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Restaurants & Bars 3

Mariano's

Querencia | Oct 26, 2011 03:01 PM

Mariano's has been open (as per store guy) three weeks. In case I was not the last person to hear of it, Mariano's is quite possibly the best grocery store downtown. It is kind of hard to find---I had to ask a doorman---located in a courtyard behind and just east of 300 E Randolph approximately at Columbus. It is big, has two stories, and combines the produce and meat presentation of WholeFoods and the bakery of Fox & Obel with (not always but sometimes) the prices of Trader Joe's and even Aldi's. The street level has bakery, produce, meat and fish, deli, more deli, flowers, ready-to-eat, and a big eating area so you can dine upon what you just bought. Stunning salad bar is $4.99 lb. Bakery knows its neighborhood---a single can buy two slices of Sourdough Rye rather than the whole loaf. Service bakery croissants are 75 cents and not the $3.50 required in some bakeries I won't mention. This morning I bought a 12-oz container of organic red raspberries for $3.99. In spite of some low prices there is a feeling of luxury; I saw monster sea scallops, fresh oysters, gorgeous veal, Long Grove chocolates, six kinds of grapes. They carry Neuske liver pate' and bacon, previously available only at F&O. Lower level (elevator takes shopping carts) has dry groceries, frozen, wine & liquor, even more deli, and ethnic-international. Cereals that I priced, also Pepperidge Farm bread, were 25% lower in price than at Jewel. No telling if low prices are in effect now to lure new customers. Manufacturers' coupons are doubled on Wednesdays. At noon today what appeared to be the entire workforce of Aon and Prudential was trooping into Mariano's in groups of 20-30 looking for lunch. I don't know the parking arrangement. During rush hour the Madison 20 bus waits at the corner and all the time the 60 Blue Island stops in front, both going into the heart of the Loop and other connections via Madison and Washington. I mention this because Mariano's is definitely worth a CTA trek if you don't live next door to it and lack personal wheels. AND THERE'S THIS---a block east of Michigan, en route to Mariano's, I noticed a Wildberry that also seems new (pancakes and crepes that on their website look tempting, lovely for breakfast.

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