Ethnic Markets in Chicago
Soul Food, Cajun, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Mexican, French, Spanish, Peruvian, Guatamalan, Lithuanian, Bohemian, Afghan, Ethiopian, you name it, Chicago offers as diverse a selection of dining choices as practically any city in the world.
Chicago’s ethnic neighborhoods offer a virtual United Nations of dining choices. Enclaves such as Chinatown, Greektown, West Rogers Park (Jewish), Pilsen (Mexican), Ukrainian Village (Polish, Ukrainian), Andersonville (Swedish) and the Little Italy (Italian) are among those offering tastes from around the world at excellent prices. In Chicago, visitors can also find Afghan, Ethiopian, Cajun, Persian, Vietnamese, Guatemalan, Peruvian, Bohemian, Lithuanian, and much more.
Shop neighborhood markets to find all the ingredients you need to make delectable international recipes.
Mexican/Latin American markets
Some of the best cakes and Mexican pastries in town can be found at BomBon Bakery. Try a slice for yourself at their locations in the West Loop (38 S. Ashland Ave.) and the Gold Coast (1000 N. Clark St.).
Indian/Pakistani/ Russian markets
Roam the international Marketplace that spans many blocks of Devon Avenue (6400 N.) in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, where Indian, Pakistani, Jewish, and Middle Eastern goods abound. One of the best bets is Argo Georgian Bakery’s (2812 W. Devon Ave.) delicious bread, baked on-site in a tandoor-style oven; prepared before your eyes, bread warm from the oven is yours for the tasting.
Still searching for an elusive ingredient? Chances are Fresh Farms (2626 W. Devon Ave.)has it amid aisles packed with exotic spices, oddly-shaped fruits, and many varieties of pre-packaged paneer.
Ask a salesclerk how to use the unfamiliar finds at Patel Brothers (2610 W. Devon Ave.), one of the area’s original shops, whose selection of dals, chutneys, and spices is legendary.
- 2439 W. Devon Ave. (Rogers Park), 773.338.1627
- 2411 N. Clark St. (Lincoln Park), 773.529.1705
Among the dozens of mouthwatering Indian and Pakistani restaurants lining Devon Avenue in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, Hema’s Kitchen stands out for its using the freshest ingredients in substantial portions. Run by a friendly mother-daughter team, Hema’s Kitchen gathered such a loyal following that it recently opened a second location in Lincoln Park.
If you’re new to Indian cuisine, be sure to specify your spiciness preference—the authentic curries can pack a punch. Specialties include vegetable samosas, chicken tikki masala, and matar paneer, best finished with a cooling glass of mango lassi. Hema’s Kitchen is BYOB. The restaurant also offers both takeout and delivery options to some areas.
Middle Eastern markets
Sprint southwest to an enclave of markets and restaurants nestled along a stretch of Lawrence Avenue (4800 N.) for Middle Eastern culinary insights. Stock up on sandwich stuffings at Al Khyam Bakery and Grocery (4738 N. Kedzie Ave.), offering pita, a fresh butcher counter, and bulk dry goods.
Cozy and brimming with fresh breads and a well-stocked deli counter, Middle Eastern Bakery and Grocery (1512 W. Foster Ave.), is an ideal source for the makings of a picnic lunch.
You don’t have to cross any continents to find food from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Just down the way, on Argyle Street (5000 N.), in an area sometimes called “New Chinatown,” a jewel of multicultural dining awaits you, with fare from Asian communities newer to Chicago–Laotian, Vietnamese, and Thai–as well as Japanese and Chinese. Argyle Street is located within Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.
Shops and restaurants alive with the tastes and aromas of Asia line the streets. Let the adventure begin at Tai Nam Market(4925 N. Broadway), Viet Hoa Plaza (1051 W. Argyle St.), and La Patisserie P (1050 W. Argyle St.).
South of the Loop, Chinatown dazzles with a host of restaurants, markets, and Asian shops. AtHong Kong Noodle Company(2350 S. Wentworth Ave.), a factory where noodles are made the old-fashioned way and sold by the pound at the service desk, purchase egg roll and wonton wrappers. Whether preparing Asian meals for everyday eating or special occasions, the Richwell Market (1835 S. Canal St.) supermarket is an excellent one-stop source.
Experiment with the produce, meats, and dry goods used in the multiethnic cuisines of Africa’s islands with ingredients from Rogers Park Fruit Market (7401 N. Clark St.). Whip up Haitian, Jamaican, and African dishes with finds from La Fruteria (8909 S. Commercial Ave.) on the South Side.