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Downtown Market Is the Latest Grand Rapids Jewel

by Lisa Diggs

A visit to the Downtown Market, one of Grand Rapids latest gems, conjures up images of one of Detroit’s best attributes, Eastern Market. The resemblance is palpable, from the long covered sidewalk that can fill with additional vendors for special events to the variety of entrepreneurs showcasing fresh foods inside. Even the neighborhood, which is a bit off the beaten path, with room to grow and revitalize, is similar.

Yet, where Eastern Market is much more expansive and steeped in tradition (in its current location since 1891), its new cousin, has all the advantages of the modern age. The Downtown Market is set to be LEED-certified, featuring a green roof, live walls, geotherm wells, rain gardens, and plenty of other innovative sustainable features. It includes state of the art rentable incubator kitchens, rooftop greenhouses, and even the nation’s first demonstration kitchen for kids.

Despite all these impressive amenities, the star of the show is still the food. You’ll find bakers, butchers, and fishmongers all eager to show off their wares. Unlike a grocery store shopping experience, there is ample seating throughout both levels of the building to encourage visitors to taste, buy, and enjoy right on the spot.

Aperitivo is a cheese, charcuterie, and wine shop, where you can sip and eat on site.

City Produce sells fresh products from a diverse group of local and Michigan regional growers.

Crescent Street Floral specializes in one-of-a-kind bouquets and special event arrangements, but you can still find a last-minute bouquet to pick up on the go.

Dorothy & Tony’s Gourmet Kettle Corn serves freshly popped corn, having relocated the operation from their popular Plainfield Avenue shop.

Field & Fire is a wood-fired bakery, specializing in rustic & flavorful breads, buttery croissants, and thin crust pizzas.

Fiesta Pantry offers discounted seconds of Fiestaware, a line of art deco inspired ceramic dinnerware glazed in bright colors. Pieces are sold at up to 75% off the suggested retail price.

Fish Lads is the dream of two veterans from the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle. They source local, freshwater fish from the Great Lakes as well as high-quality seafood from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, flown in fresh daily.

Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate handcrafts chocolates with a pinch of Northern Michigan. Local and/or organic dairy products, herbs, edible flowers, honey, maple syrup, berries and loads of other local/organic fruit & nuts are used whenever possible.

Love’s Ice Cream puts goodness in the tasty treat with handcrafted ice cream made from organic grass-grazed dairy. Organic non-dairy ice cream is available too.

Making Thyme Kitchen makes it possible to pick up dinner from “the Dinner Store,” in just five minutes. You can choose from fresh or frozen ready-to-cook entrées, sides, and desserts.

Malamiah Juice Bar creates fresh fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies from the produce of  local farmers. Juices and smoothies are freshly made to order every day and feature many different flavors.

Miss Maddie’s specializes in homemade pastas, pestos, and sauces, using local, organic ingredients.

Montello Meat Market is a family-owned and operated butcher shop that focuses on providing the products of old world butchery to the local community.

Old Word Olive Press is one of five Michigan locations featuring the freshest and most unique array of Pure Extra Virgin Olive oils and Balsamic vinegars from around the world.

Rak Thai offers bubble tea, egg rolls, noodle dishes, pork buns, rice dishes spring rolls, and stir frys with Thai and American influences.

Simpatico Coffee provides a low-acid, single-origin roast with a mission: to make a coffee that’s good for you and good for the earth.

Spice Merchants smells amazing and sells spices, spice blends, and teas.

Sweetie-Licious Bake Shoppe conjures up homemade pies, baked goods, preserves and comfort foods.

Tacos El Cuñado features Mexican street food and also sells Latin American grocery items, prepared meats, and meals to go.

Thornburg & Company makes preserves, jams, jellies, honey, and syrups, made the old fashioned way. Popular treats include whiskey-barrel aged maple syrup, earliglow strawberry jam, and raspberry jalapeño jelly. 

As one worker at the market remarked, “You can get everything you need under one roof.”

In addition to the opportunity to shop, linger, and relax, special events and cooking demonstrations are a regular part of the agenda, as are Outdoor Markets, which often include live entertainment.

The Indoor Market is open 9AM-7PM Monday-Saturday and 10AM-7PM on Sundays at 435 Ionia in Grand Rapids. Stop in and tell us what you think. 


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