Since its establishment in 1936, Schaefer's has acquired a wealth of notoriety for its comprehensive yet complex assortment of complementary flavors. The drinkporium stocks hundreds of bottles of globally acquired wines, and fills aisles with unusual and exotic beers. The spirits department lines up anything from top-shelf whiskey to high-proof elixirs. And the gourmet goods section hosts fine, finger-friendly apps and pairables, such as imported French Saint-André cheese ($14.99 per lb.), Cacciatore artisan salami ($18.99), chocolates, and dips, making customers want to hold back a few shillings in their satchels. Because Schaefer's maintains its commitment to diversity and quality, items such as wine, beer, and liquor bottles range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars each.
With a broad selection of organic and locally grown produce, imported cheeses, and freshly caught seafood, Fresh Farms International Market seamlessly blends local and international flavors. Specialists in aquatic fare guide patrons through the details of live lobsters ($7.99/lb.) or wild octopus ($2.99/lb.), explaining how to prepare them and train them to guard a bank vault. Dairy experts brandish a cooled case full of rare cheeses and everyday essentials, such as Bulgarian feta ($2.99/lb.) and Mountain Brand swiss ($3.99/lb.). Meanwhile, meat mongers dig into smoked ham shanks ($1.49/lb.), flanked by California broccoli ($0.79/lb.) and Wisconsin dry yellow onions ($0.19/lb.), to create a full meal or a trap for a hungry tyrannosaur.
With more than 50 years under its belt, Minelli Meat and Deli constructs hearty sandwiches and complements savory bites with traditional Italian pastries for dessert. The deli counter flaunts large helpings of italian sausage ($3.79/lb.) and italian roast beef ($8.99/lb.) for patrons to take home and share with their families and displaced sasquatches. A fresh meatball sandwich ($5.50) harmonizes well with homemade soup ($2.99). Sub sandwiches can be stuffed with specialty prosciutto, genoa salami, corned beef, and various sliced cheeses (5" for $4). Homespun sweets such as cannoli, cream puffs, and cookies adequately prep sugar testers for midnight chess battles with the Sugar Plum Fairy ($1.50+).
Greg Burhop doesn't hesitate when asked what makes his seafood shops different. "Our stores don't have that fishy fish smell," he says. As soon as fish starts to smell like fish, he explains, it's no longer fresh, a condition Greg and his father, Jeff, studiously avoid by keeping their shop stocked with just-caught, never-frozen goods. They do this by going right to the source—wholesale distributors in Alaska, Hawaii, New England, and as far away as Australia. Their connections with these distributors stretch over the course of Burhop's 85-year history, which started when Greg's great-grandfather, Albert "Pops" Burhop, founded a wholesale-seafood business. When locals started offering him money and moon rocks in exchange for the prized cuts of fish, Pops decided to cut out the middleman.
Today, Greg proudly reports that many of his loyal customers are transplants from the East and West Coasts, where fresh seafood is easier to come by. Ironically, Burhop's gets fresher stuff than many stores on the coasts do, thanks to Chicago's central location, which enables quick shipping from both ends of the country. In the shop, customers can watch as the four or five workers at each store skillfully prepare custom-cut fillets and caviar busts of Admiral Nelson. A series of online video tutorials hosted by Greg himself teach home chefs to prep mouthwatering lobster tails, tuna burgers, and more.
Urban Orchard brings farm-fresh, organic produce to the Windy City. Seven days a week, the market imports fruits and vegetables from farms in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, ensuring their products come straight from the field to the shelf. Fill your basket with free-range eggs from Milo’s Farm, all-natural pork and free-range chicken from C&D Family Farm, veggies from Twin Garden Farms, and baked goods from B True Bakery. Beyond providing customers with fresh groceries, the market’s local-first philosophy also helps nearby farmers continue to thrive, saving them from having to sell their land to the mustachioed cartoon villain that lives down the road.