markets in the U.S., maintaining its place as a beloved institution in Northeast Ohio.

Here’s What You Need Before Your First Visit to WSM:

  • A Game Plan: Vital for navigating the bustling market and its array of vendors.
  • Patience for Parking: The city now charges by the hour after 90 minutes, which is scarcely enough to explore the entire market.
  • An Appetite: Essential, as the West Side Market is bursting with so many different cuisines, you’ll want to taste test everything!

Let’s Explore!

The West Side Market is the cultural hub of Northeast Ohio, established in the late 1840s. Through the decades, it has grown to accommodate a wide variety of vendors. You can find everything from fresh meats and cheeses to breads, pastries, coffee, herbs, spices, and an entire building dedicated to exotic fruits and vegetables.

If timing is on your side, try visiting at the end of the day when fruit vendors typically drop their prices. On one such visit, I snagged 10lbs of strawberries and several tubs of cut fruit for just $10!

The market is not only a fruit haven; it offers some of the freshest meat and seafood in Cleveland, with competitive prices. We never miss out on grabbing our favorite flavored jerkies, smokies, and a variety of delicious seafood.

Pics of my haul:

seafood at west side market
macarons at west side market
jerky at west side market
ohio city pasta at west side market

Cleveland is a Culinary Capital of the United States

Despite its reputation for high-quality ingredients, the food is the real star at the West Side Market. From savory gyros to succulent bratwurst, it’s hard to find a disappointing meal here. The crepes are a must-try—though be prepared to wait, as the line at Crêpes De Luxe can stretch over an hour. Watching the crepe masters at work, however, makes the wait worthwhile, and there’s no better place to enjoy these creations than from the second-level viewing area, offering a splendid view of the bustling market below.

It’s A Must-See in CLE

The West Side Market is undoubtedly one of my favorite spots in all of Northeast Ohio. As Cleveland cements its reputation among the top foodie cities in America, the market’s vibe—buzzing with locals and hardworking immigrants—perfectly captures the spirit of this great city. And though I wasn’t born and raised here, I’ve come to call Cleveland my home, much like the market itself, which encapsulates the best of what the city has to offer.

Every visit here is a new experience, filled with familiar faces and the excitement of finding new favorites among the stalls. Whether it’s the smell of freshly baked bread or the sight of exotic fruits, this market continues to be a place where memories are made. Despite the hustle and bustle, the sense of community is palpable, with each vendor offering not just their goods but a piece of Cleveland’s heart and soul. For anyone who calls this city home, or those just passing through, the market offers a slice of local life that’s hard to resist.

Live near the Land? Here’s more info on the West Side Market!