As summer nears its apex, farmers' market season is in full effect. And all that shopping requires some sustenance. Here are some top picks for prepared foods you should be eating this summer while shopping the markets.
Green City Market (Lincoln Park at Clark and Lincoln)
Chicago's preeminent (and largest) farmers' market, Green City Market can be quite the behemoth to navigate, especially on sunny Saturdays when it's packed with people craving locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and everything under the Midwestern sun. It's good to treat yourself. You can do so by eating pizza. It's not every farmers' market that boasts a mobile pizza oven, but Nomad Food Company is one of the top draws at GCM, and for good reason. Chef/owner Jared Batson mans the brick oven stove, turning out various seasonally inspired pies for hours on end, each one showcasing ingredients sourced from vendors at the market. Grab a pizza with friends and enjoy a picnic in Lincoln Park, with cookies with Cookies & Carnitas for dessert.
Wicker Park Farmers Market (1425 N. Damen Ave.)
Previously city run, the perpetually popular Wicker Park Farmers Market is now under the direction of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, bringing a little more wholesome locality to the production. One thing that hasn't changed is the market's unfailing consistency in crêpe supremacy. Crêpes Paname makes crêpes to order in professional crêpe pans made in France, using ingredients as local and organic as possible. You'd be hard-pressed to find crêpes this legit this side of the Atlantic.
Logan Square Farmers Market (Logan Blvd. at Milwaukee Ave.)
Two words for you: drinking chocolate. Sure there are berries galore and produce aplenty at the sprawling Logan Square Farmers Market, but what you're primarily here for is the decadent drinking chocolate courtesy of Katherine Anne Confections, right? The local chocolatier sets up shop each week at the Logan Square market slinging its artisanal chocolate wares, including this thick, chilled cocoa elixir, infused with some of the shop's truffles. This stuff makes a milkshake taste like sad water by comparison.
61st Street Farmers Market (6100 S. Blackstone Ave.)
Head to Hyde Park on Saturdays to enjoy one of the most leisurely, neighborhood-y farmers markets in town. The 61st Street Farmers Market does a nice job curating a manageable array of reputable vendors from the city and beyond, covering everything from pantry provisions and seasonal produce to meats, breads, and of course prepared foods. One standout is Pleasant House Bakery, a Bridgeport-based, British-accented shop specializing in meat-filled pies, sausage rolls, and the like. They also boast some of the best bread around, made from Midwestern grains that they mill themselves and bake in a wood-fired oven. You can taste the difference.
Andersonville Farmers Market (located on Berwyn, between Clark and Ashland)
When it's time for pie, head to the opposite ends of the city for a slice of First Slice. This cute, altruistic Andersonville cafe spreads the love to the market, offering the perfect sweet dessert after strolling the streets and plucking farm-fresh ingredients. Pie flavors rotate on the regular, but you can rest assured each one will be heavy on all-American nostalgia and comfort. Keep a look out for summer fruit pies like Michigan sour cherry and balsamic raspberry pear.
Photos: Wicker Park Farmers Market, Green City Market, 61st Street Farmers Market