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As year-round iced tea drinkers, we?re thrilled about the just-opened tea bar at the massive new Mariano?s in Bucktown. There, you can buy Mariano?s own house line of 15 loose-leaf teas--think tangy Sicilian blood orange green tea and soothing French lavender white tea. But the real reason to go is for the weekday high tea service ($20 per person, 2 to 4 p.m.), which with comes with cookies, pastries and cute little sandwiches.
2112 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-342-6585 or marianos.com
The health focus at Wicker Park’s Plenty extends all the way to three Chicago-made flavors of Arize kombucha, which are served on tap. (Bring your own container to fill up for 25 cents per ounce or buy an empty flip-top bottle for $1.50.) Arize’s signature blends of herbs and teas make it taste fresher and cleaner than the prepackaged competition.
2036 W. Division St.; 773-270-1509 or plentygoodfood.com
Near West Side shop Green Grocer is known for stocking organic, seasonal fruits and veggies from nearby farms. Sounds pricey, right? Not when the produce is ripe and nearing the end of its shelf life--then Green Grocer sells them for 50 percent off. And when the goods are just past their prime (but still usable), they’re sometimes just totally free.
1402 W. Grand Ave.; 312-624-9508 or greengrocerchicago.com
Charming Bucktown grocery Olivia’s Market just began stocking entrées and sides from Artisanal Wilmette, a similarly adorable shop on the North Shore. When your fridge is empty and you don’t feel like eating out, grab meals like corn-tortilla-and-chicken enchiladas with red-chile rojo sauce or roasted chicken with goat-cheese mashed potatoes ($11).
2014 W. Wabansia Ave.; 773-227-4220 or oliviasmarket.com
Plum Market?s Madeline Triffon was the first female Master Sommelier in America, and the programs she puts together for the store?s Old Town wine bar are no joke. Bone up at classes like next Thursday?s showcase of sparkling wines from Napa?s Schramsberg Vineyards (tickets, $20).
1233 N. Wells St.; 312-229-1400 or plummarket.com
We could--and sometimes do--hang out at the gigantic Whole Foods in Lincoln Park all day. When cocktail hour rolls around, we head upstairs to the tucked-away Red Star Bar, where you don't have to fight crowds of hipsters to sip upwards of 100 rare and craft beers like Ravenswood brewery Begyle's earthy Let It Go rye beer ($5 for a pint). Go for the bar's lineup of pumpkin brews and brown ales this fall.
1550 N. Kingsbury St.; 312-587-0648 or wholefoodsmarket.com
You have a free afternoon, and the city is yours. You could see a fall flick. You could go on a bike ride.
Or you could do a little grocery shopping, which--thanks to some seriously upscale stores around the city--we now consider more entertainment than chore.
Check out our slideshow to find the hidden perks (like high tea and discounted produce) at our favorite Chicago markets.
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