Best International Grocery Stores: From Coast to Coast

updated Jun 17, 2019
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Everyone has a favorite local specialty shop—the Italian butcher who sells the best prosciutto or the Mexican grocer with the amazing dried chili peppers. Making a list of the best in any city (let alone country!) is impossible, but we’re trying nonetheless. Add your local favorites in the comments.

  1. Buon Italia in Chelsea Market (New York City): The store offers several types of imported olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Refrigerated cases are full of fresh pastas and cheeses, and there are more little fish preserved in oil than we knew existed (our favorite: the bianchetti, which look like bean sprouts with eyes).
  2. International Grocery (New York City): The Karamouzis Brothers opened International Grocery amid scores of Greek stores over fifty years ago. Now the area, across from Port Authority, looks nothing like it did then. What you will find at International Grocery is a great selection of spices, flours and coffee, all of which you can buy in bulk, and other Mediterranean-inspired goods.
  3. Chicago French Market (Chicago): The new Chicago French Market – also called the MetraMarket for its proximity to Metra commuter trains – is being billed as Chicago’s first “year-round, European-inspired indoor market.”
  4. The Spanish Table (Seattle, Berkley, Mill Valley, Santa Fe, and Online): The store’s approachable cookbook ($19.99) teaches about the Spanish ingredients and suggests wine and music pairings. Thumb through the cookbook and then move though the store or website picking up what you’ll need to make your meal.
  5. World Spice Merchants (Seattle/Online): Sneezing customers prove the freshness of the spices and herbs for sale in Seattle’s World Spice Merchants. World Spice Merchants sells a wide variety of pure spices, spice blends, salts, chiles, and herbs by the ounce, with a one ounce minimum.
  6. La Palma Mexicatessen (San Francisco): As you walk toward the back of La Palma Mexicatessen you’ll start to hear the rhythmic patting of practiced hands working the soft masa dough that will soon become freshly cooked, toasty corn smelling pupusas. They also sell tortas, tacos, bunuelos, carnitas and birria, all prepared right there and great for a quick lunch.
  7. Nijiya Supermarket (San Francisco/Online): Nijiya Supermarket in San Francisco’s Japantown has everything you need to prepare Japanese food at home and more.
  8. Bay Cities Italian Market and Deli (Santa Monica): Since 1925, Bay Cities Italian Market and Deli has provided Santa Monica with an unparalleled selection of Italian goodies. Shelves are packed with dozens of varieties of olives, capers, tapenade, marinated artichokes, olive oils, and vinegars.
  9. India Sweets and Spices (Various Locations in Southern California): Hanging from hooks are bags of fenugreek, green and black cardamom, sumac, dried chilies, and a huge variety of seeds, from coriander, mustard, and fennel to quince and plantain. They also have an astonishing selection of peas, beans, lentils and rice.
  10. (Online): makes food and products available through the internet that previously could really only be found at local specialty shops. They offer a pretty complete range of kosher products, including travel meals and a kosher bakery.


Chicago French Market