No matter the season or what the weather is doing, to me any Saturday is perfect to go to Eastern Market. On our most recent visit the sky was light blue, colorful leaves were still clinging to trees and the market was decked out in Autumn’s glory. It was just a couple of days until Halloween and pumpkins were plentiful, from pie-sized to fully painted we had our pick. Huge bins were piled high with any variety of gourds or squash you could imagine. As we walked from shed to shed the sweet smell of apples filled the air; Gala, Fugi, Mutsu, Honeycrisp, and Pinata to name a few. Did you know Michigan grows more variety of apples than any other state? Baskets of them covered the table tops of individual vendors creating a sort of rainbow of apples.
It is the end of the harvest in the Great Lakes State and here the yield was gathered and available for purchase; potatoes, peppers, red onions, and the last tomatoes of the season. It wouldn’t be fall without apple cider, would you like it hot or cold? Indian corn, pomegranates, and mass quantities of mums are a delight to see. Buskers perform in and out of sheds, the one-man-band was simply amazing playing several instruments and singing Detroit versions of old Folk songs. The somber notes of the saxophone player hung in the chilly air as passerby’s dropped money into his red-lined instrument case. Giant apples decorated by local artists stand in the center of aisles celebrating the fondness of this much appreciated fruit.Every weekend brings something new and it’s always a good time.
Besides the market itself, this area is also lined with produce and specialty food stores, antique shops, restaurants, and a great little boutique on Riopelle called Savvy Chic. Take a peek inside this charming home decor shop; there is always a wonderful candle scenting the air, items are placed in a thoughtful and pleasing way throughout the 2-room shop. There are pieces for entertaining at home, hostess gifts, unique jams, jewelry and scented soaps and lotions. There are pieces of furniture both new and repurposed, cards, and books. Take your time as you browse so you don’t miss anything, it’s a nice mix of old and new pieces.
We had built up our appetite walking around, so we stopped in at Vivio’s for lunch. The Vivio family has been feeding market-goers in this location for over 40 years. The first thing most folks think of when you mention Vivio’s Food and Spirits is a full pint of Bloody Mary served with a generous slice of dill pickle and a shot of beer along side it, and it’s easy to see why. I don’t think there was a single table that did not have at least one of their famous cocktails. The building itself has a homey feel to it, like when you were a kid and you’d visit you Aunts and Uncles for large family gatherings, The decor runs the gamut from vintage Budweiser and sports memorabilia to animal heads and collectibles. Stained glass lamps light the room along with a large stained glass piece over the bar. Service is quick and friendly even when there’s a crowd. We had the Pastrami Burger, one of their specialties; an Angus burger topped with pastrami and melted Swiss served on a baked pretzel roll with a side of McMahon’s Irish ale mustard, it makes for a nice combination of flavors, they give you a stack of fries along side, add some soup and there’s enough for two.
We had one more stop to make before heading home, Rocky Peanut on Russell. Established in 1969 in Historic Eastern Market this family business is known for, you guessed it, fresh roasted peanuts. They purchase their nuts directly from the growers and then roast and season them in a number of different ways, each being fresh and delicious. Stop in and have a look around, besides nuts they sell many items in bulk; spices, dried fruit, grains, and baking supplies. The most popular section has to be the bulk candy area; from the old favorite Swedish fish, giant jaw breakers, Hershey kisses, to retro favorites like Bit-O-Honey, no wonder sweet-tooth’s flock here. Recently added is a section of specialty made in Michigan products, I highly recommend Brownwood Farms Cherry Honey Mustard; great for dipping pretzels, but you have to try it on a sandwich! Whether your looking for an old favorite like Bosco, or you need a pinch of that seldom used spice you can find it at Rocky’s.