One of travel’s greatest pleasures is wandering in food shops frequented by locals–whether it’s a supermarket, a cheese shop, or a spice merchant.
A busy market is a reprieve from the tourist’s whirlwind of restaurant-eating, where you can catch a glimpse of people’s everyday food lives.
Plus, the foods you buy to bring back with you (or smuggle back with you, as the case may be) extends the vacation into your kitchen.
In New York, we’re lucky that we don’t have to leave town to wander aisles like a tourist. We have Chinese markets the size of suburban Stop and Shops, and Middle Eastern market selling every conceivable sort of nut. We can find the same spicy potato chips that teenagers munch on in Delhi; buy the exact Italian bean, or shade of miso called for in a recipe.
We’ve limited our list to what might roughly be called grocery or specialty food shops–leaving dedicated cheese, fish and meat purveyors for another day and another list. We were thinking of limiting our picks to establishments that only exist in New York City–but then we realized that that criteria would eliminate places like Patel Brothers and H Mart. Nevertheless, we were extra-discerning when it came to chains. We also confined ourselves to the five boroughs–New Jersey requires a whole separate list.
Click through to find out which places scored a spot among the runners up.
Runners up, in rough order of preference:
Fei Long Market (6301 Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-680-0118)
Hong Kong Markets (Various locations, including: 157 Hester Street, 212-966-4943; 3711 Main Street, Flushing, Queens, 718-539-6868)
Han-Ah-Reum (25 West 32nd Street, 212-695-3283)
Bangkok Center Grocery (104 Mosco Street, 212-349-1979)
Nisha Indian Market (26725 Hillside Avenue, Floral Park, Queens, 718-962-1180)
Myers of Keswick (634 Hudson Street, 212-691-4194)
Holy Land Market (122 St Marks Place, 212-477-4440)
Udom Thai-Indonesian Grocery (81 Bayard Street, 212-349-7662)
Commodities Natural Market (165 First Avenue, 212-260-2600)
Pomegranate (1507 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-951-7112)
Citarella (2135 Broadway, 212-874-0383; other locations on UES, Harlem, and Greenwich Village)
Ikea‘s food market (1 Beard St, Brooklyn, 718-246-4532)
Domino Market (1824 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, 718-627-4008)
Nordic Delicacies, Inc (6909 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-748-1874)
Golan Gourmet Imports (1348 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-338-1040)
Click through to find out which establishments made the top 10 list…
1. Kalustyan’s (123 Lexington Avenue, 212-685-3451)
2. H Mart (2902 Union Streeet, Flushing, Queens, 718-445-5656, plus two other Flushing locations)
3. Buon Italia (75 Ninth Avenue, 212-633-9090)
4. Sunrise Mart (4 Stuyvesant Street, 212-598-3040)
5. Sahadi’s (187 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-624-4550)
5. Gold City Supermarket (4631 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, Queens, 718-762-7688)
6. Patel Brothers (Various locations including Flushing, Jackson Heights and Floral Park. Patelbros.com)
7. Zabar’s (2245 Broadway, 212-787-2000)
8. International Grocery (543 Ninth Avenue, 212-279-1000)
9. Despana (408 Broome Street, 212-219-5050)
10. Fairway Market (Harlem, Red Hook, and UWS locations. Fairwaymarket.com)
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 23, 2009