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Kitchen of Dreams
Jill Jaracz


Let’s face it. Every basic apartment dweller needs a few kitchen utensils to get by, and those who like to cook need even more. You may not have enough money to outfit your kitchen entirely from Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, but you still need to have something to eat off of, right? How can you get the kitchen supplies you need at a price you can afford?

Your first option consists of going to cheap chain stores or outlets. Although outlet stores have a habit of being located in far-off places like Gurnee or Aurora, Crate & Barrel actually has an outlet store within the city limits—and it’s not that far from the Lincoln Park location of their full-priced store. Get all sorts of cool Crate & Barrel designs at a fraction of the regular price. Of course, sometimes that fraction isn’t much cheaper than the original price, but you’re still getting a bargain. Plus, sometimes they do have phenomenal deals that you can’t pass up

Krasny & Co.

Another reasonably priced chain store within the city is Cost Plus World Market. The store is stocked with all sorts of cool home supplies that come from around the world. They also have a great selection of glasses, dinnerware, gadgets, and cookware. Since their wares have a global focus, you’re likely to find things used in ethnic cooking, like woks, paella pans, and tandoori bakers. Plus, once you pick out your cheap wine glasses, you can saunter over to the wine department and stock up on some cheap, yet delicious, vino.

If you’ve got access to a car, you’ll probably want to trek out to the motherload of cheap house wares, IKEA. IKEA has two locations in the Chicagoland area, one in Schaumburg, and one in Bolingbrook. While they’re not exactly close to the city, what you’ll save by shopping here will more than make up for the money spent. And if you’re a member of iGo car sharing, you’re also entitled to a dedicated parking space near the entrance at the Bolingbrook store. IKEA is full of build-it-yourself furniture and housewares, with kitchen supplies being phenomenally cheap. The extra bonus is the hip Swedish designs that will liven up your house.

Viet Hoa

If you don’t want to make the trek but still desire something ethnic, try shopping at some of the ethnic stores in various neighborhoods around the city. In Chinatown, you’ll find bargains galore at Woks and Things. This tiny store is crammed with everything you need for Asian cooking. They’ve got dumpling steamers, chopsticks, huge ladles, and even some hardware supplies. Oh, and of course they sell a wide variety of woks, including woks so big they probably wouldn’t fit on your dinky apartment-sized stove.

For those on the North Side, try shopping in the Vietnamese markets along Argyle Street. Viet Hoa is a large Oriental grocery store that has a huge house wares section in its second room. Browse through shelves of basic china, dumpling steamers, and enormous stockpots. You can nab salad plates for just over a buck each, and you can get large platters for under ten bucks. Even better, they have stacks of china with Oriental patterns on them, so you can have cool Asian-themed dinnerware for a fraction of what it would cost in a regular store. Viet Hoa also sells a variety of electronic gizmos, but you need to ask to look at them because they’re locked up behind the cash registers.

Krasny & Co.

In fact, many ethnic groceries and markets will have some kitchen supplies, so it’s worthwhile to poke around. You can find rice cookers, fish roasters, sushi-making equipment, and fine Japanese knives at J. Toguri Mercantile Company, a Japanese general store in Lakeview. You can also get cheap tava griddles at Noor Meat Market, one of the many markets along Devon Avenue that sells products from India and Pakistan. While you’re on Devon, you’ll notice stores that are a hybrid of electronics, cooking appliances, and luggage. You can find some great deals in those types of stores, but if you’re looking for a more traditional kitchenwares shop, try Patel Brothers Handicrafts and Utensils. This small shop is divided into two halves.  One side offers all sorts of religious statutes, and the other half is where you go for pressure cookers, tava griddles, and utensils.

Another type of place where you can get sturdy, cheap cookware is from a restaurant supply shop. Although many supply stores only sell directly to businesses, some of these are open to the public. You may not find name brands, but most times you’ll find something similar to the retail brand name—only you’ve found it for a much better price. Though you may not be in the market for a mixer that makes enormous cakes, you’ll be able to find basic, sturdy supplies. 

Viet Hoa

One version of this type of store is Northwestern Cutlery. Many culinary students stock up on school supplies here, but this is the place to buy good knives. They sell all the big brands like Wusthof and Zwilling, and even though good knives do cost a pretty penny, you can buy them here for less than you’ll bet able to get them at a department store. Plus, you’ll discover that a good knife will last forever, so they’re worth the investment. This store also sells fun gadgets like sausage grinders, and they have bins of really cheap, restaurant-quality silverware. Where else can you find a dozen spoons for four bucks?  They’ve even got plenty of cheap supplies for baking. If you fancy yourself a chef, you can even buy yourself a chef’s jacket and impress your friends when you have them over for dinner.

The West Loop is also home to many restaurant supply stores, some of which are open to the public. Herzog Store Fixture Company on Madison Street is one of these. True, you may not be in the market for a commercial freezer or stove, but part of this store is devoted to gadgets, utensils, and pans. Find bargains like a serving spoon for $1.20 and shoot the breeze with the helpful staff.

Woks and Things

Krasny & Company is another restaurant supply store that’s open to the public. The store itself is kind of dark and gloomy, but this is the place to go to pick up party supplies. You can get decently priced plates, napkins, and plastic tablecloths in a variety of colors. You can also find some bulk food items at low prices, including large jars of spices and big cans of diced tomatoes, should you need to make the world’s largest batch of salsa. The only drawback is that Krasny & Company is not open on the weekends, so you’ll have to plan your shopping trips accordingly.

Don’t let a tight budget keep you from stocking up your kitchen. You may not be able to afford the gizmos at the fancy cooking stores, but if you go a little ways off the beaten path, you can still outfit your kitchen in grand style.

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