Food and travel go together like a glass of rosé and a good sunset. While grabbing a seat at the trendy restaurant du jour is usually on the agenda, getting a look at a local grocery is just as important. Want to feel like a local? See how they shop.
Here are a few of my favorite independent markets in U.S. destination cities. What are your favorites?
Los Angeles (Burbank): Handy Market
Rumor has it that Jay Leno eats lunch at this filled-to-the-brim, old-school market. Stop by on Saturdays for their legendary BBQ, and be sure to Instagram the iconic sign while you’re at it.
Los Angeles (Downtown): Urban Radish
When I first approached this urban specialty market, I’d assumed I was lost. Instead, I got lost in a beautiful and spacious market curated with items I’d never seen before. Visit on Wednesdays for wine and live jazz.
San Francisco: Rainbow Grocery
Organic and non-GMO products are paramount here, and it’s the type of place that sells wheatgrass by the tray. Worker-owned since 1975, this is the place to go to find San Franciscans in their natural habitat.
Chicago: Standard Market
Don’t like the visual noise that comes with cardboard Frito Lay displays? Wish you could just see the food, sans marketing? Standard Market, with its IKEA-like floorplan (you have to walk the entire store to get to the checkout) is a designer’s dream, with clean doors and a simple aesthetic. The house-made, like, everything doesn’t hurt either.
St. Louis: Straub’s
I have a thing for grocery history, and with an initial grand opening in 1901, Straub’s has plenty of it. While their Central West End store is undergoing a renovation, I’m super nerdy for their Clayton location. The three-story market has an entire floor for receiving (with bays reminiscent of their delivery days), and offices above.
Charleston, South Carolina: Caviar & Bananas
Charleston is for food lovers, and Caviar & Bananas is no exception. The George Street location has breakfast worth getting up early for. Hit up the espresso bar, and pick up something sweet and artisanal to tuck into your suitcase for your trip home.
What other very special or unique grocery stores are must-visits when traveling?