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The 11 Best International Markets In Chicago

By Staff in Best Of on May 7, 2014 8:30PM

Chicago is home to a vast array of different cultures, and with them the delicious cuisines that each bring to the table. If you are craving a dish that reminds you of your or your ancestors homeland, chances are you can find it somewhere in Chicago. Or at least find the right spot to pick up ingredients to make it in your own kitchen.

Today we share some of our favorite shops across the city where we enjoy picking up some of the best ingredients, snacks and dishes from around the globe. As always, share your favorites that we missed in the comments so we can continue our own culinary shopping spree of the city.

(Joong Boo's kimchi aisle by Jessica Mlinaric)

Joong Boo Market
Joong Boo Market is my go-to for most of life’s necessities. Stroll the kimchi aisle, slurp from a steaming vat of soon du boo, get amped up on Korea’s favorite energy drink and even purchase pajamas or a rice cooker in the home goods section. The affordable Avondale market is always buzzing, so I avoid the weekend crowd and aim to grab a seat in the cafĂ© during weekday lunches. Don’t miss the outdoor dumpling stand introduced earlier this year; $2 for a spicy pork and kimchi dumpling bigger than your fist? Anyoung haseyo! —Jessica Mlinaric

Joong Boo Market is located at 3333 N. Kimball Ave.

La Casa del Pueblo
Even with the incredible number of Mexican restaurants in Chicago, we still love cooking the cuisine at home, too. And fortunately, living in Chicago, we never have to worry about finding ingredients listed in recipes, whether coming from Rick Bayless' TV show, friends who are chefs in Mexico or elsewhere. When we need ingredients from south of the border, our most common stop is La Casa del Pueblo in Pilsen. This grocery store has an extensive produce section with a large selection and lower prices for Mexican staples like avocados, limes, cilantro and tomatillos. They even arrange the avocados and plantains by ripeness, so you can find the perfect ones for later that day, or ones that'll ripen to use in a couple days. The market also offers a vast selection of Mexican cheeses, countless varieties of dried chiles and spices common to Mexican food. The grocery shelves are lined with Mexican ingredients, snacks and ready-to-prepare foods like cans of pozole and beans, Bimbo cookies and containers of mole. The meat counter offers cuts traditionally used in Mexican cuisine, as well as prepared foods like carnitas, barbacoa and rotisserie chickens that are way more flavorful than those from the mainstream groceries. La Casa del Pueblo also carries fresh tortillas from a number of local tortillarias, and you're most likely to finds ones still warm to take home for your Mexican feast.—Benjy Lipsman

La Casa del Pueblo is located at 1810 S. Blue Island.

Erickson’s Delicatessen
One of the few places in Andersonville that still has authentic Swedish foods and strong ties to Sweden is Erickson's Delicatessen. Practice your Swedish with the staff and stock up on pickled herring, Bilar (strangely addictive Swedish marshmallow cars), an aromatic tea blend from the South of Stockholm called Söderblandning, ginger cookies, Swedish crisp bread (it’s healthier than regular bread and tastes delicious with cheese!) and other imported delicacies. It’s also one of the few places I know of where you can get frozen lingonberries. Sure, the lingonberry jam at IKEA is OK, but it’s too sweet to go on many classic Scandinavian dishes. The frozen unsweetened berries make excellent sauces for duck, venison and Swedish meatballs. — Melissa McEwen

Erickson’s Delicatessen is located at 5250 N Clark St.

Super H Mart
When it comes to picking up Asian ingredients, I head to Super H Mart in Niles. I realize it's a little bit of a hike north but fully worth it for the ready-to-eat panchan, marinated beef for bulgogi and tubes of delicious gochujang. Speaking of which... add the aforementioned ingredients to some hot rice, top with a fried egg and you've got yourself some bibimbop. You can watch them make fresh tofu, puffed rice crackers and sweet red bean pastries. Food is fresh, affordable and delicious. If you want to read more about Super H Mart, check out our previous write up with lots of delicious pictures here. —L. Stolpman

Super H Mart is located at 801 Civic Center Drive in Niles, IL, just north of the city.

J.P. Graziano Grocery
Before there was Eataly there was this Randolph Street grocer and sub shop, the oldest Italian market in Chicago. Current owner Jim Graziano is a fourth-generation grocer and stocks an impressive array of imported cheeses, meats, olive oils, dried goods, spices and olives. If you’re looking to brine olives, Graziano’s has everything you need. Same with making your own Italian sausage, salami, sopressata and other cured meats. Graziano’s also makes some amazing subs that, depending on how hungry you are once you step in, can be one or two meals. Think of Graziano as Eataly without the bells and whistles. With people lining around the corner to get into Eataly, that means more time for me to shop smartly in the West Loop. —Chuck Sudo

J.P. Graziano Grocery is located at 901 W. Randolph St.

(Devon Market by Jessica Mlinaric)

Devon Market
Located in one of Chicago’s most diverse areas, Devon Market offers a fantastic international selection in many respects. I visit, however, to get my fix of Eastern European-sourced fare. It’s not hard to find slivovitz (plum brandy) in liquor stores throughout the city, but I haven’t seen anyone beat Devon Market’s offering of wines from Croatia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Armenia and more. The incredibly friendly staff will help you track down fresh Bulgarian goat cheese, pickled vegetables from Hungary and those candies grandma kept in a dish. Don’t miss the freshly baked breads and pastries, and if potica (nut roll) is in stock buy a loaf for me! —Jessica Mlinaric

Devon Market is located at 1440 W Devon Ave.

Argyle Night Market
Last year, I made the mistake of not visiting Argyle Night Market until mid-September. A mistake because with night markets comes an almost illicit pleasure, as you can’t typically buy fresh fish balls, tomatoes and pho after dark in the open air. Thursday nights in Little Saigon are equal parts farmers’ market and ethnic street fair, with Eastern handicrafts for sale side by side street performers, pork fresh off the spit and your pick of produce. This year marks the outdoor bazaar’s second season and promises an expanded list of vendors beyond beloved staples such as Sun Wah BBQ and Tank Noodle, giving all of us more reason to visit early and often. The only hitch? The fun doesn’t begin until mid-July. —Melissa Wiley

Argyle Night Market is located at on Argyle Rd. between Sheridan and Kenmore.

Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen
If your childhood was filled with sausages of mysterious origin, various items stuffed with meat and other European favorites then you can find a taste of home at Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen. Gene’s first opened in the early 70s and mainly catered to the large Polish population in Chicago, carrying a wide range of sausages and deli meats. They’ve expanded over the years to include delights from all over Europe, including a lovely selection of German fare I’m familiar with from my own German grandmother’s kitchen. I can grab some Weisswurst to cook up with some spaetzle, nibble on perfectly baked soft pretzels, grab a forkful of pickled herring or a spoon of German potato salad made just like my Grandmother’s version. And during the holidays they are a great resource for picking up some lebkuchen to leave out for Santa or some stollen to enjoy. Besides my German roots they have a wonderful selection of imported European snacks, drinks and prepared dishes as well. And soon you’ll be able to head up to the roof and enjoy a beer and sausage before shopping down below. Starting any grocery trip with a tipple and a bite sure beats fighting the lines at Jewel. — Lisa White

Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen hast two locations, the original shop at 5330 W. Belmont Ave and their Lincoln Square location with rooftop bar at 4750 N. Lincoln Ave.

Kamdar Plaza
The better-known Patel Brothers has a better selection of fresh foods, but for dry foods and other Indian cooking supplies, this is a great place to check out. If you’ve fallen in love with South Indian cuisine and want to cook it yourself they have essentials like idli steamers. It’s never too crowded so it’s a great place to browse spices and different types of rice and pulses. As a bonus they have a small mini-restaurant selling delicious Indian street food known as chaat. —Melissa McEwen

Kamdar Plaza is located at 2646 W Devon Ave.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali brought a bit of his Italian evangelism to Chicago last year with mega-store Eataly. Located smack in the middle of the downtown tourist vortex, it’s become more of a destination than just a grocery store. The top floor is divided up into restaurants (more like stations) for La Birreria (beer), I Salumi e Formaggi (meat and cheese), La Pizza & La Pasta, Il Pesce (fish), La Focacceria (bread), Le Verdure (vegetables), Vino Libero (wine) and more. Filled in around these stations are aisles full of pastas, vinegars, olive oils and counters to buy the meat, cheese, fish and booze you were just sampling. Downstairs is home to the espresso bar, lines of cookware, enough gizmos and gadgets to rival a Crate & Barrel and the sweet stuff -- pastries, gelato and the NUTELLA BAR. Yep, Nutella Bar. The 60,000+ square foot space can be intimidating, so we recommend heading straight upstairs when you walk in, grabbing a glass of wine or beer and then wandering around for a bit to decide what you want to splurge on today. —Jennifer A. Freeman

Eataly is located at 43 E. Ohio St.

Richwell Market
Fans of Chinese cooking looking to get fresh fish, seafood and Chinese vegetables have long held this out of the way complex where Chinatown and Pilsen intersect close to their vest for fear of letting massive amounts of people in on a secret. (Sorry: the cat is now out of the bag.) I’ve managed to buy fresh-cleaned fish, crabs, lobsters and other seafood here as well as stock up on soy, hoisin and fish sauces, dried spices and seasonings and other Chinese cooking staples. The food court is small but worth checking out, as well. If you arrive early the buns are among the freshest in the city. —Chuck Sudo

Richwell Market is located at 1835 S. Canal St.