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To market, to market! Chicago French Market opens in the West Loop

The new Chicago French Market: Basically a food court?

The new Chicago French Market: Basically a food court?

The new Chicago French Market opens today in Ogilvie Transportation Center’s new MetraMarket. It will be the closest thing Chicago has to a public marketplace like those of cities such as Toronto, Philadelphia, Cleveland and even Milwaukee.

Chicago’s first and only year-round, European-inspired indoor market offers fresh produce, meats, baked goods and a variety of prepared meals from more than two dozen local vendors. But it’s not going to give us the kind of marketplace local foodies have been yearning for.

For one thing, there are only three places selling raw ingredients: Chicago Organics, with certified organic produce, meats and dairy products; a branch of City Fresh Market, also selling meats and produce, and Produce Express, a farmstand. A charcuterie shop, Fumare; and branches of Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine and Wisconsin Cheese Mart also offer groceries useful to home cooks. In addition, there are half a dozen bakeries and sweet shops.

The remainder of the food vendors are restaurant stands selling prepared meals and snacks — Mexican, Korean, Vietnamese, crepes, gourmet fries, sandwiches, etc. — so it’s basically a fancy food court. No doubt it will be a tasty and useful addition to the West Loop, particularly for Northwestern commuters, but it’s not going to give Chicago the kind of marketplace Martha Bayne wrote so eloquently about.

The market is open Mondays through Saturdays. Vendor opening times vary. Parking is available in the MetraMarket parking garage north of Randolph with entrances from both Canal and Clinton. One hour’s parking is free with $20 purchase at the market.

Check it out and let us know what you think!