Apr 8, 2022 - Things to Do

Market Watch: Maxwell Street relaunches

Junk on a table at a market.
A Maxwell Street vendor sells old license plates, used glassware, and a football at one stand last Sunday. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

👋 Hey, it's Monica. I'm a longtime fan of Chicago's century-old Maxwell Street Market — now technically on Desplaines Street.

  • I was super sad when it shut down during the pandemic but thrilled to see it relaunch, so I went to review the weekly market's first Sunday back.
Tshirt for sale at a market
Sunday's selection included this rockin' Queen T-shirt. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

The wares: With only about 20 booths, the Sunday pickings were slim.

  • Bric-a-brac included old clothes, headphones, used kitchenware, Spanish Bible storybooks, second-hand bikes, jugs of hand sanitizer, and old tools.
Pastor spit of meat
The Maxwell Street Market featured just one taco stand on Sunday. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

The food: Where there used to be more than a dozen Mexican food stands, Sunday's market featured only one.

  • I didn't jump in the long line, but the pineapple-topped pastor meat and freshly made tortillas smelled delicious.

Note: This is the first in a series of local market reviews. Reply and tell us about your favorites.

Guy selling cookies
Anthony Price sells his homemade tasting cookings. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Food alternatives: Until Maxwell Street rebuilds its formerly great Mexican offerings, rely on these neighborhood faves for a post-market meal.

Bright spot: I did buy cookies from local baker Anthony Price, who has developed "special recipes for CPS-style butter cookies, oatmeal, chocolate chip, and peanut butter cookies," he says.

  • I loved his cream cheese frosted oatmeal cookies even though inflation forced him to hike the price from $5 to $7 for six.

The crowds: Diverse families, friends, and couples looking for a snack and a bargain.

The bottom line: While there is something absurdly charming about the mishmash of weird junk here, the overall vibe was disappointing.

  • Maxwell has withered into a shell of its former self and needs to get its mojo back.
  • Speaking of mojo — the market's usual blues guitarist was also absent Sunday.

If you go: Sundays from 9am to 3pm at 800 S. Desplaines St.

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