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]]
Winner of the Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2008–Cheese Selection, Marion Street Cheese Market carries a myriad of artisan cheeses from local and international farms, and offers a sumptuous menu for in-store bistro lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Dine in and dabble in one of the restaurant's cheese flights (each of which comes with bread, crackers, and dried fruit), such as the Francophile flight ($15), with firm Cantal cheese, Essex St. Comté, and the mild petit basque. Or practice your multiple-choice skills by designing your own flight ($12 or $15). Entrees include the free-range roasted chicken ($17) with bacon-shallot marmalade, or the mac 'n' cheese ($12–$14), with aged cheddar, SarVecchio parmesan, and Capriole chèvre. Complement tastings with craft brews such as Flossmoor's Recession Ale or Surly Brewing's Furious Ale, or sprinkle curds with a cheese-enhancing wine. Recently endowed with a license to spirit, the market is also beginning to serve specialty cocktails.