Restaurant supply stores are the places you go when you want both good quality and good value. It used to be that you had to go to a physical place like the Bowery to find stores like this, but more and more of them are broadening their scope and offering their wares online. The list below is just a beginning; add your recommendations for great restaurant supply stores in the comments.
- Bowery Kitchen Supplies (New York/Online): As you might imagine, they carry everything, from small cookware to large cooking equipment, and there is more or less full in-store retail service and a good online store as well. They also have a sister store, the Bowery Kitchen East, specializing in knives and chef's attire. A great place to find virtually anything you could possibly want for your kitchen, and at reasonable prices as well.
- Bridge Kitchenware (New York/Online): "The Dean and Deluca of kitchenware," Bridge is for people "who want the genuine article in their kitchen and don't mind spending the money to get it." "They have everything," especially fine copper pots and pans.
- Northwestern Cutlery (Chicago/Online): The West Loop's Northwestern Cutlery has a wide selection of brands including All Clad, Le Creuset and Wusthof, and they've earned stellar reviews on Yelp.
- Kamei Restaurant Supply (San Francisco): With its unparalleled selection, this is one of the best kitchen supply stores in the city. It's really two stores in one. There are rows of commercial goods like hotel pans, industrial stockpots and plain white, deep soup bowls. Then there's the stuff for your house at prices that rival any other store in the city.
- Surfas Commercial Kitchen Supply (Culver City/Online): Think commercial restaurant supply meets chef's boutique. While keeping prices reasonably low, Surfas manages to escape that grungy restaurant supply vibe, while offering not only a full range of commercial items, but also gourmet food items like Callebaut chocolate, specialty oils, and microbrews.
- Advance Tabco (Online): A totally comprehensive source for commercial grade, restaurant supply stainless kitchenware. Advance makes it extremely easy for you to shop with an excellent website and clear pricing so that you can see what you are getting. The catch is that prices are not low. This is not Ikea. This is NSF approved, heavy duty, top quality commercial grade.
- Bargain Fair Restaurant and Catering Supplies (Los Angeles): Bargain Fair is one of those cranky old "you broke it you bought it" kind of places, at yet is has kind of an odd charm, thanks mostly to their selection. If you are looking for kitchenware, come here. They have every type of plate, bowl, mug or cup you could possibly want, as long as you want white. Actually they do have a few other colors, but mostly it's white - all the better to show off your latest culinary masterpiece.
Photo: Surfas Kitchen Supply