Finally! It's warm. We Chicagoans know to absorb as much of this rare weather as possible, which is why there's no reason to huddle inside a grocery store for fruits and vegetables -- not when you can shop for carrots and coconuts in the sun. The first of Chicago's outdoor farmers markets began this month, with more to follow in the coming weeks.
Here are a few to catch:
Green City Market: This year-round market, one of the city's produce gems, came out of hibernation this month and will stay outdoors in Lincoln Park through October. But the Green City Market isn't just a place to get your beets and basil. It has made itself a family destination, where parents can take their kids to the market's Edible Gardens at Lincoln Park's Farm-in-the-Zoo, where little ones can learn about eating what they plant. Or take the kiddos to Club Sprouts, which give them the chance to take hands-on cooking classes. Foodies can sit in on demonstrations by the city's most respected chefs, like Paul Virant of Perennial Virant, Martial Noeguier of Bistronomic and Melisa Trimmer of C-House. And for a little fun, pick up a scoop or pint of sustainable ice cream from Snookelfritz Ice Cream Artistry. In season at Green City Market are asparagus, basil, rhubarb, green onions, lettuce, radishes, sprouts, lettuce, sorrel and arugula. "The trouble is that the Midwest season is two weeks behind with all the rain that we've had and because we've had no mid-tone heat," said Abby Csanda, marketing and communications coordinator for Green City Market. "It's just been jumping from 40 to 80 degrees. So we just tell people to expect things, well, when they're ready."
Green City Market runs from 7 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Edible Gardens kids' programs run from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. on market days and Club Sprouts from 9:30 a.m. - 10 a.m. starting June 15. Chef Demos run from 10:30 a.m. - 11 a.m. on market days. Snookelfritz is at Green City Market from 7 a.m. - 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Lincoln Park at 1790 N. Clark, now through Oct. 29
MCA/Streeterville Farmers Market: Want a little art with that? The quaint market outside of the Museum of Contemporary Art offers novel chocolate breads, tasty lunch dishes like noodles and wraps, along with fresh apples and tomatoes. Grab some lunch from one of the tents and sit on the MCA steps, people-watching amid Streeterville's idyllic trees and sidewalks on Mies van der Rohe Way. If you have a little time, venture into the MCA to check out its special exhibit on Mark Bradford, an artist expressing a kind of urban sociology and anthropology through his work.
Market runs from 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Tuesdays from June 7-Oct. 25.
MCA Plaza, Chicago Avenue and Mies van der Rohe Way.
Daley Plaza Farmers Market: There's plenty of room to stroll and sprawl out at the Daley Plaza Farmers Market, with its tents set up in a wide semi-rectangle surrounding a wide space that includes the multi-spigoted Daley Plaza fountain. Farmers and merchants, overlooked by the towering steel Picasso sculpture, come from all over the Chicago area -- and other Midwestern states, too --- to sell their pickles, bagels, apples, pastries and jams. Pick up some european treats from Delightful Pastries or some aged cheddar from Stamper Cheese Company, plus loaves of whole grain and cinnamon breads from a half dozen bakeries. In season right now are blueberries, green beens, peppers, sprouts, tomatoes and potatoes.
7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Thursdays at Daley Plaza through October 20.
Logan Square Farmers Market: The Logan Square Farmer's Market is arguably one of the best markets in the city. After picking up your organic strawberries and amazing French bread, stroll down Logan Boulevard, set up a blanket and chill among the locals. Despite some drama involving the market's permit, it is still scheduled to kick off on June 5.
10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sundays at 3107 W. Logan Blvd. through October 30.
Lincoln Square Evening Farmers Market: If getting up at 6 a.m. for the freshest pick of produce is not your thing, don't fret: the Lincoln Square Evening Farmers Market may just be your thing. The market doesn't start until 4 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m., making it perfect for an end-of-workday jaunt. When it opens in June, you'll find pies, pizza and peppers and everything you need to munch on or cook with at this market with a neighborhood vibe.
4 p.m. - 8 p.m. Thursdays from June 16 - Oct. 27
Lincoln Square, 2309 Leland Ave
South Shore Farmers Market: You may spot an abundance of Cubbie blue among the Green City and Lincoln Square market crowds, but you'll be meandering for your plums and pineapples in full-blown White Sox territory at the South Shore Farmers Market. The market takes over the parking lot of Urban Partnership Bank, located seven blocks west of the South Shore Cultural Center, every Wednesday starting in mid-June, welcoming South Siders (and yes, those North Side Cubs fans, too) who want to peruse for produce outdoors.
7 .am. - 1 p.m. June 8-Oct. 26
Urban Partnership Bank parking lot, 70th and Jeffery Blvd.
Bonus Market: Pritzker Park, home of last year's gigantic 30-foot eyeball sculpture, will host one of the city's newest farmers markets. The market will be a bit smaller than its Daley Plaza neighbor to the north, but it will have enough aged cheese, cucumbers, zucchini and melons to satisfy any inspiring cook.
7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Tuesdays June 14-Sept. 27
Pritzker Park, 344 S. State