Maxwell Street Market

The place for regional Mexican cuisine

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By David Hammond

Maxwell Street Market is easy to get to from Oak Park, and it’s one of my favorite food zones in the city.

I think you should visit.

I went to the old Maxwell Street Market (the one that used to be on the namesake street) in around 1966: it’s changed a lot since then.  At the old Halsted and Maxwell intersection, there was once Jim’s Original (purported home of the Maxwell Street Polish);  now, there’s a Jamba Juice…and many upscale shops along with bronze statues of the poor folk and bluesmen who used to live in the neighborhood before the condos came.

The Maxwell Street Market is now located on Desplaines, between Roosevelt and Harrison, and it’s one of the best places in the country to sample a spectrum of regional Mexican cuisine. For those whose appreciation for Mexican chow begins and ends with the burrito, I’d strongly recommend cruising the market for Oaxaca-style tamales, birria from Jalisco, and huaraches from Mexico City. For under ten bucks, you can try a lot of region-specific specialties. You can also pick up a pair of tube socks, a t-shirt emblazoned with the Virgin of Guadeloupe  or “used” construction equipment, if that’s what you’re into.

Last year, I prepared what I believe is the only guide to the Maxwell Street Market; it’s free.  The market is open every Sunday morning of the year – it’s a pleasant walk from the Green Line (my route) or you can get close on the Blue Line from Oak Park.

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