LAKEVIEW — From pancakes made with popcorn to hand-rolled pasta, the Low-Line Market is back and packed with unique options for your picnic in the park or backyard dinner party.
Now in its fifth year, the Low-Line Market will have a rotating list of vendors selling handcrafted and artisanal wares next to tables piled with freshly picked produce under the Southport Brown Line "L" station at 3411 N. Southport Ave.
Last year, the market expanded with the unveiling of the Low-Line Plaza, which included an extended walkway under the CTA tracks. Eventually, the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce wants to join the plaza with a walkway under the tracks that leads to the Paulina Brown Line station at 3410 N. Lincoln Ave.
"Fortunately, the farmers market is doing very well," said Dillon Goodson, the chamber's community development manager. "So the idea of activating the space underneath the train maybe doesn't seem as unusual as it did five years ago."
The Low-Line Market will run from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays through Oct. 26. Vendors will be added as the season progresses, and not all vendors will be present each week.
So far, 19 vendors are expected to participate. Here are a few details about them:
1. Cookie Yum: The Lakeview-based Cookie Yum has been a staple of the Low-Line Market since its inception. Owner Brigid Novak often experiments with produce from her fellow Low-Line vendors, trying out new recipes the following week, like a peanut butter and jelly cookie made with fresh strawberries from Lyons Fruit Farm.
Cookie Yum treats are always available at Lakeview Kitchen and Market, 3109 N. Broadway.
2. Elsie Mae's Canning and Pies: A Kenosha, Wis. favorite, the family-owned Elsie Mae's has been selling a wide range of pies at Low-Line Market for several years.
Along with frozen pot pies, mini fruit pies and a vast assortment of jams, Elsie Mae's also makes lemonade, relish and Bloody Mary mix. Favorites from reviewers online include a bacon bourbon pecan pie and a dandelion jelly.
One Yelp reviewer claims that Elsie Mae's goes through 200 pounds of butter each week as the bakery makes its buttery pie crust.
3. La Farine Bakery & Cafe: In its 12-year history, La Farine has hopped from suburban Palatine to Wicker Park to Avondale, continually outgrowing its locations. Now at 2909 N. Milwaukee Ave., the bakery serves up croissants, cookies and sticky buns fresh from the oven, along with lunch items like a rotating soup of the day, a vegan pepperonata panini or a tarragon chicken salad sandwich.
Considered an Avondale pioneer when it opened in 2013, La Farine began as a wholesale operation before it expanded to retail. Owner Rida Shahin got his start as a chemist before his quest for the perfect bread recipe led him to a new career.
"You don't see the result for two years in biology," Shahin explained on La Farine's website. "But in the bakery, you see a loaf of bread."
4. Paul Wayne: Also new to the Lakeview food scene is Paul Wayne, which got its start last year with gourmet cookies and specialty gifts. The start-up's namesake began with a quest for "that perfect bite" after tasting a life-changing chocolate chip cookie at a farmers market.
Based in Lakeview, Paul Wayne's signature style includes cookies with one side dipped in melted chocolate and sprinkled with trendy toppings like bacon and peppercorn or crushed Oreos.
Cookies are between $2.50 to $4 each or sold by the dozen, but Wayne also makes brownies, coffee dry rub and fudge.
5. Broad Shoulders Barbeque Sauce: First invented for a 1980s Ribfest contest in Chicago, Broad Shoulders Barbeque Sauce is the brain child of suburban Glencoe resident Mike Friedman and his son Jack.
In their first year, Broad Shoulders sold more than 1,000 jars of the barbecue sauce.
The family's smoky, spicy sauce is sold at farmers markets in Evanston, Wicker Park and Logan Square as well as the Low-Line. It can also be purchased online for $7.99 or at Southport Grocery and Cafe, 3552 N. Southport Ave., and Paulina Meat Market, 3501 N. Lincoln Ave.
6. Frank's Bagels: New to the Chicago scene, Frank's Bagels seeks to "improve Chicagoans' bagel experience."
Frank's will also be at the Lincoln Square Farmers Market.
Jenny Yang's tofu has been served at restaurants like Next, Lao Sze Chaun and Duck Duck Goat and was featured in a dairy-free cheesecake dreamed up by Eli's Cheesecake for Paltrow back in 2014.
In January, Yang got city approval to build a brand-new kitchen that will triple the size of her current space. She hopes to open a retail store there as well.
Phoenix Bean tests the limits of what tofu can do, creating fried tofu puffs, soybean milk, yuba (tofu skin), smoked five-spice tofu and a spicy tofu stir fry.
The tofu products can be found at grocery stores around the Midwest — including select Mariano's, Treasure Island and Whole Foods locations — and at 10 farmers markets in the Chicago area.
8. Sausage König: Crowning oneself sausage royalty ("könig" means king in German) can be a bold move, but owner Peter Andros backs up his title with creatively crafted bratwurst and sausages packed with every flavor under the sun.
From al pastor links to a curry brat to a spicy jerk dog, the specialty sausages are sold in one-pound packages of four links for $6.50.
For those who can't get enough of the kingly sausages, a subscription-based community supported agriculture plan costs $120 for six months of sausages that include exclusive monthly specials like lamb kofta or Spanish chorizo sausages.
Based in North Center, Sausage König will also attend the Andersonville Farmers Market on alternate Wednesdays.
Stamper makes its own small-batch cheeses from hormone-free milk from small family dairy farms. With more than 30 varieties of cheese, Stamper Cheese offers everything from the classic lunch box staple of mozzarella cheese sticks to a complex Italian-style bellavitano steeped in New Glarus raspberry ale.
Not sure what type of cheese you're looking for? Not only do Stamper employees at the farmers markets know how to help, but the company's website also lists pairing suggestions and detailed descriptions of its cheeses.
10. Tamales Express: Also in its fifth year, Tamales Express is a family-owned business specializing in handmade Mexican-style tamales and other traditional street foods.
Affiliated with Vegetarian Express at the corner of Clark, Halsted and Barry in Lakeview and at 4747 N. Damen Ave. in Ravenswood, Tamales Express serves up classic tamales like pork in salsa verde and steak or fish tacos for $3 at farmers markets around Chicago.
11. Urban Tables: What began in the kitchen of co-owner Autumn Williams in 2010 has grown into a weekly delivery service of affordable meals to Rogers Park, Edgewater and Evanston.
Along with a catering service, Williams and her business partner cook up boxed lunches, desserts and meals from a wide range of cuisines for $8.50 per serving. Customers can try everything from Moroccan lamb tagine to chiles rellenos to cornbread and greens.
12. Lyons Fruit Farm: Three generations deep, Lyons Fruit Farm has been growing produce in Michigan for decades. The farm also has a greenhouse where it grows bright blooms that are sometimes sold in bouquets next to cartons of berries, peaches and tomatoes.
A returning vendor to the Low-Line, the farm offers all the family-owned charm and juicy, just-picked produce one could want at a farmers market.
13. Fehr Brothers Farms: Over a century old, Fehr Brothers Farms specializes in black Angus beef, which some consider superior thanks to its marbled appearance and finer texture.
The central Illinois farm prides itself on keeping smaller herds that are bred on the farm and given the freedom to graze on pastures in central Illinois. With processing three miles away from the Eureka farm, cattle are saved the stress of traveling long distances and are never given antibiotics, hormones or steroids.
Ground beef from Fehr Brothers is $6 per pound, while steaks range from $15-$32 per pound. The farm also sells bison meat, pork and lamb.
14. Long Table Pancakes: If Bisquick doesn't cut it for your flapjacks, look no further than the small batch, hearty pancake mixes from Long Table.
Two expertly mixed varieties combine whole grains like almond meal, popcorn, soft red winter wheat, buckwheat and blue corn (mostly sourced from the Midwest) and are meant to create substantial pancakes that are high in protein but low in gluten.
Owner Samuel Taylor began experimenting with pancake recipes in 2010, when he hoped to impress an acrobat who needed a hearty-but-delicious breakfast (get the deep dive explanation here). The resulting pancakes became so popular among his inner circle that Taylor teamed up with his mother to launch the Lincoln Square-based Long Table.
Fans can buy Long Table pancake mixes online for $10 a box or find them at Lakeview Kitchen and Market, Provisions Uptown and farmers markets in Andersonville, Logan Square and Irving Park.
15. Garden Patch Farms: Less than an hour from downtown Chicago, Garden Patch Farms is a beloved pick-your-own farm in Homer Glen.
The 20-acre farm is set to return to the Low-Line Market with a variety of seasonal produce. Last year, the farm partnered with local businesses like Corridor Brewery to create special dishes like panzenella with freshly picked tomatoes.
With that in mind, Sitka Salmon hand delivers blast-frozen, vacuum-sealed fish straight from a community of fishermen in Sitka, Alaska. This month, Sitka Salmon opened in its third location, with a Schaumburg facility joining the Alaska processing plant and two offices in Galesburg, Ill.
"People shop their values now as much as they shop for price, and that's an important thing that Millennials have brought to the market place," owner Nic Mink told The Register-Mail last month. "It's something Sitka Salmon is well positioned to take advantage of because we understand that."
Those who want regular deliveries of Sitka Salmon can pay $79-$99 per month for a share of samplers containing combinations of coho, keta, king and sockeye salmon, whitefish like cod or bass and crustaceans.
But it's only at farmers markets where Sitka Salmon sells fish by the pound. Along with the Low-Line, the fishery attends farmers markets in Logan Square, Glenwood and Woodlawn.
Wilson fell in love with Italian cuisine while living in a small Tuscan village and offers personal chef services like romantic dinners for two, weekly meal services or dinner parties.
As part of her catering service based out of Lakeview Kitchen and Market, Wilson began to make her own pasta, and it took off. Vicini Pastaria now offers delicacies like truffle hazelnut tortellini and chive blossom lavendar fettuccine for $12 to $20.
She also makes pesto, ragú and hand-rolled meatballs.
Recipe testing a new flavor of #ravioli; Short rib-spinach. Turned out really well so I think this will go into the regular rotation! #recipetesting #shortribs #braisedbeef #handmadepasta #pastagram #pastalover #freshpasta #chicagochef #chicagosmallbusiness #smallbusinesslove #chicagoeats #chicagofoodie #eaterchicago #foodpics #foodstagram #instafood #foodporn #chicagofoodscene #pastalove #foodartisan
18. Lemaster Family Kitchen: Chelsi and Sean Lemaster spent years perfecting seasonings before narrowing it down to four mixes that can flavor a world of dishes.
Based in Logan Square, LFK makes a red curry mix, a barbecue rub, southern French country seasoning and a backyard blend that can be used as a marinade or dressing.
The seasonings are sold separately or as a four-pack set for $32. The couple has created dozens of recipes featuring each seasoning and participates in multiple farmers markets in Chicago, including the Ravenswood Farmers Market and the Nettelhorst French Market.
The seasonings are also available in several retail locations.
And so much more ...
19. WasteNot Compost: What's the point of enjoying sustainable seafood and local produce if leftovers end up in a landfill?
Not to be overlooked at the Low-Line is WasteNot Compost, a Lincoln Square compost collection service for homes and businesses.
Founder Liam Donnelly got his start working in a cafe, where he took the initiative to take home food and coffee waste and compost it in his backyard. When the cafe began to pay him for food scrap diversion, Donnelly saw an opportunity.
WasteNot supplies five-pound buckets for residents to fill with compostable waste, which the company collects weekly or biweekly for $10 to $12 per pickup around the North Side.
In a single weekend, WasteNot can divert more than 2,000 pounds of waste from landfills.
The company will have an information booth at the Low-Line Market with more details on composting.