Fulton Market District in the West Loop is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago, and it probably has something to do with the influence of street art both outside and inside some of this small neighborhood's beloved establishments. If you're looking for a break from normal, and hungry for some of the city's most delicious gourmet food, look no further than Fulton Market. Its visibility may have grown some after serving as the location for the 30th season of Real World, but the area was trend setting well before the show moved in. (Although, their house was really cool.) There are so many things to check out, you could easily spend a day getting a taste of the neighborhood. Here's my ideal Fulton Market budget itinerary.
- Public transit: Morgan (CTA Green and Pink Line 'L' Train). Or a longer walk from Grand/Milwaukee (Blue Line) or Racine (Blue Line)
- On foot: If you're coming from the Loop, it's an easy 1.5 mile walk to Fulton Market.
Breakfast/Brunch: Sawada Coffee or BomboBar
Sawada Coffee has the best matcha (green tea) latte I've ever had, and I'm quite the connoisseur. For breakfast on a budget, grab a coffee and a doughnut. You could also head to nearby Bombobar, a walk-up window attached to Bar Siena that serves coffee, espresso, and cappuccino along with breakfast sandwiches, Italian doughnuts (bombolini), and gelato and Italian ice in the summer months.
Lunch: Macello or Forno Rosso
You could definitely spend a lot of money at either at these fine Italian establishments, and it would be worth it — they both serve authentic cuisine and provide some of the best service in the city. For a cheaper take, I'd recommend coming at lunch and ordering a pizza or two to share. Best bets: the pizza pugliese from Macello, and pistachio pizza from Forno Rosso.
Shopping: Publican Quality Meats
There's a reason why Chicago is always buzzing about this place — they have the best cuts of meat in Chicago. Part butcher shop, part eatery, part gourmet grocery, this place is a must-stop. Do yourself a favor and pick up some charcuterie to enjoy back home while you're in the neighborhood — and if you're lucky enough to get there before all the cookies sell out, grab some of those to go too.
Entertainment: Street-Art Hunting and Galleries Galore
The best budget activity on this Fulton Market budget itinerary has to be spending the day seeking out this neighborhood's amazing street art, including the one of two Banksy pieces in Chicago, located at Randolph and Peoria, on the side of the Grange Hall Burger Bar. On the site of the forthcoming Nobu Hotel, this (slowly disappearing) piece is just one example within an ever changing art-filled neighborhood that includes murals on Lake Street and Hubbard Street, rotating works on the Soho House Chicago exterior, and an abundance of area galleries.
If you're looking for something more structured, check out what's going on at event space Revel Fulton Market. Revel plays host to a number of innovative events, with some being free to enter.
Dinner: Cemitas Puebla
It won't take you much time exploring Fulton Market to appreciate the vast array of excellent restaurants in the vicinity. With acclaimed dining options from Girl and the Goat to Au Cheval to City Winery, you wouldn't be to blame if you decided dinner was the time to splurge!
If you want to be good and stick to your budget, I'd recommend checking out Cemitas Puebla. It's the perfect Mexican restaurant for when you've had enough tacos (if ever!). Cemitas are a kind of torta (Mexican sandwich), and come in a variety of delicious flavors — but the real draw are the three house-made sauces in squeeze bottles at each table that you can, and should, apply liberally to spice up, and specialize, your sandwich.
Drinks: Fulton Market Kitchen
Just like many others in the community (Sawada Coffee included), Fulton Market Kitchen, which touts itself as an art gallery as well as a restaurant and cocktail bar, distinguishes itself from similar Chicago establishments with a focus on the arts in everything they do. Bring a date and you won't run out of things to talk about when making your way through this innovative space. Also, the cocktails are much more cost-effective than nearby (though completely amazing) cocktail bar, The Aviary.
Chicago locals: are there any must-hit spots I missed in this Fulton Market budget itinerary? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments.