Last visit May 2013
The new Maxwell Street market is a misnomer as it's not on Maxwell Street at all. And for that matter, doesn't even resemble the market I remember being on Maxwell Street. The original market area, which was on Maxwell Street, was taken over by the expansion of the University of Illinois-Chicago campus so the market was moved over to Canal Street and then another move to Des Plaines Street, between Harrison and Roosevelt Road.
I never visited the original market in it's prime, by the time I saw it, it was dirty and nasty with folks selling mostly stolen goods such as radios and hub caps, household products and junk. The market is still selling most of that same stuff but it's not dirty or scary anymore.
Open from 7 am - 3 pm
Free street parking is a thing of the past in this area, south of Roosevelt you can park for $1 an hour up to 3 hours, north of Roosevelt it's $3 an hour. There are lots of store lots in the area but they are probably agressive about towing, especially on Sunday.
What to buy: The reason we come here is the awesome Mexican food, served hot and fresh, most of it priced in the $2-4 range. Most of the vendors have restaurants in Pilsen or other areas in Chicago, they do booming business at the weekend market. Huarches, an oblong fried masa base with either carne asada or chorizo, are my new favorite but everything we try is good. Manolo's is always a good bet, Arroyo's was delicious. We didn't try Rubi's but based on the really long line of people standing in the rain, they are a market favorite. We always stop by The Churro Factory blue wagon on our way out for freshly made and filled churros, $1.25 each. Usually they even throw in an extra churro when we order 5 or 6.
Caveat Emptor-If you are looking for cheap Chicago tshirts priced at $2-3 or hats priced at $5-7, this is the place although they may be of dubious quality and origin. You can also find some jewelry, CDs, videos, etc. but once again, check that packaging carefully.
If you're looking for a flea market like Portobello Road in London or Marche Aux Puces in Paris, this is not the place. There are some tables set up with used goods, some may even be antiques, but the goods are mostly new-lots of socks, tshirts, hats, fruit, household items like shampoo and toothpaste.
Open air market on Canal and Roosevelt Rd. Open every Sunday of the year!!! This is a perfect place to take a stroll and meet some of the locals. Browse past the stalls of fresh fruit, vegetables and candies... Shop at the tables full of stuff for sale! You can find almost anything here -- if you're in the right place at the right time! I usually look at the CDs, DVDs, clothes, and books, but there are many other items as well! Bring a lot of single bills in cash -- you never know what you might find!
You can also stop here and have an authentic Mexican meal where there are many different restaurants set up. Try some steak, chicken or pork tacos, tamales and have some horchata (rice milk). Have a genuine meal for a real deal!!!
What to buy: In Chicago, most people buy T-shirts or sports caps for souvenirs. Our sports teams are the Chicago Cubs or White Sox (baseball), Chicago Bulls (basketball), the Chicago Blackhawks (hockey) and the Chicago Bears (football).
What to pay: $1 - $20 or ???
Every Sunday morning the Maxwell Street open at 8am sharp. Although one time located on Maxwell Street it has been since relocated to Canal and Roosevelt.
You will find a variety of goods down there ranging from fresh fruit, cloths, bags, clocks to auto parts.
Some of the items that you will find are used and others.... well... probably not theirs, however they will still sell it to you anyway.
What to buy: What I like about this Market is that it truly reflects the different ethnic cultures that make Chicago what it is today.
What I enjoy is the food market there, if you have never been to Mexico and been able to enjoy street food, I recomend that you make a stop here. You will be treated to what I feel is the closest thing there is to authentic Mexican street food. The food is greasy, often times over cooked opr cold and is absolutly delicias.
What to pay: Like Mexico, you must bargin for everything