The indoor portion of the Downtown Market is called the Market Hall and it is open all year round. Inside, there are a number of vendors, and if you know where to look you can find vegan goods.
But first, a word of caution. When you walk in, especially if you enter at the east door, you will be met with a VERY strong smell of fish. Fish Lads, a seafood vendor, is located just inside and the scent is pretty overpowering, to say the least. It seems like it’d be pretty off putting even if you are a seafood lover!
Ignore that smell and proceed to these vegan-friendly vendors!
Dorothy & Tony’s popcorn may very well be the best popcorn you’ll ever have. Specializing in kettle corn, no trip to the market would be complete without grabbing a few bags. One to eat and one to give away. The recipes are a family secret and there are several varieties. Just stay away from the obvious non-vegan flavors like white cheddar.
Field & Fire creates old world artisan bread. Everything that goes into their wood-fired ovens is lovingly handcrafted by workers who are passionate about their product. Field & Fire makes it so easy to eat vegan also. All of their ingredients are listed on their website, and everything vegan is marked clearly making it simple to find the right bread for you. You’ll find familiar varieties like French baguettes, ciabatta or several rye varieties. You’ll also find some you may not be too knowledgeable about that we suggest you try! A few F&F staff members are vegan and are working on developing something (hint, it’s not bread, and it might be filled with chocolate and said best with a French accent) for us to get really excited about.
Two words. Vegan truffles. We heard they had them, but we were surprised to find they had a few flavors. We tried them all (don’t judge): marzipan, pear ginger, blueberry, and apricot. We were also told that most of the dark chocolates are accidentally vegan, so be sure to ask if it’s not labeled as such. This is not cheap chocolate, the truffles set us back $2.50 a piece. But worth it for a special treat! There have been days we’ve been in an seen only one vegan variety, so it seems the quantity fluctuates.
Love’s Ice Cream makes some of the the best ice cream, dairy or not, that we’ve ever had. Love’s creates small batches of artisan ice cream by hand. Everything at Love’s is made with quality ingredients that are local, healthy, and organic whenever possible. For instance, one of our favorites, the Cinnamon Roasted Nut is made with a combination of cashew and almond milk that they make on site. There are usually 3-4 vegan flavors at any given time (and sometimes more). You won’t find boring flavors at Love’s. Some others favorites include the Coconut Chip, Cherry Amaretto and Rosewater Cardamom gelato. Sometimes there are even vegan cookies on the counter!
You can’t ask for a healthier pick me up than a shot of wheat grass or a freshly squeezed juice packed with plant protein. We suggest grabbing one of these before walking around the market so that you can sip on it while you discover the other vegan treasures the market has to offer. For an energy boost, grab a Do The Hustle (carrot, apple, parsley) or if you’re feeling a headache coming on, order an In-Law (Carrot, beet, apple, grapefruit). Malamiah also makes its own peanut and almond butter that can be purchased, as well as cleanse packages and catering.
Making Thyme offers ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat entrees, soups and sides, and fresh salads. We haven’t seen much in the way of vegan hot dishes being offered, but there’s almost always a few deli items you can grab like Kale salad. One time we found these vegan black bean brownie pops!
One of three location in Grand Rapids, Old World definitely has a product in high demand! There are over 20 flavors of olive oils, over 30 flavors of vinegars, and a handful of gifts and accessories that you can purchase. They also offer taste testing so make sure you have time to stop and browse for a bit.
Just to the west of Fish Lads is Relish Green Grocer. Relish offers an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. If it is local, it’s labeled as such, and there’s a decent amount that is. There are also a lot of Michigan made products, like McClary’s Bros. Drinking Vinegar, BLis sherry vinegars, McClure’s pickles, and nut butters. There’s also an area of kitchen gadgets.
If you consider yourself a flavor aficionado, this is the gourmet spice and seasoning shop for you. Before you can see Spice Merchants, you’ll probably smell it. Rich flavors and aromas start teasing your nose the closer you get. If you’re not sure how to use their products, their website has a list of recipes and suggestions to get you going. They also offer a selection of pickled items and teas.
Sushi Maki has a little counter to sit at where you can order sushi from and grab a quick bite. There are a few vegan rolls. Those are avocado, cucumber, asparagus, and vegetable (cucumber, avocado, pickle, seaweed salad, and lettuce). They also serve a house salad, a seaweed salad, and an avocado salad.
Who doesn’t love a good burrito? Tacos El Cuñado serves up authentic Mexican fare so you’ll find tacos, tostados, and burritos on the menu. There are veggie versions of all that you order without the cheese. Additions are chorizo tempeh (highly recommended), avocado, and cactus. We like the Vegetarian Taco Duo: two tacos served with beans and rice, lettuce, and tomato. Add tempeh, avocado or cactus (nopales) to make it a filling meal. There’s also a salsa bar with hot sauces, pico de gallo, and pickled hot vegetables. Since this is authentic, everything is a bit spicy so use caution!
T&C has been packaging and preserving Michigan made preserves, jams and jellies, honey, and syrups since 2011. You’ll find more than the usual suspects like strawberry jam or blackberry preserves. Get barrel-aged maple syrup or raspberry jalapeño jelly – one of their more popular flavors.