Fulton Market was once home to Chicago’s meatpacking industry, but nowadays you no longer catch the scent of carcasses but rather the sweet aroma emanating from the Blommer Chocolate Company. Publican Quality Meats, a butcher shop, cafe and market, recalls the area’s history in a modern way by sourcing from local organic farms. Take a walking tour of Fulton Market and be sure to stop in at any of these worthy spots:
History Of Fulton Market
The Fulton-Randolph Market area was the repository of the rich Midwest farmland’s bounty from produce to livestock. It was Chicago’s meatpacking district and with its intact industrial and warehouse buildings, one can feel Carl Sandburg’s sentiment when he wrote, “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler; Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders.” The oldest food marketing district still churns with food manufacturing, fishmongers and meat suppliers, but also young urban professionals in loft condos, visionary restaurateurs and companies like Google, Uber and Kit and Ace.
Eat And Drink:
A few years ago, Au Cheval snagged the title of serving “the best new burger in America” by foodie bible Bon Appetit magazine and the lines were around the butcher block. The there was Food Network waxing rhapsodic about the eatery’s “juicy, decadent cheeseburgers” and the west side bar and diner’s legacy was carved in ground meat. The menu would thrill a great grandmother who recalls sipping on matzah ball soup, chopped chicken liver and a fried house-made bologna sandwich. Apparently subsequent generations are also crazy about those nostalgic options — simple preparations of fresh fish and those heavenly burgers that come in single and double burger stacks. The drinks are strong and certainly not cheap, but also not unreasonable for a big city.
1200 W Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Whereas most neighborhood restaurants and bars are focusing on the burgeoning craft beer trend, the fully functional winery here boasts more than 20 in-house wines as well as a list featuring more than 400 producers. Sip in the restaurant or on the patio choosing among globally inspired flatbreads, charcuterie, small plates of meatballs and olives as well as spreads and breads. The concert space offers great sight lines and the packed roster of artists skews a tad older, but nonetheless fabulous. See artists such as Macy Gray, Betty LaVette, Berlin, Eric Burdon and the Animals;,and comedians like Paul Reiser and Kevin Nealon in the tidy venue.
Hot Spot: Bottom Lounge
1375 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607
Live music fans adore the intimate space and fine acoustics and everyone raves about the beer and food menus. Local and national acts, reasonable ticket prices and smart set-ups for viewing and moving around the space attract concert goers most weekends, who often enjoy a draft or bottle before the show at the bar or a bowl of mussels and frites, sandwiches like burgers and the huge Schnitzelwich or the never disappointing fish ‘n’ chips. Add the fact that you can probably find street parking within a block or two and Bottom Lounge makes it to the top of many locals’ and visitors’ “must do” lists.
Markets And Culture: Randolph Street Market
1340 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60607
If you can’t find it at Randolph Street Market, the country’s largest and perhaps liveliest urban antiques and Indie Designer Market, you need to rethink things. Find quirky, one-of-a-kind pieces from over 250 vendors on eight acres one weekend every month, spread indoors and outdoors from May to September and indoors only from October to April. All that shopping, live music and entertainment mean you’ll tire but there’s also a time and place for resting, eating tamales and donuts, and drinking smoothies, beer, wine and Bloody Marys.
Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.