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Words and photos by Mike Uva
For this, the Glenville edition of Hotel Bruce, my lady Danielle and I make our very first trip to the East Side Market at E. 105th and St. Clair. I’ve only lived in Tremont and points west, so my fresh-foods shopping has been limited to the West Side Market. On our drive eastward this breezy morning, I describe what my morning Google research has unearthed. “The East Side Market opened in 1988 and replaced a downtown market demolished to make room for the Gateway sports stadiums. The city-owned market has 22,000 square feet of meat and produce stands . . . [and] is an anchor for commercial development.”

We easily find a parking spot, a claim you’d be hard-pressed to hear at the West Side Market on a Saturday. The aforementioned “commercial development” is Glenville Plaza and Glenville Town Center, standard strip mall fare abutting a Dollar Mart and Hollywood Video. In front of the Market, a billboard bearing the image of Mayor Jane Campbell “Challenges You To A Healthier Lifestyle.”

We enter the Market and my first thought is, well, this shouldn’t take long. Because compared to the grandeur of the West Side Market . . . hey, it’s unfair to compare the two in terms of size, variety, or attendance. Still, it’s hard to avoid—about half of the East Side Market’s stainless-steel counters and glass cases are vacant, and there are only 20 or 30 customers walking about.

But soon I see that, indeed, there are fresh produce and meats to be found, and I’m taken in by the bright and congenial atmosphere here. Sunlight streams in through the overhead windows. The merchants have plenty in the way of fresh fish and meats, including more exotic items like salt pork, corned beef brisket, and smoked jowl. You can even get live catfish “So fresh, you’ll have to spank ’em!” boasts a placard.

We contemplate a slice of pizza, but remember Mayor Campbell’s challenge and stroll back over to the produce counter by the front entrance. The goods here are more expensive than at the West Side Market (likely due to a lack of competitors). I’m surprised to pay $4.50 for a bag of grapes, but I guess that’s not too unreasonable: the grapes are delicious, not a bruised one in the bunch, and they last an entire week.

Sure enough, our visit to the East Side Market lasts just under ten minutes. Maybe I should’ve interviewed someone. We head down the street to a diner called “DJs.” We wait a long time for our food, but our eggs are very good and we’re able to watch extensive CNN footage on the just-captured “Olympic Bomber” and other news-making deviants.

The East Side Market is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 am to 6 pm, and Saturdays from 8 am to 6 pm. The West Side Market it ain’t, but if you’re in the neighborhood, I recommend it.


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