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Feb 25, 2002 01:09 PM

Best grocery stores in Seattle?

  • h

My wife and I are moving to Seattle (maybe Magnolia, Queen Anne or West Seattle?) this spring and would like to know about the best grocery stores. We don't want to be forced into generic Safeways and Kroger branded stores like QFC (Kroger has ruined King Soopers here). We've got a Whole Foods here in Denver, which has great produce, meat/seafood, cheese and bakery, but we're not granola types, so we still have to shop the big chains for cereal, frozen foods and supplies - and wine at other stores. Are there any stores in Seattle we could get a large selection with quality food, cool/hard to find products and "staples" all in one store?
It's great to have this board to save us the hassle!

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  1. I think you'll be pleased with Larry's Markets and the Queen Anne Thriftway. I think there are about 3 Larry's; one is in lower Queen Anne. There's at least one Whole Foods. It's gigantic and is on 65th.

    1. If you end up in West Seattle Admiral Thriftway meets all the needs you mentioned.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Chris

        Chris, I just saw this Admiral/West Seattle Thriftway store mentioned in the latest edition of Seattle magazine from a bookstore here in Denver. Something about take-out foods I think. I took a cooking class recently and my wife and I would like to expand our home culinary horizons a bit. So hopefully we could get new food ideas from a store like that. Are they known for anything in particular?
        Thanks! Harald

        1. re: Harald V

          The Admiral Thriftway and Queen Anne Thriftway have in-store demonstrations, sometimes featuring some of the top local chefs. Among their annual featured presentations are the Copper River Salmon Festival in May, Peach-O-Rama in August and Beajoulais Nouveau in November.

        2. re: Chris

          Another fan of the West Seattle Admiral Thriftway. We consider shopping there part of our entertainment budget! The staff is very friendly and very helpful! There are two Thriftways in West Seattle - I only know about the Admiral Thriftway. Does anyone have comments about the other one?

          Just as a side remark - we live a few blocks from the Admiral Thriftway and really enjoy the neighborhood. Close to downtown but with its own community feeling (fun bookstores, a discount movie theater etc.). The only main drawback is that the traffic over the West Seattle Bridge can be a problem during commute times.


          1. re: ElizabethC

            Elizabeth --
            We go to both the Admiral Thriftway and the one further south on California Ave . . . is it Morgan St? The Admiral location has a great section for pastas, salads, etc made while you wait in addition to the deli items and has a more "full service" butcher counter & seafood. But the other locale has a wider selection overall, including more of what I think of as every day items along with the gourmet treats & good produce. And great service at both locations!

        3. You probably won't live near it but you should be aware of the gigantic, newly remodeled Uwijimaya Asian grocery store in the International District (just S. of Downtown). Excellent seafood department and all Asian staples and specialties.

          The other respondents nailed the choices in the neighborhoods you mentioned.


          1. The Central Market in North Seattle (on Westminster Way around 150th & Aurora) is absolutely great, and it would definitely fit your bill, EXCEPT it's not in any of the neighborhoods you mentioned. Thriftway also runs Central Market, and -- in general -- Thriftway has really well run stores (Queen Anne & Admiral Thriftways, Ballard Market, Greenwood Market, and Central Market are the ones with which I'm most familiar).

            Larry's Oaktree (105th & Aurora)is adequate -- much better than Safeways and QFCs (I never shop at either, unless it's absolutely unavoidable). The Larry's on lower Queen Anne seems to cater to a slightly "fussier" clientele than the Larry's up north. The Queen Anne location seems to carry a slightly better selection of certain items (pates, e.g). But the Larry's on lower Queen Anne is also way more crowded and slightly more expensive.

            When I want excellent meat or some different produce (quince, for example) I go to Whole Foods. For regular grocery shopping I generally go to Larry's Oaktree, because it's very near by. For a shopping treat I go to Central Market, which also has a large Asian section.

            Take it easy,

            6 Replies
            1. re: Jen

              As an outside sales rep I have visited every store listed on the other 4 replies (and then some)and I have to say that the Shoreline area Central Market that Jen mentioned is my hands down favorite. Even if it isn't exactly in one of the neighborhoods you listed, it is worth going those extra few miles -- definitely!!!

              It's like taking the best of Uwajimaya, Whole Foods, and Larry's and rolling it all into this one mack-daddy of a grocer. The live tanks and the amazing array of produce may be worth the trip all by themselves, but they also have wonderful meats, a vast bulk foods section, even slab bar soap similar to LUSH products -- you slice it yourself and it's priced by the pound...lovely.

              1. re: Jen

                Thanks Jen, for such a thorough reply. This gives us several places to explore, which can be fun in itself. We'll look at all of them and see. I was surprised at all the Thriftways you named. I've heard some are outstanding and others, a little dirty. The Central Market sounds interesting. I've also heard that Larry's is good, but that sometimes they don't have a complete selection? Either way, we look forward to finding out. Thanks again.

                1. re: Jen

                  Another vote here for Central Market! Yeah, you have to haul your butt up 99/Aurora to Shoreline, but it's Supermarket Heaven! Great Asian section, fantastic produce, great wine section, phenomenal bulk foods, olive bar - unbelievable.

                  I live very close to Whole Foods and the Roosevelt Trader Joe, and shop both places a lot, but still treat myself to a trip to Central Market every so often. It's dreamy.


                  1. re: Jen

                    I understand that the Ballard Market is owned by the same folks as Central Market. The Ballard Market is mere minutes from Queen Anne and Magnolia.

                    1. re: Chris

                      Yes, I do believe they are owned by the same people, but comparing Ballard Market to Shoreline's Central Market is like comparing (excuse the analogy please) apples & oranges...the Ballard Market has some fine qualities, but Central Market is, for starters, probably 3 or 4 times the square footage...

                      Ballard Market does have a great wine selection, as does it's BIG brother Central Market.

                      PFI, it should be noted, strikes me as more of a food warehouse than some people may be letting on, although it is considered by many I know to be a well-kept secret with some great finds at good prices.

                      Whole Foods? I loved it when it first opened, and I like to go once in awhile, but I think they try a little too hard to pass themselves off as organic-based(italics). Sure they have a good selection of organic produce, meats, etc., but so do the other markets we're talking about here -- I have friends who prefer to call it WHOLE PAYCHECK.

                    2. re: Jen

                      I did not see it mentioned by anyone else, but Central Market has a great beer selection. They pretty much have everything a seasoned drinker would want. The prices for beer are fair if not less than some of the other grocery stores in the area as well.

                    3. d
                      Don't Forget Me

                      Not exactly a typical grocery store, and you may already be familiar with them, but there is a Trader Joe's on Q.A. that I shop at when I'm in the neighborhood. From frozen ducks to cornichons, TJ's fills many of my more unusual food needs at good prices. If you happen to go down to the International District, as someone suggested below, an alternative to Uwajimaya might be Viet Wah. A vietnamese grocery store that has better prices and, in my estimation, many more asian products. (I was surprised when I went to Uwajimaya recently and discovered they seems to be catering to a more western clientele, imo) Also, drop by PFI. A sort of low-brow/high-quality, import, bulk, deli-type-place where you can get Bulgarian Kashkaval cheese, sheets of apricot paste, and whatever's in-between.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Don't Forget Me

                        Where is PFI, BTW? I've been hearing about it off and on for years, but haven't gotten around to going there yet.

                        1. re: Karl B
                          Don't Forget Me

                          They have a wholesale/warehouse a little farther south, but PFI's (Pacific Food Importers) retail outlet is called Big John's PFI. The address is 1001 6th Ave. South. I wouldn't call it a secret anymore, not since they moved to their "lush" new digs about 10 years ago. (If you think it's funky now, you shoulda seen the old store off Dearborn)

                          If you can find your way to 6th, look for a Big John sign on the west side of the street. You turn off 6th and drive downhill thru a parking lot about 100 yards to the store entrance. Good luck.