Thursday, January 14, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things....#2

In the upcoming weeks, I'll be posting, in no particular order, my 10 favorite things to eat/see/do in Hyde Park, including businesses, parks, activities, you name it. A few days ago, I told you all about Jackson Park/Osaka Garden. Today, I want to tell you about Hyde Park Produce (1226 E. 53rd).

First off, I have a little confession to make that may be shocking to local readers... I've lived and/or gone to school in Hyde Park for about 8 or 9 years, but somehow never managed to visit the place until this year. I never had anything against it, I just always lived a little too far to walk and ended up instead grinning and bearing the crummy and over-priced produce at the (now-defunct) Hyde Park Co-op on 55th. Anyway, when I finally did make the (I know it sounds ridiculous now) 7 block trek to Hyde Park Produce, my world just turned upside down.

This place is amazing. The store is located in an admittedly blah strip mall but, once you walk in, it's a different story. The store is clean, well-organized, well-stocked, and full of piles of beautiful, bright produce of the same quality you would see at an outdoor farmers' market. You can find everything from your standard local veggies to exotic items like wild mushrooms, chiles, and bulk fresh herbs, all for shockingly cheap. Want to make some crazy complicated recipe from a Rick Bayless cookbook? You can easily find everything you would need here.

I was always under the false impression that the store only carried produce, but they actually have a pretty full stock of grocery items. You might not find every major brand name cereal that you look for, but you could very easily do all of your shopping here without having to go to a supermarket. The store also has a full gourmet deli counter, as well as prepared foods like soups, salsas, and tamales on the cheap.

I could go on and on, but maybe it's best I just point you to Hyde Park Produce's Yelp page, where the place receives absolutely glowing reviews.

A (teensy-bit political) Side Note: Some of you may be wondering why I would bother taking so much time to talk about something as mundane as a produce/grocery store. Besides wanting to promote a local business that I love, I also thought it was important to write about this place in particular because I want to dispel the misconception that Hyde Park is a food desert, or that we have less access to fresh foods than northsiders. I actually had a harder time finding cheap, high quality fresh fruit and vegetables when I lived in Lincoln Square than I do now! Of course, there is the broad and complex problem of limited grocery options on the Southside---which I won't even try to touch on here-- but I think Hyde Park Produce is a wonderful example of a place where southsiders of all income levels can and do come to buy fresh ingredients on a budget, and this makes me very happy.

No comments:

Post a Comment