5 Things to Explore at Cleveland’s West Side Market

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When I asked friends what I should do in Cleveland, I received the same advice from many: visit the West Side Market. Located in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, the market is the city’s biggest indoor market. Home to 100 vendors, the attraction sees hundreds of visitors daily who can find anything from prepared foods and baked goods to seafood to fresh produce.

While the West Side Market is a great place to shop for affordable, local produce, it is also the perfect place to grab lunch; or, like me, simply spend the whole day eating. It’s possible to sample food from several continents on a single trip to the market. To help you do the same, here are five great places to try foreign cuisine at the West Side Market.

West Side Market

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Sponsler via Shutterstock

1. Orale Contemporary Cuisine.

After 16 years at the West Side Market, Orale Contemporary Cuisine has perfected their ability to, as they say, offer “Mexican style cuisine with a contemporary flare.” Though they started with only five salsas and a few traditional Mexican dishes like empanadas, today they offer 70 varieties of salsa ranging from a traditional mild to unique flavors like mango-habanero, along with traditional Mexican cuisine like chicken mole enchiladas. Orale became so popular they also opened a restaurant a few blocks away.

West Side Market

Photo courtesy of Orale!

2. Maha’s Falafil

A family-owned business that has been featured on several TV shows — including Rachel Ray’s $40 a Day — Maha’s Falafil is famous for their falafel sandwiches, as well as shawarma and gyros. Though there are plenty of options to add to the sandwich, the traditional includes falafel, hummus, hot sauce, lettuce and tomato in a thick wrap. This was a personal favorite at the market as it was my first time trying falafel. and I loved the atmosphere the small kitchen and staff offered.

West side Market

Photos of Maha’s Falafil via Ohio City Inc

3. Steve’s Gyros

Steve’s Gyros is easily the most popular restaurant in the entire market. It’s been featured on a variety of TV shows, including Man v Food and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. If you’re in the mood for one of the tastiest gyros you’ll ever put in your mouth, make sure to arrive at the market early. There is usually at least an hour wait to get your order and they typically sell out early.

west side market

Photo courtesy of Steve’s Gyros

4. Crepes de Luxe

Inspired by a combination of Parisian culture and owner Bob Holcepl’s interest in street food, Crepes de Luxe moved to the West Side Market in 2007, after spending a few years offering crepes at food festivals. The stand offers Parisian style street crepes, ready and easy to eat on the go. Many of the crepes are classic combinations from Paris was well as the Breton region of France, though they also offer a “create your own” option. Crepes de Luxe uses real Normandy butter and sources many of their fresh ingredients from fellow West Side Market Vendors.

West Side Market

Photo Courtesy of Crepes de Luxe

5. Juice Garden

After sampling cuisines from around the world, it’s time for one last stop: The Juice Garden. Easily the healthiest place in the market, the Juice Garden features fresh squeezed, natural juices and smoothies. They offer traditional juices like fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice available by the pint or quart, though have an entire menu of combinations to sample there. For those looking for an added dose of healthy, they also serve “shots” and “spikes” in the form of health foods like chia seeds and wheatgrass. My personal favorite: the Mango Green Tea made from mango, ginger, orange juice, bananas, and green tea.

West Side Market

Photo Courtesy of Juice Garden

The West Side Market is a must-visit for everyone traveling to Cleveland, foodie or not. Sample an old favorite or try something completely new. The possibilities are endless.

What’s your favorite eatery at Cleveland’s West Side Market? Please share in the comments below!

Contributed by Sky Fisher

Jessica Festa
Jessica Festa is the editor of the travel sites Jessie on a Journey (http://jessieonajourney.com) and Epicure & Culture (http://epicureandculture.com). Along with blogging at We Blog The World, her byline has appeared in publications like Huffington Post, Gadling, Fodor's, Travel + Escape, Matador, Viator, The Culture-Ist and many others. After getting her BA/MA in Communication from the State University of New York at Albany, she realized she wasn't really to stop backpacking and made travel her full time job. Some of her most memorable experiences include studying abroad in Sydney, teaching English in Thailand, doing orphanage work in Ghana, hiking her way through South America and traveling solo through Europe. She has a passion for backpacking, adventure, hiking, wine and getting off the beaten path.
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