Your Guide to Eastern Market: Winter Edition

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Eastern Market mural restored. Daily Detroit File Photo

Looking for a place where you can get quality local produce and handmade crafts? Head over to Eastern Market. Located just north of Gratiot near downtown, Detroit’s most diverse marketplace has been in business since 1891. Visiting the area during the Saturday Market is a unique experience that the entire family can enjoy, even in the winter months.

Getting There

There’s no need to wake up early to visit the Saturday Market; however, if you want to beat the rush, you can start shopping as early as 6 a.m. The heart of Eastern Market is located around 2934 Russell Street. Major roads around the district include Gratiot Ave, Fisher Freeway, Chrysler Freeway, and Mack Ave. There’s plenty of parking around the marketplace. Lots are located near each shed, and a parking garage is available for more convenient parking.

Navigating the Market

If you’ve never been to Eastern Market, you may want to find the welcome center, located at at 1445 Adelaide between Shed Two and Shed Three. There, you can pick up a map of the market, which details the locations of vendors, restaurants, parking lots, and bathrooms. You can also find downloadable versions of the map online.

You’ll definitely want to bundle up if you plan on visiting Eastern Market in the winter. The marketplace is divided into five sheds. Some of them are open air, and some are heated; however, you probably won’t need to take off your jacket while you’re inside. To get from one shed to another, you’ll generally cross a street that’s closed to cars.

I would consider the market a family-friendly place. Walking through the sheds with a stroller and a fourteen month old was fairly easy. For the most part, I stayed within the flow of people walking from one stall to the next, but there were a few places where I could pull out from the crowd and check on my little one. There is definitely enough activity going on to captivate younger children, at least for a while.

Eastern Market

What to Buy

Visiting Eastern Market for the first time can be a little overwhelming. There are tables after tables after tables filled with all sorts of goods: Jalapeños, avocados, blackberries, maple syrup, beef, pork, bread, candles, jewelry, and flowers. The vendors stand behind their tables hawking their best deals. The smell of fresh herbs wafts through the air. People wander from table to table, stopping to inspect a jar of salsa or a sack of potatoes. It’s easy to get caught up in the foot traffic inside a shed.

I’d suggest making a list of the items you intend to buy to give yourself a little bit of direction. However, with all the goods offered at the market, you’ll more than likely end up buying two or three items you didn’t anticipate discovering. The best items to include on your list are meat and produce. The prices for pork seemed to be more reasonable than many chain grocery stores offer, and the produce selection at the market was diverse and affordable.

Corned beef connoisseurs should visit Grobbel’s at 2500 Orleans for exceptional deli meat. When you get hungry, you can pop into the shop’s restaurant and enjoy a mouthwatering sandwich. Another place to find quality meat is Randy’s Sausage, located at 1429 Gratiot. If you don’t have time to make a trip, you can shop online and have your order shipped to your home. Produce lovers can check out Greg’s Fruit and Vegetable Stand at 1483 Winder. For more information, call 313-693-6625.

If you want to decorate you home with authentic Christmas garlands and wreaths (no fake leaves or pine needles here), Eastern Market is the place to go. There were numerous stalls full of breathtaking decorations. Woven garlands, freshly made wreaths, posted poinsettias, and even Christmas trees were displayed outside.


Hungry Yet?

Shopping isn’t all you can do in Eastern Market. If you plan on spending the better part of a day there, you may want to consider grabbing a bite to eat at one of the restaurants in the district. Russell Street Deli has just added breakfast to their delicious menu, so if you find yourself in Eastern Market in the morning, check out their new additions. For drool-inducing burgers and steaks, visit Cutter’s Bar and Grill at 2638 Orleans, and if you want to sink your teeth into one of Detroit’s best pizzas, hurry over to 2457 Russell Street and visit Supino Pizzeria.

You can get a full list of the unique restaurants located around Eastern Market here.

Make Grocery Shopping Fun

Going to a Saturday Market is definitely a great way to make shopping a bit more lively. There’s an air of excitement and bustle in the marketplace that grocery stores lack. Besides, you can find some great deals on locally-grown produce that tastes just as good, if not better, than what’s offered at chain stores. If your innterested in learning even more about Eastern Market? Visit the website.

After you’re through getting some awesome deals on food and crafts, check out a bar (or two) in the area. If you want to enjoy some live music and great food, check out Bert’s Entertainment Complex at 2727 Russell Street. Sports fans can catch a game (and plenty of drinks) at Thomas Magee’s, 1408 East Fisher Freeway. However, if you crave superb Bloody Marys, visit Vivio’s, the Eastern Market’s oldest bar, at 2460 Market St.

Who said grocery shopping couldn’t be fun?

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