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Favorite Prepared Foods at local Supermarkets

Sasha Jun 23, 2006 05:32 PM

Hi all,
I wish I had time to cook a meal every day, but life strikes. Sometimes the best I can manage is to stop by Ralphs or Gelsons on the way home and pick something out of their hot case. I've had more misses than hits. In fact, am currently noshing Gelson's turkey meatballs w/spicy bbq glaze. The glaze isn't bad - a tad too sweet, but the balls are dried out and lack much moisture.

I'd love to hear your favorite go to foods in the hot case or prepared food case at any of the local markets for the next time there's no time to cook dinner (Monday?)...

  1. j
    Jwsel Jul 2, 2006 10:38 PM

    I tend to get prepared foods at Gelsons, particularly the Gazpacho (during summer) and Mexican Diablo salad. I also like the curried chicken salad, which I prefer to Whole Foods version. The beef stew is quite good, when they have it, but it is insanely expensive because of the weight.

    Costco rotisserie chicken (but Zankou is on my way to Costco), so it's a bit of a toss-up.

    Ranch 99: Salt and pepper shrimp and har gow.

    Whole Foods: The new pupusas and mini carnitas empanadas that they just added at the Sherman Oaks WF are quite tasty. I also like the grilled vegetables, hummos and deviled eggs. The "Indian candy" (smoked and sweetened salmon) sometimes available at the fish counter is a guilty pleasure.

    1. Tom P Jul 2, 2006 03:36 PM

      Gelson's Mexican Caesar Salad, Tuna w/herbs and Tarragon Egg Salad

      Costco Rotisserie Chicken (they also have new burritos made from the Rot. Chicken that are quite good)

      Whole Foods Smoked Mozzarella Pasta (hard to find, recently)

      Starbucks has a couple of excellent sandwiches, including a Chicken and Bacon Sandwich and an Egg Salad sandwich (which has terrific grain bread)

      1. d
        didi Jul 2, 2006 12:08 AM

        Whole Foods carnitas burrito -- with everything except rice. My staple. Not every Whole Foods has a taco bar, but thankfully the one in Westwood by UCLA does! The salad bar is good also, but adds up. Before you know it you have an $8 salad!

        As someone mentioned, be careful of the supermarket sushi. My husband and I got a very bad case of food poisoning from Gelson's California Roll. We reported to the county inspector, and he told us the culprit is most often the rice, not the fish. If sushi is rolled before rice has cooled all the way and put into the case, it doesn't adequately cool...

        1. r
          Regina Jun 29, 2006 04:10 AM

          Desserts at Whole Foods, and almost anything at Trader Joes. I like Trader Joess fresh pizzas, salads, sandwiches.

          1. i
            ickster Jun 29, 2006 01:18 AM

            The pork riblets in tomatillo sauce with nopalitos at Gonzalez Markets

            The mixed ceviche at super A in highland park

            Cheese enchiladas at Tj's

            The chinese sausage at Ranch 99

            Maybe not quite (super)..but markets nonetheless:

            Char Siu at that little market in chinatown off of broadway

            and guilty pleasure...Menudo in a can..from anywhere

            Fried pompano at the filipino place caddy corner from the metro station by LACC

            Tortas at the little mexican store/carniceria on MLK and Main, across the street from the school

            1. Amuse Bouches Jun 29, 2006 12:47 AM

              I also like Bristol Farms's spicy tuna rolls. Far more than their other sushi.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Amuse Bouches
                wendi Jun 29, 2006 01:45 AM

                Ditto. I generally can't eat "supermarket sushi", but the soy-wrapped spicy tuna rolls at BF are super yummy. I almost always get them if I'm buying fish for dinner to have as an appetizer. Yum!

              2. d
                deadorinjail Jun 28, 2006 11:37 PM

                The red pepper hummus at Gelsons and a small baguette is all you need for a great quick meal. Also, somewhat surprisingly, the Wolfgang Puck chicken ceasar you can also get there is mighty fine. But yeah, i used to do Gelson counter for lunch every day, and it just seems off the last year or two. And don't even get me started on their yucky salad bar...

                1. davinagr Jun 28, 2006 11:04 PM

                  Here are my faves:

                  Rotisserie Chicken @Jons
                  Pesto Agnotti (sp?) Salad at Ralphs
                  Garlic & Cheese Pasta Salad at Green Acres Market in Simi Valley
                  Tri-Tip - Green Acres Market in Simi Valley
                  Caldo de Pollo@Vallarta
                  Albondigas Soup@Vallarta
                  Chile Relleno@Vallarta
                  Agua de Frescas Drinks@Vallarta
                  Deviled Egg Potato Salad@Pavillions
                  Prime Rib Sandwich@Pavillions

                  1. tokyoastrogirl Jun 26, 2006 11:35 PM

                    Love the roasted chicken at VONs. That + pita + Trader Joe's Eggplant Hummus + tomatoes = fave dinner.

                    Trader Joes Lite Chinese Chicken Salad, Asian Noodle Salad

                    1. p
                      PayOrPlay Jun 26, 2006 10:50 PM

                      Yeah, it's too bad about the Gelson's turkey meatballs; they used to be sure-fire but recently they changed the recipe, or the cooking method, or something, because now they're tough and not too tasty.

                      Although Gelson's (Century City) is our favorite grocery overall, I generally find their deli counter a disappointment, mostly--a bit stodgy. Some things I do like there:

                      the "lobster sensation" salad (about $13/lb but almost worth it, even though it's not all lobster--served on on a fresh split sourdough roll, it makes a decent Californicated version of a lobster roll);

                      macaroni & beef (I used to swear by the mac & cheese but they recently screwed that up too);

                      Italian wedding soup (a bit salty but in a good way);

                      turkey chili (more than a bit salty, but with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream it's quite good);

                      Hungarian goulash;

                      Their chicken tenders are not bad either, although you can do about as well with frozen so what's the point.

                      Whole Foods: Usually more interesting choices than Gelsons. Some are utter disasters (and that open serve-yourself ceviche bar terrifies me) but some of the things that we like include:

                      the tuna cranberry salad (as Dommy already mentioned);

                      grilled artichoke (if not too mushy)

                      sundried tomato field roast (I'm not generally crazy about the made-for-vegans stuff but this one has a nice strong flavor and a satisfying crunch);

                      chicken curry salad (the WF version is very meaty and dense).

                      Bristol Farms: As been recently discussed, the salads are all very expensive, and I'm not particularly fond of any of them, except that I do like the Mississippi Medley (blackeyed peas, collard greens). What Bristol does best, however, is soup: they generally have 8 or more soups either hot or packaged. Our family favorites include chcken chili; borscht; and Russian beef/cabbage.

                      Nijiya: their sushi was recently discussed in another thread--some days the deli counter is not as interesting as others, but on a good day they may have interesting choices such as the "diamond plate" (salmon roe, tamago, cucumber and tuna over rice; BBQ eel; all sorts of seaweed-based salads; and (a recent addition) a small selection of decent Chinese dim sum.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: PayOrPlay
                        ChinoWayne Jun 26, 2006 10:54 PM

                        Damn, POP, you are making my stomach growl, and narry a Gelson's, Bristol Farms or Whole Foods out here in the wilderness.

                        1. re: PayOrPlay
                          Roneique Jul 2, 2006 03:25 AM

                          Make sure you check out the black cherry tart at Nijiya in Torrance (when available). It is absolutely perfect... not too sweet, not too tart.

                        2. mr mouther Jun 26, 2006 08:36 PM

                          the potato logs at the ralph's in pasadena are quite good (just add frank's red hot)

                          1. PaulF Jun 26, 2006 07:54 PM

                            I posted this right as the website changed over last week and it vanished ...

                            Top Value Market has a hot food counter called Parviz Cafe.

                            They have a good deal with a whole roast chicken, rice, beans, tortillas and fresh salsa. The chicken is crisp and juicy. The beans are a little soupy, but in a good way and real tasty. Good, fresh salsa.

                            You can also get a chicken burrito (they have all kinds). What I like about the chicken burrito is they chop up the chicken right from one of the whole chickens they have ready to serve. They don't have a "vat" of chicken that's been sitting there drying out. They are pretty big, too. Three usually feeds my family of four.

                            Good hot wings are available, too. Not super hot, about like Tabasco, but a good spice and tangy, too.

                            I've heard there are a few Top Values around (mine is in Culver City) and that they all have a Parviz Cafe, but I've only been to the one.

                            1. SIMIHOUND Jun 26, 2006 07:42 PM

                              Fried chicken at Albertsons and the prepared food at the 99 Ranch Market at Sepulveda and Victory in Van Nuys. I used to go by a few times a week when I worked in Sherman Oaks. Great place.

                              1. a
                                AquaW Jun 26, 2006 07:36 PM

                                The quiches (particularly Seafood quiche) and desserts at Wild Oats (in Pasadena) are practically must-haves for me.

                                Same with the small Italian-styled cookies @ Gelson's.

                                And of course, sushi/bento box deal whenever I'm at Mitsuwa (I used to love their chicken katsu curry too, but that has faltered as of late.)

                                1. c
                                  copacetic Jun 26, 2006 10:46 AM

                                  i second the whole foods rec. sadly not all whole foods are created equal. the rolling hills branch is way better than pasadena. what i like there: sonoma chicken salad, kale, lobster bisque soup, seaweed salad, lemon tofu, smoked mozarella salad.

                                  the korean market in the galleria on western & olympic has some great ready made panchan and sashimi.

                                  1. Normal Garciaparra Jun 26, 2006 08:10 AM

                                    Chicken strips & soups at Vons
                                    Chicken from Albertson's

                                    Someone mentioned Asian markets... California Market (open 24 hours) on Western in Koreatown has a whole section of packaged "deli" items like kimchee, etc. My favorite is the fried tofu in the chili sauce. Super cheap too.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Normal Garciaparra
                                      Dommy Jun 26, 2006 09:57 PM

                                      I forgot about the Korean Markets... they have the best to go snacks... I love it when the California Market in Diamond Bar has Baby Octopus Kim Chee... Yum! And they have the best Chap Chae! :)


                                    2. Kitchen Queen Jun 26, 2006 06:40 AM

                                      Not sure where you are located but, I find the Asian markets to be really swell when it comes to prepared stuff. I have a Korean market down the street where I buy their egg battered fish fillets, vegetable (korean style) sushi and at this market they have a Korean salad bar. I love the octopus salad, black beans (cooked in soy sauce and sugar)and Korean style spicy cucumber salad. YUM! Then, there's always Trader Joe's.......

                                      1. b
                                        Babette Jun 24, 2006 03:46 AM

                                        The curried chicken salad at Gelson's in Pasadena is pretty good.

                                        1. Xericx Jun 24, 2006 03:08 AM

                                          I like the chicken and tuna salads at whole foods.
                                          the soups at whole foods and bristol farms....

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Xericx
                                            Funwithfood Jul 2, 2006 02:57 PM

                                            The Matzoh Ball Soup at Bristol Farms is excellent.

                                          2. Das Ubergeek Jun 24, 2006 02:52 AM

                                            Vons (and Pavilions, they're both Safeway companies) soups.
                                            Grilled lamb kabob from Karabagh Meat Market.
                                            Tacos and horchata from the taqueria at any big Vallarta.

                                            1. ChinoWayne Jun 24, 2006 01:13 AM

                                              Ralphs fried chicken, follow the instructions in this post> http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ChinoWayne
                                                Amuse Bouches Jun 26, 2006 08:25 PM

                                                I'll second that. That was my contribution to family Easter.

                                              2. m
                                                MEalcentric Jun 23, 2006 06:56 PM

                                                Anything from Claros

                                                1. c
                                                  calabasas_trafalgar Jun 23, 2006 06:46 PM

                                                  Whole Foods chile cheese enchiladas and fried chicken(almost as good as Roscoe's)

                                                  1. i
                                                    ipse dixit Jun 23, 2006 06:13 PM

                                                    Pavillions' soups

                                                    Bristol Farms' potato salad

                                                    Ranch 99 Market steamed buns (red beans)

                                                    1. d
                                                      Dommy! Jun 23, 2006 05:46 PM

                                                      I don't do much Supermarket Take Out... but everytime we are in a Whole Foods, I MUST get the cranberry tuna. It's seriously crack.... in tuna form...

                                                      I also enjoy the Scallion Pies at 99 Ranch just for sheer greasy carby goodness...

                                                      One thing I didn't have, but wished I did was a Pupusa from Gigante on Slauson and Gage in South L.A. We went in there for a quick taco RIGHT before a wedding and the Pupusa girl was JUST setting up... We didn't have time to wait as she already had a line formed, but we saw her make just ONE pupusa and it was the biggest yummiest one I've ever seen... drat...


                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: Dommy!
                                                        geezopeez Jun 29, 2006 03:48 AM

                                                        Can you describe the cranberry tuna concoction? Is it tangy? Does it have lemon juice in it?

                                                        Thanks in advance!

                                                        1. re: geezopeez
                                                          Dommy Jun 29, 2006 04:18 PM

                                                          It's not tangy, but not overly sweet. It's lightly dressed, but I don't sense any lemon at all. It's mostly the combo of fishy tuny, sweet and mooshy cranberries and a bit of bite and crunch from the red onion. Ask for a sample next time you are in, they are really nice about it! :)


                                                          1. re: Dommy
                                                            PayOrPlay Jun 30, 2006 03:01 AM

                                                            As I write this I am reading the label of a now-empty container of Whole Foods Cranberry Tuna, having polished it off (with Ak-Mak crackers) for dinner.

                                                            The ingredients listed on the label are: tuna, mayonnaise, red onion, dried cranberries, lemon juice. As Dommy! says, you really don't notice the mayo or the lemon much at all.

                                                            1. re: PayOrPlay
                                                              geezopeez Jun 30, 2006 07:26 AM

                                                              Hooray! So the recipe I just posted list the ingredients you describe! I'll try to make it for lunch tomorrow.

                                                            2. re: Dommy
                                                              geezopeez Jun 30, 2006 07:25 AM

                                                              I was looking for the recipe and found this:


                                                              Does it sound accurate? If not, I'm going to ask the chefs at Whole Foods myself!

                                                              1. re: geezopeez
                                                                PayOrPlay Jun 30, 2006 10:21 PM

                                                                I also found that recipe from Boulder, but while it sounds good it doesn't sound quite like the one at the Whole Foods here in LA---for one thing it uses yellow onion while red onion is one of the dominant features of the local variety. And it sounds more lemony than the local one (although I suppose it's possible that the mayo negates some of the perceived lemon taste).

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