West Side Market
Corner of West 25th and Lorain in the Ohio City Neighborhood
Bite: the perfect winter sandwich.
By Beau Cadiyo
Even in April, March ice was on the streets. Sonny, a friend from college who then became a Marine Corps officer, had just gotten back from Fallujah; we were hungover in a way that felt even and accomplished.
Sonny was so tense from the war that he wouldn’t sit with his back to a door, so dealing with the lottery-ball-like movements of the West Side Market must have required great self-discipline. I benedicted the fruit row and then we moved quickly through the vegetables; his shoulders were up and his head was down while I created a path through the muppies and hawkers. We lefted through the side aisle and crossed to the main hall.
There are two stalls, Franks Bratwurst and Franks II. Franks Bratwurst always has a line, and Franks II often looks abandoned. We headed for the latter, where the guy behind the counter jumped at the attention.
I got the regular with sauerkraut, Sonny got the Italian with mustard. There are no tables – one can walk up to the gallery and sit on long benches, but if you don’t want to find the stairs then the only flat surfaces are the tops of the trashcans. The bread was a lesson in staging; you shouldn’t have supporting characters who compete with the lead. Anything but bland would have detracted from the tender, spicy sausage, bursting but not dripping with flavor. Sonny’s was better and we got two more. Upon tossing the napkins under our table, the market began to feel almost Christmaslike, and we were the center – two old friends, bundled up in a high-ceilinged, busy market in the wintertime, with full, warm bellies, satisfied.