More than a few months ago I was in Illinois for a house-sitting job and to visit with family and friends. While there for several weeks I had the opportunity to shop and visit some of my favorite stores from when I lived in Illinois. Today I’m here to share them with you, enjoy!
Today I’m reviewing—hands down—one of my favorite Chicago area grocery stores of all time, Cermak Fresh Market. If I’ve ever raved about another store and called it my favorite, I momentarily forgot that Cermak holds the honor.
If you are in the Aurora-Naperville area and don’t do your weekly grocery shopping here, things need to change.
Benefits of shopping at Cermak
- Incredibly affordable produce, it might make you question your Sam’s and Costco memberships
- Exceptional quality of conventional produce
- Variety of produce, Cermak carries many vegetables that can only be found at Asian/ethnic grocery stores
- Carry many items you might be going to Whole Foods for, i.e. Bob’s Red Mill, almond milk, soy milk, frozen tropical fruit, Thai young coconuts
- Seasonal finds are near the entrance of the store
- Fantastic selection of dried beans, unique dried foods, lentils (dal), rice, and canned goods (like Ro-Tel and tomatoes)
- All the greens you could imagine: cilantro, basil, turnip greens, kale, Swiss Chard, rainbow chard, mint, parsley, bok choy, sum choy, baby bok choy, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, romaine, spinach, and MORE
- House-made guacamole and salsa (verde salsa, pico salsa, mango/tropical salsa – I will say the guacamole has been hit or miss the last few years)
- Local Aurora corn and flour tortillas – they’re with the other tortillas, just do a little digging and label reading
- Easy location to get to, at Indian Trail and Lake St/Rt. 31
- Great parking (although it gets busy after work and on the weekends)
Going to Cermak for the first time is such a life changing experience that I have a difficult time trying to remember where I shopped prior to Cermak. In 2008 after Jeremy and I married, we moved back to Batavia from Geneva. We lived on the east side and did most of our shopping at a neighborhood grocery store that was a half block away. We could walk to that store which was great, but the produce wasn’t always the best and that’s where Cermak came in.
I honestly never would have thought about grocery shopping outside of the town I live in unless it was Costco, but when my friend was raving about this store and the prices, I knew I had to check it out.
My favorite thing about Cermak and why I give it such high marks is because of their produce section. It is massive and smart-stocked. As they stock the produce in majestic towers, they systematically go through and only stock the good produce—this is all done very quickly I might add—which is why in the summer you can close your eyes, reach in and pick out 6 tomatoes without looking.
Mountain after mountain of glorious produce.
I don’t know why Thai young coconuts are more affordable and easier to find in the midwest versus the Pacific Northwest but they are. Cermak almost always has young coconuts for $1.99 or less. I could hardly ever find them while living in Portland and they were always $4.99 or higher.
Going through the produce you have the chance to try many foods you may have never even heard of before. Like these malanga lila.
There’s also the opportunity to touch up on your Spanish. I was excited to try another ‘new to me’ vegetable and picked up a batata. I later learned batata is Spanish for sweet potato. Mind you they also had a section of sweet potatoes so this may have been a different variety. 😉
Seven pound bags of beans for under $4.00. If you’re looking to save money and time, use my bean-prep method and find beans like this to get started.
Pick out something you’re not sure about and google it when you get home to see what fun cooking adventure you’re about to begin. I bought these tamarind pods and made tamarind paste (tomorrow’s post).
Cermak also carries things you won’t have any interest in buying but they are still interesting to look at. I had never in my life seen MSG before.
Since we were house-sitting for a few weeks, we stocked up on some essentials.
Cermak Fresh Market is located at 1250 North Lake Street, Aurora, IL 60506 and also at 856 Illinois 59, Naperville, IL 60540.
I hope you enjoyed seeing into one of my favorite grocery stores, writing this only made me miss it that much more.
Have you ever been to a Cermak or have a similar store near you? I would love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and have a great weekend!