With more than 75,000 products to choose from in a space that is a 1/10 mile long, the new Whole Foods store in Lincoln Park is just plain daunting. You could spend an hour in the produce section alone. But I'm here to eat, and drink a little too. A long bar up front gives you a chance to grab a beer on tap before or after shopping and that bar theme seems to replay itself frequently. There's a fantastic trail mix bar, which lets you assemble fruits and nuts as you wish. There's also a chowder bar, where you can have a glass of sauvignon blanc and some lobster chowder, and maybe some peel 'n eat shrimp. Check out the street signs, and walk over to the sleek wine and cheese bar, where you can sample a flight of wines or cheeses - their Midwest selection is especially impressive. All this eating makes you wonder, how does one shop?
"You can buy your food with your regular groceries, or if you would like to sit down and eat and then go grocery shopping, you can do that as well," said Maya Discianno, Whole Foods Culinary Coordinator.
I opt to keep eating. Some pastries are made on-site, but others are made by some of Chicago's best bakeries and brought in each day. As you make your way to the back of the store, there are a number of grab 'n go eating options. A fast-casual Japanese noodle station offers hearty soups and freshly-made sushi assortments; a slow-smoked barbeque kiosk cranks out ribs, mashed potatoes and corn muffins. There's even a 1950s-style diner, complete with grilled burgers and thick malts made with Homer's ice cream.
"We've got the Pilsen Taqueria, Taylor Street Pizza. We like to look at it as all of Chicago in one place. We try to take different neighborhoods throughout Chicago and really highlight the different cuisines," Discianno said.
So let's see, I've had wine, cheese, trail mix, chowder, tacos, pasta, and sushi. And now, of course, I've got to grab some gelato, which is naturally made on-site. Oh and by the way, they have groceries here as well, so maybe I'll go do some shopping now.
Steve says there's also a sub sandwich kiosk, and two hot food bars, plus a salad bar.
1550 N. Kingsbury