Today, Show Me Chicago visits the Wilmette market for the second in its Chicago Farmers Market series. Technically, Wilmette is not a Chicago market, it a suburban market. It is also not, technically, a Farmers Market, it is a French Market.
Wilmette is a near north suburb of Chicago, located 4 miles from the Chicago border and 14 miles from downtown Chicago–an easy drive or train ride from the city–with adequate on-street parking.
A French Market attempts to create a festive atmosphere with artistically arranged mini-marketplaces under an umbrella of canopies–think New Orleans or Paris.
The Wilmette French Market does this well. Along with five produce vendors, you’ll find arts, jewelry, pastries, breads, coffee, teas, baskets, meats, fish, cheeses, fabrics, plants, prepared foods and more.
Because the Wilmette market is allowed to carry some non-local produce–as long as it’s clearly marked–in addition to a variety of hardscape products, they are able to have a longer season. Whereas many suburban markets have either just opened or will be opening this weekend, the Wilmette market opened on April 25 and will run through November 7.
Here’s a brief snapshot of what you’ll experience at the market…
On the south side of the market, you’ll find some “Grateful Bites” being prepared in a wood oven. The “Bites” people prepare made-to-order omelette or omelets and wood-oven pizzas made from fresh, mostly local and seasonal ingredients. Stop by for breakfast, lunch or in-between, you won’t be sorry.
What’s a French Market without crepes?
A variety of made on-the-spot crepes are available and really yummy.
A variety of fresh roasted coffee beans are available for purchase by the bag or treat yourself to a cup to enjoy while you shop the market.
If the wind is blowing from just the right direction, you’ll have a hard time resisting the aroma of fresh donuts being prepared on-the-spot. How about one to go with that coffee? Or you could pick up a dozen or two of the mini’s for that afternoon’s little league game.
“Sugar Mama” doesn’t just make great cupcakes, but knows how to display them in the best light. Her mini-marketplace is a delight to see and taste.
Breads, glorious breads.
The colorful produce is hard to resist.
Beautiful baskets of all sizes may be just the thing to carry your market finds…and a lot more attractive than a plastic bag.
Tea lovers are sure to have a tea-rrific time at “The Tea House.”
Not sure what cheese to buy. The cheese people are generous with their samples and advice. The 20-year aged cheddar is outstanding but not inexpensive. I settled on a $6 bag of fresh cheese curds which I used that night (along with some cheddar) for mac and cheese and still had enough curds leftover for a cheese and spinach quiche the next night.
There are many picture-perfect flowers–plants and bouquets–at the market including these well-tended beauties.
The Wilmette French Market is on the Village Center parking lot that is adjacent to the Wilmette Metra train station in downtown Wilmette–just east of Green Bay Rd. at Lake Ave. If you drive, you’ll have no problem finding parking. The Metra north line is also an easy way to visit the market as it is right there when you disembark at the Wilmette stop. Market hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays, April 25 through November 7.
While in town…
If you are coming from the city or other suburbs, you may want to plan for some additional time in Wilmette. Some places you may want to visit are:
Downtown Wilmette. Downtown Wilmette is just east of the market. The charming downtown area contains an assortment of independently owned shops, restaurants and the Wilmette Theatre which offers classic films and live entertainment.
The oldest surviving Bahá’í House of Worship is located in Wilmette. It is open seven days a week to the public. In addition, to the architecturally significant interior and exterior, the temple is surrounded by beautiful gardens. 100 Linden Avenue.
The Beach. Wilmette is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. They have two public beaches that are open to residents and non-residents for a fee. For more information, click here.
NEXT UP…The Green City Market in Lincoln Park.
First in series: Chicago’s Farmers Markets: Beyond the berries.
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