I just went to this excellent store yesterday, and feel that I should share this info. with you folks. It is called Haig's Delicacies and is located on Clement St. in San Francisco's Richmond District, between 7th and 8th Avenues. The store sells all kinds of imported packaged food from around the world, especially India, southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Northern Europe. If you are into condiments, spices, tea, pickles, candy, preserves, or that sort of thing, this is a great store to check out.
I was talking to the owner, who is the nicest guy, and he said the store has been there 40 years but business has slowed, as the neighborhood has changed and local residents tend not to patronize the shop anymore. So I thought it would be a nice thing to give him a bit of free promotion here. I don't know of any other stores with comparable selection, quality, and reasonable prices. He has only the best stuff, whether it is harissa, french feta, basmati rice, or roast chicken flavored potato chips from England. Plus they have a deli where you can get their excellent hummus, sandwiches, deli meats, cheese, and so on.
I really have no affiliation with this store. I juat figure if I didn't notice it for so long, many others may not know it exists, and would like it if they did!
I like Haigs too--I wandered in last month for the first time in years. I used to go more (like 20 years ago) when the stuff they had could not be easily found. Like before there was filo dough in supermarkets. That may account for some decline in business, and yes the neighborhood is now mostly Asian, and I love the May Wah market.
Haig's is great. Their hummous and babaganoush are my favorite anywhere. They have excellent olives and feta at very reasonable prices. And they have bureks.
The non-deli items are, as Ben suggests, a fascinating collection. They span a geographical range from the Balkans to Indonesia, with side trips to the Netherlands and the UK. It's a great place for impulse purchases that might well open up whole new cooking possibilities.
It also happens to be Ibriks R Us--if you want to make Turkish coffee at home, this is the place to get your supplies.
Haig's is right in the middle of some of the best food shopping in San Francisco. A great source for fresh spices. It is an institution that should be preserved -- which means "go shop there." This section of Clement (stretching from about 6th through 9th) offers the most concentrated selection of world food shopping in the Bay Area. When I needed banana leaves for an Indonesian steamed fish, I headed directly to New May Wah Market -- a pan-Asian market without driving to Ranch 99 in Daly City. Across the street (and in between the other produce stores) you'll find Tokyo-ya for Japanese groceries. There is a sweets store that sells Marco Polo gelato (no need to drive to the Sunset for that hit of durian or red bean gelato) and Hong Kong-style drinks. There is a first-rate fish/seafood store that will cut fish to your specifications. And dim sum places and bakeries...And best of all is Kamei, the Asian restaurant supply store -- you can't escape without adding to your collection of small plates or tea pots. Some of my best kitchen tools come from Kamei. So don't just go to Haig's -- make it an outing. And if all this food shopping has you hungry, there are good noodle shops nearby, too -- Try Lee's (really, Vietnamese pho, etc.) on 8th or King of Thai.