The Midwest has established many of the best farmers markets in the country, providing locally grown seasonal groceries, including organics, along with shopping experiences that connect shoppers with farmers in their communities. Now, food halls are joining in on the fun. Often housed in historic or industrial locations, food halls offer a delectable range of local and international dishes, funky bites, and custom beverages to sip, sample, savor, and please everyone in your group.

A vibrant summer tradition in Iowa’s capital, the Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market extends across seven city blocks, with the historic courthouse as a backdrop. Supporting farmers, growers, and artisan food entrepreneurs from around the state, the market is open on Saturdays, May through October. Vendors offer locally grown fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat, cheese, wine, seasonings and dressings, bakery goods, and more. Stands sponsored by the Spark DSM (Greater Des Moines) Minority Business Incubator help underrepresented and marginalized business owners get a foothold at the market. Next, venture to The Hall, a food hall in a refurbished railcar building. At Iowa’s only food and beverage hall, Kitchen DSM—owned by The Justice League of Food—provides diverse menus including German fare, burgers, and pizza, along with 54 wines and beers on tap.

Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market, Des Moines, Iowa;
Credit: Catch Des Moines

The St. Paul Farmers’ Market is legendary, presenting locally grown produce since 1854. While the main location is downtown, the market also runs in five counties six days a week. The family-friendly destination includes a variety of local vendors that provide an abundance of fresh, quality, local fruits and vegetables, flowers, and meats and cheeses—in addition to bakery and beverage stands. Across town, adjacent to the University of Minnesota’s East Bank campus, is the Market at Malcolm Yards in the restored Harris Machinery building. Here, your group’s taste buds can travel the world with plentiful global-fusion food options. Don’t miss the self-serve tap wall dispensing beer, wine, and nonalcoholic drinks.

In Chicago, Illinois’ Lincoln Park, West Loop, and Avondale neighborhoods—all locations for Green City Market—vendors offer fresh produce, delicious food, and unique wares. Along with vegetables, fruits and nuts, meat and seafood, breads, cheeses, eggs, honey, jams, pasta, sauces, and vinegars, the markets provide ready-to-eat sandwiches, pastries, pies, soups, take-and-bake pizza crusts, tofu salads, and quiches. Also in the West Loop is From Here On, a sister to long-time food hall Revival in the city’s Old Post Office Building. From Here On offers guests delicious eats and custom cocktails, plus a patio overlooking the Chicago River.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Fulton Street Farmers Market, established in 1922, has been connecting farmers, food creators, and artists to their community for more than a century. Open on Saturdays, May through October, the market provides an array of products including fruits and veggies, dairy and meat, snacks and desserts, prepared food, and handmade arts and crafts. Meanwhile, Market Hall, a downtown indoor venue, is open seven days a week, offering multiple dine-in, carry-out, specialty grocery, and retail options from a culinary collective of butchers, bakers, ice cream-makers, and more. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert are all available—with lots of room for group events.

By C.L. Lefevre

Main Image: Green City Market, Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois; Credit: Green City Market/Tess Graham