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Boston Grocery Stores

r
rajbbhatt Aug 28, 2006 03:46 AM

I just moved fro Calgary Canada and previous to that I was in LA. Boston has some very high rates for produce!! My god. I thought Canada would be expensive, but it is consistently half the price of the cost on all groceries here (prior to exchange rates). In LA, I found great stuff at AMAZING prices at Superior Warehouse which was a large grocery store slightly tiled towards the Hispanic market.

I am looking for groceries stores that dont have the prices of Whole Foods, Shaws and Stop & Shop. Costco is the best thing I know of. Anything else? Anything without the need to buy wholesale?

Thx

  1. Maxinella Sep 3, 2006 04:44 PM

    As an aside, there used to be a good Indian spice market just outside Union Square in Somerville. Has anyone been there recently? Also, there was a decent vegetable market on Broadway just east of Winter Hill, Somerville. Is it still there?

    1. r
      rajbbhatt Sep 2, 2006 01:42 PM

      WOW! thanks for all the great responses. I did check out Maket Basket right after posting last week and i thought the prices were pretty good, and I was a little relieved. I will check out Russo's as well. I was going to get a car and decided not too as I am studying at Harvard Business School and dont really need it. So anything close to where I am, Cambridge/Allston, is what i was looking for . Russo's in Watrtown isnt too far (6 miles).

      Thanks for all your help.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rajbbhatt
        BarmyFotheringayPhipps Sep 2, 2006 06:58 PM

        Glad to be of service. Quick aside, though: particularly if you're going to be making regular runs out to Russo's, I very strongly suggest you look into Zipcar. They have cars available at the HBS, and I think at least half of our Zipcar trips involve a run out to Russo's, since it's so much quicker and easier than taking the 70 bus out Main Street and walking over.

      2. p
        photogeek Aug 31, 2006 04:56 PM

        Hm. I've bought cheese from the guy at Haymarket and been very, very disturbed... brie that nearly had fur and legs.

        I generally go for fruit and veg - and I bring a backpack.

        Never spend more than $10 and I've been known to come back with 10-20lb of stuff...

        I will note that anything you get at Haymarket should be triaged immediately upon returning home - i.e. if you've got 4lb of strawberries, empty 'em out and look for fur.

        1. c
          chowho Aug 31, 2006 01:47 AM

          Sorry, but the grocery store situation in the Boston area is bleak - both in quality and price. It's one of the things that has highly disappointed me about Boston. There are better/cleaner grocery stores in my home state of Minnesota!

          You are likely to have to put up with the cost to get quality. Best bets: farmers markets, Wilson's.

          Haymarket may be cheap but that's because the fruits/veggie are near the end of their lifespan. It may be hit or miss in terms of how long the veggies/fruits will last.

          1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Aug 29, 2006 10:12 PM

            Well, this is good news: as of yesterday, the Shaw's on Comm Ave in Allston (only a few blocks from my house!) is once again open 24 hours!

            One thing that really surprised me when I moved to Boston is how few stores are open around the clock. There areen't many times when you need a supermarket at 2 in the morning, but when you do, they're a lifesaver.

            2 Replies
            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
              maillard Aug 31, 2006 05:11 PM

              I heard that the Shaws at Porter Square is also 24 hours now.

              1. re: maillard
                BarmyFotheringayPhipps Aug 31, 2006 06:42 PM

                The Stop and Shop in Watertown (Pleasant Street, conveniently down the block from Russo's) is also 24-hour. So that's three. Any others?

            2. j
              jdoherty Aug 28, 2006 08:27 PM

              Rajbbhat, where are you from? There are some great places to shop in Roslindale for produce but probably not worth the trip if you live on the other side of the city.

              Regards.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jdoherty
                s
                ScoobieSnack Aug 31, 2006 06:57 PM

                Where in Roslindale do you shop ? I have been looking for a great place since moving here in November.

                1. re: jdoherty
                  r
                  rajbbhatt Sep 2, 2006 01:40 PM

                  I am from Calgary Canada originally (Indian background), but lived in LA for five years prior to coming here!

                2. b
                  Beach Plum Aug 28, 2006 08:10 PM

                  Then there's always Haymarket on Fridays and Saturdays. That's a topic in itself, but you can't beat the prices. If you do a search on this board or even on Google, you'll find all kinds of information on shopping at Haymarket.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Beach Plum
                    k
                    kate used to be 50 Aug 28, 2006 08:28 PM

                    Haymarket is only good for immediate consumption. You can't pick out the foods you want, the vendor picks them from behind the stall and puts them in a brown paper bag. You get what they give you and if they don't know you, often you get "not so fresh". They also freeze and re-freeze the produce they don't sell.

                    Now you can't beat the prices, but the quality is YUCK.

                    And personally, I think Johnnies is over priced.

                    1. re: kate used to be 50
                      n
                      Nechushtan Aug 29, 2006 01:41 PM

                      I have to object to the quality. Sure its hit or miss, but a lot of times I find it as good or better than my two local grocers, and for 1/4-1/8 the price. If its convenient to get to (I just take the T) you only need to keep it around for a week, but I've kept some in the fridge for longer.

                      But like I say, it is most definitely hit or miss, and I find the quality slightly better in the winter, but the selection not quite as good.

                      1. re: Nechushtan
                        Joanie Aug 29, 2006 03:13 PM

                        I don't shop much but I've had great luck my last two times at Haymarket. Those strawberries they're selling 2 for $1 are ripe and perfect. Sat in my fridge for 2 days with no problems. Basil lasted a while too. Red potatos were 4 lbs for $.99, just a couple funky spots. 2 baskets of mid sized tomatoes for $1. The cheese guy is so nice (as opposed to a lot of the other vendors there). Most of those things I was able to choose on my own tho.

                        1. re: Joanie
                          k
                          kate used to be 50 Aug 29, 2006 05:29 PM

                          Interesting. I haven't shopped at Haymarket in years because of the reasons I stated above. Maybe I should give it another shot. Walk by there every Friday on my way to work.

                          Not so sure about the fish vendors though. Have either of you tried their wares?

                          1. re: Joanie
                            n
                            Nechushtan Aug 29, 2006 08:23 PM

                            Kate, definitely give it a go, take mind of my post though, it is still hit or miss on some things, and definitely choose your veggies, or make sure they don't grab bad ones (usually they let you bag your own).

                            Some of my learnings:
                            - Beware the corn, remove husk before purchasing!
                            - Late Saturday you can haggle more, and they usually advertise lower prices. This is a great time to go for real deals, but the selection is much more limited. This method works best in the winter and poor weather days when less people go.
                            - For more sought after items (like rasberrys, cranberry's, other non-straw berrys), the earlier you get there the better chance you have of finding them.
                            - I find that the "middle" vendors usually have slightly better pricing. I always do a walk through to note prices and quality before purchasing (though the shop on the corner next to Faneuil seems to always have the best prices on non-straw berries when they have them).
                            - Bring your own canvas bag. I have a couple large canvas bags that I take with me, I stack my produce strongest on the bottom. It is much more convenient to carry than a lot of plastic bags.
                            - Spices at the middle eastern spice place are great quality and seem to be great price.
                            - As Joanie mentioned, the "Cheese Guy" is friendly and he seems to have great deals on the cheese (inside the deals aren't anything special), but PLEASE stand on the side of the table, I hate when people stop there, they always block the path =(

                            I've purchased fish twice. Was it a great cut of fish? no. Was it amazingly cheap like the produce? no. Was it bad? no, it was decent. I would definitely look for a real fish monger (a few were suggested on this board that I intend on looking into), and I know Costco of all places has great cuts of Salmon for cheap.

                            1. re: Joanie
                              Allstonian Aug 31, 2006 05:07 PM

                              I've had decent luck shopping Haymarket and it's true that you can get some amazing buys. They are better at letting you pick your own nowadays. One BIG caveat - be careful how you carry your money and how much you carry. The only time in my life that I've been pickpocketed was trapped in a Saturday afternoon crush at Haymarket. I felt my wallet slide out of my pocket, but I was literally pinned so tight in the crowd that I couldn't turn and I was so shocked I didn't think to yell.

                            2. re: Nechushtan
                              b
                              Bostonbob3 Sep 2, 2006 05:03 PM

                              Haymarket is an okay place to find deals on some VERY specific items (usually dry cellar-type things like potatos, etc.). There is no way I'd ever get my fish there though.

                              BTW, for one of the cheapest drinks in town, Pete's Pub is right in front of the market.

                        2. p
                          pasuga Aug 28, 2006 07:06 PM

                          Try Johnnie's Food Master in Charlestown. The produce is good and it's certainly less expensive than Whole Wallets.

                          1. b
                            Bostonbob3 Aug 28, 2006 06:28 PM

                            Regarding Boston grocery stores, Jackie Childs, the lawyer on Seinfeld, put it best:

                            "It's outrageous, egregious...preposterous."

                            1. z
                              zenas Aug 28, 2006 06:25 PM

                              Highly recommend Russo's in Watertown, they do close at 7 pm wkdays and I believe 6 pm wkends though. Worth the drive if you have a car. I personally go to Russo's for fruits/veggies, occasionally Super88 in Allston for asian groceries, and for almost everything else Trader Joes. StopNShop, Shaws on the rare occasion, but if i need Doritos, thats a different story....

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: zenas
                                LauraBear Aug 28, 2006 11:01 PM

                                Russo's is wonderful year round... the variety of fruits and veg is amazing (my husband refers to the far left end as the bok choy room) and cheap. There are some other good buys, but the bakery and cheese shop are good but not cheap. On the other hand, during our short growing season, you're much better off at a farmer's market or Wilson Farms or Idlywild out in Acton.

                              2. r
                                rifkab Aug 28, 2006 03:39 PM

                                Both Wilson Farms and Russo are excellent if you live close by. I just recently moved a little north and have been going to Rosebud Farms close to Wellington Circle. It's not fancy at all and they don't have the Russo selection. I get out spending a lot less because I am not as tempted to try all the fun stuff at Russo's.
                                I find a lot of other stuff I need at Trader Joe's but I am not crazy about the fruits and veggies there. I like to pick my own.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: rifkab
                                  b
                                  BeanTown Aug 28, 2006 03:46 PM

                                  Where exactly is Rosebud Farms located?

                                  1. re: BeanTown
                                    r
                                    Raconteur Aug 28, 2006 07:59 PM

                                    Rosebud Farms 333 Commercial St, Malden, MA

                                    I've been shopping here on and off for years. The produce is varied, sometimes really nice, sometimes sketchy. The italian goods are nice, and it's my local source for decent milk.

                                2. k
                                  kate used to be 50 Aug 28, 2006 03:30 PM

                                  I would strongly recommend Wilson's Farms in Lexington. Currently they are offering their own grown produce and during the winter months, they have very nice selections from around the globe. They also have their own eggs and diary products during the entire year.

                                  Wilson's does offer a meat selection, but I am a non-meat eater, so I can't speak as to quality or price. They also have started offering frozen fish/seafood selections, but living in NE, why get your fish frozen when you can get it fresh!

                                  Welcome to the ever escalating prices of the East!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: kate used to be 50
                                    b
                                    BJK Sep 2, 2006 08:18 PM

                                    Wilson's meats are excellent, but extremely expensive, as they all come from John Dewar's IIRC. Their poultry, however, is all their own, is very good, and reasonably priced.

                                    BK

                                  2. Maxinella Aug 28, 2006 03:07 PM

                                    There are other Market Baskets. The one in Somerville is pretty gross, but the suburban ones are fine. Are you in Boston proper? Do you have a car? That can make a big difference.

                                    1. u
                                      uman Aug 28, 2006 02:58 PM

                                      Well, when my CSA and farmer's markets run out, I am a Russo's shopper. I like their prices and selection. Of course it can get pretty crowded, but is worth it imo.
                                      Marketbasket in Somerville is cheap, but I need to self-medicate before going in that zoo.

                                      1. p
                                        Patricia Aug 28, 2006 01:46 PM

                                        McKinnon's in Davis Square has a very nice but small produce section.

                                        Lambert's on Morrissey Blvd. in Dorchester has a very nice and larger produce section.

                                        Prices seem to be OK at both places but I don't know how they compare to larger chains.

                                        1. c
                                          cheryl_h Aug 28, 2006 01:15 PM

                                          Another Russo's fan here. I also shop at Super 88 a fair amount. Another good grocery store is C-Mart, great selection, everything very fresh and good prices.

                                          1. DavisSquare Aug 28, 2006 01:08 PM

                                            I don't know about Calgary, but coming here from California was just depressing on the produce front, especially in the winter. In the end, you just end up sucking it up and paying the outrageous prices, or going to Market Basket where the quality is sometimes less than good.

                                            However, you can certainly do a few things to brighten your produce mood, although each involves trade offs. None of these will provide California-like produce nirvana, but each is a step in the right direction.

                                            o Trade time for quality and price by picking your own. Peaches and blueberries coming up soon and apples in the fall. http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/pick-your-own.htm

                                            o Trade choice and time for price and quality by joining a CSA. It's probably too late for this summer, but look into it again in February or March. http://gastromancer.com/web_posted_docs/Massachusetts_CSA_Directory.doc

                                            o Trade price for quality and selection by shopping at farmers' markets. http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/far...

                                            1. m
                                              mwk Aug 28, 2006 01:04 PM

                                              Market Basket is cheap, as is Hannaford stores. I have a Star market a few blocks from my house, but I avoid it because I got tired of the nasty produce there. Roche Brothers also has very good produce at a decent price.

                                              Of course, the key to buying it at a reasonable price is to shop the sales and buy what's in season.

                                              1. p
                                                Patricia Aug 28, 2006 12:51 PM

                                                I'll second Market Basket in Somerville; only drawback of that place is that it's often very crowded (and the parking lot is a mad house)so get there when they open.

                                                1. MaggieMuffin Aug 28, 2006 11:39 AM

                                                  I also moved down here from Canada a few years back and it took a while for the sticker shock the wear off. Whole foods is outrageous, and I find Shaw's/Star market to be disappointing.

                                                  I LOVE russo's in Watertown, their prices are about as reasonable as they can get and the selection is fantastic. Super 88 is also good, and some of the smaller chains (Marketbasket and the HiLo in JP).

                                                  Otherwise, suck it up. We all do. Before you know it, you will be paying $1/potato and $2/tomato like the rest of us!

                                                  1. beetlebug Aug 28, 2006 11:12 AM

                                                    Super 88 has inexpensive produce. They have locations in Boston, Dorchester, Allston, as well as a couple of suburbs.

                                                    http://www.super88market.com/

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: beetlebug
                                                      BarmyFotheringayPhipps Aug 28, 2006 06:32 PM

                                                      You get what you pay for at Super 88, though. Anything that doesn't have particularly fast turnover is likely to be in pretty sad shape at the one here in Allston.

                                                      Another Russo's recommendation here. I think the prices are more than reasonable, and the quality is uniformly high.

                                                      I agree that you should look into a CSA next year. We're members of the Stillmans CSA, and have raved about it for years.

                                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                        beetlebug Aug 28, 2006 06:52 PM

                                                        True, but if you look carefully, you can get some great deals, at a fraction of the cost at supermarkets and farms. I usually go for the chinese veggies and sometimes, it is a question of getting the veggies because they run out.

                                                        In the summer, I usually go to Sergei Farms (in Belmont), Verrill Farm (Concord), Arena Farm (Concord), Busa Farms CSA (Lexington/Arlington), and whatever farmer's market I pass by. But, the prices at these places are not the least expensive, but they do taste the best.

                                                    2. s
                                                      shaebones Aug 28, 2006 06:14 AM

                                                      The produce can be sub optimal in some stores but you absolutely cannot beat the prices at Marketbasket. There is one in Somerville. You should post on the Boston board.

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