Porchetta Sandwich at Becker Lane
It's hard to miss the Becker Lane stand this year. All you have to do is follow the smell of roasted pig wafting over the whole market. For the past few weeks, the local pork producer has been cooking whole middles right in the market, which are then sliced up for a porchetta sandwich ($12). It's an epic dish, featuring thick slices of the meat, offset by crunchy cabbage and tender bread. Thanks to the crispy bits of skin and nice pieces of fat, this is not a light experience, so you may want to share. That said, you shouldn't leave without grabbing a few complimentary pork rinds or potato chips cooked in lard.
Zeppole at Zullo's
Doughnuts! Well, actually these little guys from Zullo's are called zeppole ($4), an Italian cider doughnut. Whatever you call them, they are surprisingly light and airy, and only sprinkled with enough sugar to make them slightly sweet. Roughly the size of gold balls, they are perfect fried option to nosh on while picking up armfuls of fresh kale.
Market Burger from Sunday Dinner
I've enjoyed just about everything that the Logan Square-based catering company Sunday Dinner has served at the market. (I wouldn't mind seeing those egg sandwiches make a return.) But its tastiest and most popular dish is definitely the Market Burger ($10), which comes topped with green garlic mayonnaise, horseradish cheddar, and arugula, all on a freshly baked bun. That's all well and good, but I probably wouldn't care if it wasn't for the beef. Featuring an impressively caramelized crust from the hot charcoal grill, the freshly formed patty comes out extra beefy, with just the right amount of seasoning. I should also point out that the picture above is only half of the burger, so though it looks like I could easily pinch this burger, it's actually a handful.
Farm Fruit n' Nut Wrap at Tiny Greens Organic Farm
Farm Fruit n' Nut Wrap ($10) at Tiny Greens Organic Farm is one of those items I normally would never order had I not challenged myself to eat something from every stall. Featuring a "sprouted wheat tortilla" along with alfalfa clover sprouts, toasted pecans, goat cheese, honey, and fresh strawberries, this could have been a disaster. What I didn't expect was for it to be so indulgent, messy, and filling. The tart strawberries played well against the goat cheese, and the tortilla, though crumbly, did work well with the other ingredients.
Grilled Portabella Sandwich at River Valley Ranch
I can't say that I've had too many great mushroom sandwiches in my life, but the grilled portabella sandwich from River Valley Ranch manages to work for a few reasons. First, the mushroom comes off the grill juicy and a little smokey, not charred and dry. Second, you can amp up the flavor with a potent caponata, which lends a briny and creamy presence to each bite.
Sweet Mint Ice Cream at Snookelfritz Ice Cream
Because the market is out in the open of Lincoln Park, there is nothing to protect shoppers from the elements, be it rain or excessive heat. When it's the latter, your best bet is probably to stop by Snookelfritz. Thick, smooth, and delicately flavored, Nancy Silver's ice cream is some of the best I've sampled in the city. Thing is, you can only experience such flavors as roasted strawberry-brown sugar and sweet mint (pictured above) at selective farmers' markets around town, including twice a week at Green City.
Strawberry Soda at Seasons Soda
One of the newer food stands available, Seasons Soda serves carbonated beverages with no added sugar. Instead, the drinks are flavored with fresh pressed fruit and herbs from Midwest farms. At first the lack of sweetness in the Strawberry Soda ($5) is a little bitter and bracing, but after the third sip or so, you start to really appreciate the complexity of the fruit.
Tamale at Las Manas Tamales
As I found on a roundup of tamales in Chicago, the offerings at Las Manas exhibit a lightness that no other place in town can match. Though $6 a piece, they are plump and filling, especially the braised beef tamale pictured above. One of these hand-tied beauties will keep you full for long enough to load up on all your other shopping needs.
Strawberry Smoothie from Seedling Fruits
Our resident sweets expert, Kate Bernot, already wrote about this one, so I'll just let her describe it:
Behind the line of blenders and fruit crates, you'll likely find the affable Peter Klein, Seedling's farmer and owner. There, he and a team are blending their signature cider, a just-sweet-enough drink made from the juice of the farm's hand-picked apples, which are milled by Seedling themselves. The cider is cold-pasteurized and never heated, so it never loses any of the apples' original sweet-tart flavor. To the cider base, Klein and crew add just a few more simple ingredients: ice, fresh fruit, and maybe some mint if you request it. Right now, Seedling's farm in Michigan has produced a beautiful crop of spring strawberries—small, deep red, and bursting with juices.
Strawberry Crepe at Abby's Crepes
Named for Green City Market founder, Abby Mandel, Abby's Crepes has been a fixture at the market for years and almost always has line. The best crepes I've sampled have all highlighted in season fruit, including this very good strawberry crepe ($8).