after all, midwest is best!
If you follow us on Instagram, you'll know we’re suckers for small local grocers and for good reason... They often stock unique products not found at your regular chain grocery stores; beautiful, artisanal preserved foods, produce from small local farms, and almost always a great loaf of sourdough bread from a nearby bakery.
It feels like when visiting the east and west coasts, small grocers committed to locally/sustainably sourced produce and products are a dime a dozen. Meanwhile, in the midwest, we’re stuck in the land of Big Box stores. We often feel down about the lack of options in and around Chicago. When traveling, we like to seek out these small special spots, make the time to leisurely peruse their offerings, ask questions and try something new. But at home, we stick mostly to the routine we know with the stores and products we’ve come to trust. Of course we do the best we can in the winter months, trying to eat seasonally and buying produce that’s local-ish, all while counting down the days when the farmers' markets can make their return. While we’re still a month away from the first outdoor market of the season, we realized something... we can look harder and we can do better. Instead of letting these months between spring and winter get us down and dreaming about what we wish we had here in the midwest, we hopped in the car, drove outside our normal routine and discovered some gems, right here in own backyard.
Below you’ll find a few of our favorites and why it is we love them so much:
810 Dempster St, Evanston, IL 60202
Just north of the city, in the picturesque town of Evanston, you’ll find Village Farmstand: A micro-warehouse community grocery store with an online marketplace built for small farmers and loyal patrons who strive to be part of a resilient food system.
Village Farmstand is committed to supporting local agriculture and primarily sources from farms using organic and regenerative practices. From chioggia beets to white oyster mushrooms, purple daikon radish and wild ramps, they stock some of the most beautiful produce we’ve seen outside the farmers' market. They also carry a selection of local grains and meats, prepared foods, Hewn bread and unique chocolates. There is no browsing at Village Framstand, instead their small team carefully hand picks and packs your order for you. You can place it ahead online or in-store when you arrive, Thursday - Sunday. Bonus: They just recently expanded delivery into the city!
5232 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640
Right in the heart of Andersonville, you’ll find the tiny, 400 square foot Andale Market: A curated corner store for ‘best of’ essentials, unique food finds, local and imported goods, fun gifts, and more...
Andale’s owner, Mia Sakai, has brought in such a wonderful selection of goods that you won’t find at your run of the mill grocery store. Sauces and spreads, small batch seeded crackers and trendy flavored waters... just to name a few. We’ve found what we love are the selection Nicolas Vahe products (typically only found online), the Caldo Natural Aneto chicken broth and the Natural Heaven hearts of palm noodles. Unique packaged food finds aren’t the only thing they do well... you’ll also find beautiful puzzles, non-toxic nail polish and handmade greeting cards, making Andale a perfect place to to pick up a gift for your favorite foodie friend.
812 Madison St, Oak Park, IL 60302
West of the city in the town of Oak Park you’ll find Sugar Beet Food Co-op. Featuring kombucha on tap, a coffee and juice bar, local produce and an impressive bulk section, Sugar Beet Co-op offers exactly what you would expect from a community supported food co-op. Their selection of pantry staples, snacks and produce is robust, and they have a nice mix of familiar brands here as well as local ones. But what we really love is their bulk section, especially when it comes to personal care and cleaning products. In addition to bulk selections of bath salts and all natural soaps, Sugar Beet also offers bulk buying for our favorite, people and planet friendly cleaning and laundry products, Meliora, a local Chicago brand developed by two environmental engineers looking for more transparency in their household products. Bulk buying of everyday essentials is an amazing step towards no-waste living. Check out Sugar Beet and make that simple change a part of your routine.
4363 N Lincoln Ave,
Chicago, IL 60618
On the corner of Lincoln and Montrose in Lincoln Square, the women owned, L+M Fine Foods offers a full scale deli and butcher program, an exciting cheese selection, house made prepared foods and familiar pantry staples. What we find really special about this place though is the impressive selection of natural wines. Hazy whites, unique oranges, fizzy reds, we’re here for all of it. It’s the perfect place to put together a really well curated charcuterie board that will pair perfectly with a fun and funky wine.