Though it may be hard to believe, Chicago hasn’t always been a sausage kind of town. When a group of European immigrants found their way to the city’s west side in 1925, they noticed a profound lack of the traditional sausages they were accustomed to. So they decided to band together and make sausages themselves, and thus Crawford Sausage Co. was born.
Today, the shop still churns out bratwursts, smoked meats, and cuts of sandwich meat, selling savory, precooked sausages onsite and throughout the country under the name Daisy Brand Meat Products. The specialty is prasky, a sausage made from lean pork and beef blended with garlic and a secret mix of spices. Crawford Sausage’s range of flavorings and meats makes it the perfect pit stop before hosting a big barbecue or barricading your house against marauding gangs of herbivores.
Behind the small red brick storefront of Tonini's Italian Market, owners Dave and Taresa Goldman carry on the Italian cooking traditions that Dave followed years ago at the beloved––and now closed––D'Andreas Italian Market. These traditions include hand crafting four styles of italian sausage, sauces, pastas, and rustic breads each day. Though, Dave and Teresa are perhaps best known for their lean meatballs, which have garnered praise from local TV show Chicago's Best as well as the international grandmother syndicate. They fashion their many artisan specialties into a range of hot and cold Italian sandwiches, as well as deli salads ranging from piquant italian pasta to greek olive.
To compliment their homestyle cooking, they keep the store stocked with specialty groceries from Italy so customers can continue the tradition at home. Shelves brim with imported cheeses, canned tomatoes, and a gallery of olive oils, as well as colorfully painted ceramic plates and mugs.
For more than 40 years, Chicago-based Bobak Sausage Company has been creating Old-World sausages and gourmet deli meats. Though its most famous product is, perhaps, a classic polish sausage, the company's sausage scientists–also known as Sausageologists–scan the world's culinary traditions to produce hearty bratwursts, spicy chorizo, and fresh lithuanian sausage—all free of gluten, MSG, and trans fats. In addition to serving them from the 100-foot deli counter of the Bobak retail store and at gourmand-baiting events such as Taste of Chicago, the company ships its meats directly to homes, where they sizzle and plump as they’re pan-fried, grilled, or skewered on the fangs of a pet dragon. Bobak complements its stable of specialty meats with a collection of jarred pickles, kraut, and condiments from abroad.
Since 1981, the fully stocked Riversides Foods has flung open its doors to throngs of customers and striving to provide them with exceptional service in their search of delectable fresh and frozen groceries. Union meat cutters at the in-house deli slice tender meats such as beef, pork, lamb, veal, and poultry sourced from locally owned vendors, whereas thirst is slaked with a cascade of boutique wines and spirits, whether it be a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand or an Argentine malbec. Flaky pastries, fresh breads, and cakes circulate their toasty aromas throughout the bakery, much to the delight of hungry cartoon characters prowling the store. Diners can stroll to the produce section to pluck from kaleidoscopic bushels of kosher, certified-organic, and locally grown fruits and veggies courtesy of Indianapolis Fruit Company, with whom Riverside Foods has a bountiful partnership.:m]]
Marion Street Cheese Market stocks its shelves with locally produced foodstuffs and craft beers, pairing the two to populate seasonal menus available in its café. Like water on pavement or water on a statue of a bathrobe, cheese finds its way into every nook of executive chef Leonard Hollander’s tastings for two. Previous menus have commenced with nearby Seymour Dairy’s culinary handiwork such as baby spinach leaves cushioning a smattering of plump dried cherries, crumbled blue cheese, and toasted walnuts beneath a drizzle of white-balsamic vinaigrette. Second courses have included an entree that stills stomach squalls with a choice of dinner bedazzlements—veggies or meat—atop a creamy maelstrom of elbow pasta and cheese. Craft beers from local breweries such as Two Brothers, Three Floyds, and Metropolitan chaperone each bite’s journey toward epicurean hunger lairs, and dessert might parachute onto savory-sweet tongue beaches with a velvety triple-crème cheese—flanked by local preserves, honey, and marcona almonds.
Farmer's Pride staffers stock shelves with a wide selection of brand-name, never-prepackaged, and locally made edibles. Sliced cheeses, juicy steaks, and Boar's Head meats escape the deli counter via shopping baskets, and a wall of organic apples and oranges guard stockpiles of fresh avocados, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. During shopping trips, a café supplies stomachs with sandwiches and house-made soup to prevent hunger pangs from crying out for a cartload of malted milk balls.
The grocery gods and goddesses at Amish Healthy Foods stock their shelves with natural, farm-fresh meats, dairy, produce, and more. Never involved in growth hormone and steroid scandals, whole chickens ($3/lb.) chum around with whole pork tenderloins ($8.31/lb.), and grass-fed ground beef ($6.58/lb.) challenges ground venison ($9.80/lb.) to a herd-versus-herd game of Trivial Pursuit: Ruminant Edition. Amish creamery cheese ($5.93/lb.) or gooseberry fruit spread ($5.95, 18 oz.) tops Ben's Bakery breads, and Rise 'n Roll pickles flaunt their piquant personality. Seal the meal with fresh fruit or a gluten-free brownie ($1.99, 3.5 oz) or attempt to sprout wings and a stinger with a dose of bee pollen ($20/lb.).