Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Single best food store


rgruby
 Share

Recommended Posts

So, what's the best single food shop where you are? What does it do the best? How does it stack up against other places you've seen in your travels?

I'm gonna be the curmudgeon here (my favorite role). If you live in a city that offers a single food shop on the order of D&D or Zingerman's or DiBruno's, odds are you don't need it. That's because you'll have tons of specialty shops that do what they do better (and most likely cheaper) than the uber-store. What the uber-stores offer is convenience: you want lox and gelato? They'll have them, and they will be good, but at a price. As for me, since I have a surplus of time here in Philadelphia, I'd rather make separate trips to The Famous and Capogiro.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think that's too crumudgeonly, Bob. After all, DiBruno's started as one of those latter variety of food stores -- they were cheesemongers, pure and simple. Over the past decade or so, they first expanded and upgraded their selection of cheeses, then added specialty condiments (olive oils, balsamic vinegar...), then added prepared foods to go, then took their act from the Italian Market (where they still have two stores) to Rittenhouse Square and put everything on steroids last year with the new Chestnut Street store.

However, Downtown Cheese in the Reading Terminal Market matches and in some places surpasses them on fancy cheeses and cured meats, and Salumeria in the same place sometimes beats them on price on items both stores carry.

I don't think there's anything like Capogiro anywhere else in the country.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well than, Philadelphians, tell us about Capogiro - never heard of it and curious to find out. Sounds Italian, sounds like a salumaria...what else?

Capogiro is a gelato shop, not a "food store" per se, but many of us in Philly have become so entranced by their product that we start believing that gelato is really the only food we need.

But back on topic, somebody had to say it: Wegmans in Pittsford, NY.

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have many good markets here in Seattle, most notably Pike Place Market, home not only to many amazing fish, meat, fruit & veggie vendors, but also to more than a few lovely eateries with some fantastic views thrown in for good measure.

We also have several Metropolitan Markets (formerly Queen Anne Thriftway) and the now demised and may they RIP Larry's Markets. But we also have huge asian markets (both Central Market and Uwajimaya) AND we also have the wholesale places that happen to have retail outlets: Mutual Fish and Pacific Food Importers. The importance of these last two can not be overstated :cool:

Not to mention our own little Carniceria El Paisano, a mexican meat & grocery market, selling the most amazing chiccarones! And we can't forget World Spice, where you can find any and all of the freshest spice & herb mixtures; and our beautiful bevy of farmer's markets, some of which run year round.

Interestingly enough, when I go to prepare a special meal, I still end up making multiple stops to find all the ingredients... but somehow, I don't mind, and I do think that's part of the joy of it all.

Born Free, Now Expensive

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well than, Philadelphians, tell us about Capogiro - never heard of it and curious to find out. Sounds Italian, sounds like a salumaria...what else?

Capogiro is a gelato shop, not a "food store" per se, but many of us in Philly have become so entranced by their product that we start believing that gelato is really the only food we need.

But back on topic, somebody had to say it: Wegmans in Pittsford, NY.

Is there something unique about the Pittsford Wegmans?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't believe Jungle Jim's hasn't been mentioned yet -- specialty markets will beat it in their own category (though I've been in many wine shops with a smaller selection, and even more Asian markets with less to offer), but the sheer breadth of inventory is ridiculous enough that I'm always disappointed when there's something I can't find -- and then it often shows up on the next visit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok. Deep breath.

In another thread I opined that a shop in my hometown might be one of, if not the best, single food shop in North America.

Geoff--DO end the torture and tell us what the shop is in your hometown, willya? :laugh:

Fwiw, the two places that popped in to my mind were the Berkeley (CA) Bowl and Wegmans. Probably the Princeton NJ store, only because it was my virgin trip, and I was SO blown away. Then again, the brand new (week-old) WF in West Orange NJ is the WF version of Wegmans, so I'd have to throw it in the mix, just for sheer size and a stunning fish department...

--Curlz (the supermarket-aholic, who comes by it via her DNA) :wacko:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is there something unique about the Pittsford Wegmans?

It's their flagship store, and so it's like most of their newer mondo-mega-stores, but plus a little. All the new stores are pretty spectacular, but this one seems to be consistently stocked better, have especially good staff, etc. The last time I was in there the fish counter was pushing halibut cheeks...

Probably the most distinctive difference is that it has a full-service restaurant, attempting serious cuisine.

It's just a Wegmans, but this one goes to 11.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well chillun, I must tell you that reading this thread was GREAT fun....know why?

'cause this old guy enjoys you finding out what I've known (and railled about) for years.

The supermarkets are NOT there for US...they are there for the Twiggies of the world. WE who DINE (perhaps to often) understand what is really good, and are prepared to go from place to place to get just what we want.

My dear old Dad taught me that on Sunday mornings in Boston years ago.

We went to Boston Bagel for "hot ones" just out of the oven, somewhere else for the hand cut lox, still another stop for the scallion cream cheese and still another for "Fig ends." These are the trim edges of fig bars, but purchased by the bag for (literally) pennies. There were other stops, these were just hi lights.

Was it the adventure, or was each place JUST what Dad wanted that matched his specs for that item? To this day I'm really not sure, but it was an opportunity to spend a morning with a father who worked many many hours AND to wind up with a marvelous brunch.

So, I do the same and have a daughter who does too. DNA, I guess.

Ted Task

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my opinion, Central Market (particularly the original on Lamar and 41st in Austin) is the best grocery store I have ever been to. They have the high-end items and the not so high-end items. I have never, ever gone in there looking for something and not found it. The employees are friendly and knowlegable. It's simply a great store.

From time to time, I've had issues finding some really bassic, normal items at Central Market. (Plano location). One example is long grain white rice. They didn't have it. They had all types of stuff. But not that. The closest they had to what I wanted was Uncle Ben's converted white rice. And I didn't want converted rice. Just normal, long grain white rice. Had to pick it up at a regular grocery store.

I have never been to one, but from what I hear from friends, the Wegman's chain (I think that is the name of it) is like CM, but seems to be a little better. I'd really liek to see one some day.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In this part of the world, central NJ, Wegmans is the place to shop. The other local options are Pathmark, A&P, Kings and Shoprite. There are some Italian delis, small butchers and fish stores in the area, but the quality at Wegmans pretty much beats what they have.

KathyM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only problem with Wegman's (and I presume it goes for any grocery chain store) is that what they stock can differ by location. Thus, while you might find some exotic fresh foodstuffs at the Pittsford NY or Princeton NJ branches, don't expect to find everything everywhere. That said, they're a great chain.

I'm with Fatguy - I loved the old Balducci's. Right now I'm falling in love with Fairway, although their produce is only just okay if you're used to shopping at the greenmarkets.

In England, I loved the Waitrose chain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Berkeley Bowl.

Any place you walk into and can find literally 40 kinds of tomatoes is a winner in my book.... A close second (and first in some areas) is the Monterey Market....I've found that their seasonal and local produce tends to be as good if not better, and cheaper, but their bulk foods section wins me over for all the carbs I consume for cycling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Everyone pretty much agrees, no one store is going to do everything well.

But, if we took away any one shop, would it make life significantly more difficult?

For me, if I'm back in Vancouver (okay, not in "The Country" but.....), I always include the big Chinese T&T supermarket over on East 1st on my back and forths between Kits and the North Shore. Good butchery (especially for pork), excellent live seafood tanks, extensive produce - with a lot of hard to come by items - bbq'd pork and fowl, and a reasonably good selection of SouthEast Asian and some Western goods.

Can I find foie gras? Nope. And they're charcouterie isn't something to talk about. But would I cry if it went away?.....

Probably.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't been to any of these stores on the East or West coast, but I think Jungle Jim's and Wegmans are both impressive. I definitely prefer the big warehouse-y stores to the boutique food shops, mostly because my bank account can only take so big a hit on a specialty grocery run.

If anyone else reading this is from the Cleveland, OH region surely there are other supporters of Miles Farmers Market? I think they have awesome produce and a good selection of other things (wine, olive oil, bakery, an olive bar) as well. Also, their bakery, in my opinion, produces the greatest loaf of rye bread in the universe. I have eaten half a fresh-out-of-the-oven loaf during the drive home from the store.

I would also submit the West Side Market in downtown Cleveland, if the rules of this contest extend to the multi-store enclosure category.

Dan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love the Nino Salvaggio store here in metro-Detroit. They built a rather large, elegant looking store by us right after I moved back to America. I was nearly brought to tears strolling down the isles for the first time. All my favorite foods from Europe were there, along with lots of new and exotic things to try. I love my big super center Meijer, but this store has all the really fun things like an olive bar, cheese bar, fine wines(the gentleman working the wine section is sooooo helpful). I could go on forever. While I'm sure it's nothing compared to places in New York City, it does the trick for me until I can travel again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because we live in an area that is way too rural to have much of any market to speak of, I feel that I can bend the rules just a bit and mention areas that we go to to find what we like.

A nice grocery run for us is to West Hartford so we can hit Trader Joes and Whole foods (no wine at TJ's though). This trip is about 120 mile R/T for us. If we are looking to add wine to the mix, it's Framingham, MA. This trip also includes TJ's and WF within a block radius and is about a 150 mile R/T. Either of these destinations will include items like dry aged steak, cheeses, fresh sardines (in season), Gus's pickles, Gulf of Maine shrimp (also in season) and whatever fruit looks great. I got some Asian pears at WF last weekend the likes of which I have never seen or tasted ever before.

We try to get to Manhattan about once a month and there is no question that Fairway and Citarella on the UWS are our absolute favorites. We always include an end of the day trip up there to load up on things like olives (stuffed with almonds are one of our favorites) olive oil ( I love the try a taste of each space at Fairway). We usually get some little fruit tarts at Citarella. We also go to Balduccis and Zabars, but we don't think of them as 'must go to' like the dynamic duo of Fairway and Citeralla.

I know part of the fascination for us is just seeing all that is available and recognizing that by choosing to live in the country as we have, we denied ourselves this bounty before we even knew it was there, but C'est la vie.

I think what I am most envious of is the selection of fish in NYC. I never buy any because of the difficulty of schlepping it back to CT, but I would kill to have such a nice selection that I could choose from just on a seafood whim! You guys in the city have it so good that it just isn't fair.

Cheers,

HC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I must second Jungle Jim's. Great meat. A shocking produce section, bigger than most supermarkets. Live fish. Good bakery. Unbelievable international foods, including the biggest oriental section in the country. HUGE wine & beer selection. We make a 200 mile round trip to get there....'nuff said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think what I am most envious of is the selection of fish in NYC. I never buy any because of the difficulty of schlepping it back to CT, but I would kill to have such a nice selection that I could choose from just on a seafood whim! You guys in the city have it so good that it just isn't fair.

Cheers,

HC

Chris, buy a cooler and fill it with ice and bring your fish back home.

PS: love your tag line.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...