Call me crazy, but I LOVE to shop for groceries – and the more unique or obscure the market, the better! I was inspired to seek out some of the ethnic markets in town after watching a few episodes of “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel. While I didn’t find grubs or termites, I did manage to pick up some very unique things.
My first stop: The Super L Ranch Market in Phoenix. This grocery store specializes in items imported from Asia. They also have some of the freshest seafood available in Arizona and will cook your purchase right there on the spot! Having just been to Chinatown in San Francisco, I was practically giddy to find steam roasted buns in the freezer section and I snagged a bag to make at home. Among my other purchases? Unique balls of tea that actually bloom when steeped in hot water, a box of individually packaged almond cookies, a beautiful sake set and a bag of rice noodles, aka “rice sticks.” I think I’m going to have to throw an impromptu Asian themed dinner party!
My second stop: Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli in Phoenix. If you’re like me, and shudder at the thought of shelling out $7-$10 at the local grocery store for an ounce of dried Thyme, you’ll be delighted with the prices at a Middle Eastern grocery. This smaller market, situated next to a darling antique shop, is my new go-to for exotic spices and freshly baked pita bread. They also have a variety of olives, cheeses, Middle Eastern pastries and an amazing deli where you can order Shawarma and Falafel sandwiches. I picked up some of my favorites – Labneh (a creamy strained yogurt) and Za’atar (a herb mixture with toasted sesame seeds).
My third stop: DeFalco’s Italian Deli & Grocery in Scottsdale. I stumbled upon this place on a hunt for Mafalda (don’t ask!) and I’ve been a regular patron ever since. Not only do they make the most amazing, mouth-watering sandwiches, but they have a huge selection of Italian wines, oils and freshly made pasta. I also picked up a bottle of Italian rose water and have been using it to scent linens, flavor cocktails and sweeten desserts.
Ready to explore? Most major metropolitan areas have dozens of interesting groceries and markets. If you’re not sure which one to try, check out your local Chowhound board for suggestions. A foodie will never lead you astray!
The Super L Ranch Market. 668 N. 44th Street. Phoenix, AZ. 602.255.2288
Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli. 3052 N. 16th Street. Phoenix, AZ. 602.277.4927
DeFalco’s Italian Deli & Grocery. 334 N. Scottsdale Road, 133A. Scottsdale, AZ. 480.990.0636