8 of Chicago’s Best International Food Markets: Eataly

Photo courtesy of Eataly. All other photos by Maddie LaKind.

Like any great food city, Chicago’s culinary vibrancy is rooted in an eclectic and dynamic range of food offerings inspired by cultures around the globe. Our city’s uber-inventive chefs take advantage of the many international grocery stores both in the city proper and Northern suburbs — and so should you. To take a trip around the world without breaking the bank — or leaving the state for that matter — be sure to add some or all of these notable food markets to your list.

Eataly (Italian)

Ever since its arrival in Chicago back in 2013, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Eataly has been enticing locals and tourists alike with its expansive collection of Italian specialties. One could very easily spend an entire day at this food mecca, dining in the food court; roaming through aisles of unique artisanal items and Italian staples, like pasta in every shape under the sun from producers ranging from the familiar Barilla to those rarely seen outside Italy; and taking classes in the art of baking pizza, wine tasting or preparing mozzarella from scratch. As if all of that weren’t enough, there is an all-Nutella counter that only serves sweet treats featuring everybody’s favorite chocolate-hazelnut spread. 43 E. Ohio St., Chicago, 312-521-8700

Latinicity (Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese)

There aren’t many places where you can find the flavors of Latin America, Spain and Portugal all under one roof, but Latinicity is one such spot. Chef Richard Sandoval’s majestic Latin Food Hall houses an impressive collection of 10 eateries, bars and markets that aims to celebrate the diverse street food cultures of the aforementioned locales. In the span of a visit, diners can experience everything from Peruvian ceviche to Brazilian mixed grill, Mexican tortas and tacos as well as a bountiful beverage menu of Latin cocktails, beers and wines. Come hungry, bring friends and let your taste buds guide the way through this Latin food wonderland. 108 N. State St., Chicago, 312-795-4444

Patel Brothers (Indian)

International Food Markets in Chicago: Patel Brothers

Anybody who has ever visited Devon Street can attest to its seemingly endless array of vibrant restaurants and ethnic markets. But perhaps no grocery store has garnered more of a beloved following than Patel Brothers. Founded in 1974, this family-run spot, specializing in hard-to-find Indian ingredients, has expanded from the original Devon Street location into a thriving franchise with 52 stores nationwide. The original location is still a must-visit for anybody with an interest in exploring the flavors of India. With brimming shelves of chutneys, curries, pickles, spices, bulk grains, teas and exotic fruits and vegetables, all at incredibly reasonable prices, Patel Brothers is an Indian-food-lovers paradise. 2610 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, 773-262-7777

Joong Boo (Korean)

International Food Markets in Chicago: Joong Boo

Most of you have probably passed the prominent green Joong Boo sign (just past Kimball off I-94) at some point on your morning commute. For those of you who have yet to pull off the road and pay a visit, it’s time to change that. This Korean-centric market is a place to get lost in, with retail items for days. In addition to pantry items like noodles and rice, Joong Boo carries a wide array of internationally sourced meat cuts and seafood, as well as farm-grown produce and too many types of sake to count. Don’t forget to stop by the in-store snack corner, especially Wang Mandoo (which translates to King Dumpling) for a plate of house-made pork or black rice and red-bean dumplings. 3333 N. Kimball Ave., Chicago, 773-478-5566

Super H Mart (Asian)

International Food Markets in Chicago: Super H Mart

Are you one of those people that could roam the aisles of the grocery store for hours on end? If yes, then Super H Mart in Niles must be on your radar. Situated right next to the famed King Spa, Super H Mart is the ultimate Asian grocery store, with products sourced from all around the continent. Think endless varieties of noodles, rice, chili pastes, seasonings and possibly the largest kimchi selection you’ve ever encountered. After shopping, take a load off in the full-service food court and treat yourself to seafood pancake or a steaming bowl of pho. Your feet and your stomach will thank you. Civic Center Plaza, 801 Civic Center Drive, Niles, 847-581-1212

Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen (German/European)

International Food Markets in Chicago: Gene's Sausage Shop and Delicatessen

Tucked away in the middle of Lincoln Square, Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen will transport you back to a simpler time. This European sausage market and deli prepares more than 40 different types of sausage in-house plus another 30 varieties of smoked meats. Gene’s also houses an entire Euro-centric grocery collection, with hard-to-find international products as well as cheeses, fresh produce and a full liquor section. The shop has its very own rooftop bar and garden where you can try some of these tasty creations on site. 4750 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773-728-7243

Middle East Bakery (Middle Eastern)

International Food Markets in Chicago: Middle East Bakery

Andersonville’s Middle East Bakery, situated at the intersection of Foster and Clark, epitomizes the corner store feel. While much smaller than many of its counterparts on this list, what Middle Eastern Bakery lacks in size, it more than makes up for in incredible product selection. Delicacies here range from imported cheeses and olives to bulk dry goods, sweets like Baklava and Turkish Delight, and a crazy impressive spice collection. Pita is also baked daily in all shapes and sizes and serves as the perfect accompaniment to the rest of your grocery treasures. As if all of this weren’t enough, the store also runs a neighboring café where you can indulge in some of the best falafel sandwiches, shawarma and stuffed grape leaves around. 1512 W. Foster Ave., Chicago, 773-561-2224

Kaufman’s (Jewish/Eastern European)

International Food Markets in Chicago: Kaufman's

No trip to Skokie is complete without a visit to the famed Kaufman’s Delicatessen. Half restaurant, half grocery store, Kaufman’s churns out an astounding array of traditional Jewish and Eastern European fare fit for any meal of the day. In-house specialties include smoked fish, baked goods, cold cuts (including pastrami, corned beef, tongue and brisket), and comforting meals to-go like chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage, goulash, kugel and blintzes. Packaged grocery items are also in abundance and feature favorites like dill pickles, classic sodas and old-timey candies. Like so many of the fellow spots on this list, patrons can indulge their appetites in-house and choose from a staggering menu of deli sandwiches, soups, sides and desserts. 4905 W. Dempster St., Skokie, 847-677-6190

 

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Maddie LaKind

Maddie LaKind is a Chicago-born personal chef, caterer and writer. Her love of gastronomy began with an introduction to the Food Network as a teenager and has since blossomed into a deep-rooted passion. She spent her early career in the food world working at the famed Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, before moving on to other notable spots including Detroit’s Sister Pie bakery, and Floriolebakery, Read It and Eat bookstore and The Social Table in Chicago. In her spare time, she can be found practicing yoga, hosting dinner parties for friends and sifting through her ever-growing cookbook collection.