Balducci's and Dean & Deluca vs Whole Foods/Trader Joe's
I just stopped in Balducci's today for a browse. They truly have unique items that even Whole Foods seem to lack. However, as far as prices go, a lot of their prices are truly out of this world.
Their focus is more epicurean than Whole Food's natural foods approach. I admit that a lot of Whole Foods offerings are poor. They are bland and still yet overpriced. Whole Foods bread is horrible.
Is Balducci's really worth the extra money? What items ARE worth the extra money? Anyone here do their regular grocery shopping there? What is your opinion on Balducci's (and i guess Dean and Deluca), although since Balducci's has 4 locations over D&D's 1 location.
Finally, how have they changed since they switched from being Sutton Place Market stores, except that the Reston store has closed. Thanks!
Balducci's - Based on how I "chow" for some things - yes such as
Great "ficelle" bread - better than their baguette, great rye bread "real thing"
Very good deli - Turkey Breast, Bourban glazed ham and "real" Roast Beef
great chocolate chip cookies in the bag
They carry Stonewall kitchen's pancake mix - best there is on the market I think
Haymarket potato chips - great too!
Balducci's is still going through some management structure changes based on various articles I have read over the past year. . Didn't live in the DC area when they were Sutton Place.
But for salad bar or soup - Whole Foods still wins hands down especially the Vienna store
You're not going to be saving any money by shopping in any of these places, except TJ's. I've only been back to Balducci's (Alexandria) once since they switched from SPG, but if they changed anything but the name, the changes were too subtle for me to detect. SPG/Balducci's was where I went if I wanted good pre-prepared foods. I'd also stop there for unusual produce. Their meat, bread and cheese counters were also superior to almost everyplace else I'd been to. But I haven't been there in awhile. Everything I need these days, I either get at Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, or an occasional stop at Trader Joes. As for Dean & Deluca, the only location I know of is in Georgetown, and I rarely get over there. I've stopped in to check the place out, but I'm usually shocked back onto the streets when I notice the prices.
Can't think of a single thing Balducci does better than Whole Foods. When they were Sutton Place they actually had a decent selection of imported and craft beers. Now, the selection is practically indistiguishable from any grocery store. And some of the prices are just ridiculous. I guess they're geared towards people who think that if something costs more it must therefore be better.
Certain things Whole Foods doesn't carry because they're not organic. For those, I order online or hike out to Super H or Wegmans.
I agree with you that the bagels at the McLean Balducci's are excellent quality. In fact, I like most things at Balducci's. Their prepared food can be very tasty--often better than Whole Food's. And I think the prices are lower than when it was Sutton Place. I get some nice discount coupons in the mail too.
Balducci's sells Capogiro Gelato http://capogirogelato.com/
It's not cheap by any means...but for a special occasion this gelato is awesome! They use only fresh ingredients...mostly from local farms (near Philly because that is where they are located). They have a lot of unique flavors that you won't find from most ice cream/gelato makers.
Balducci's also sells Emmi Yogurt...the pink grapefruit yogurt is divine! And LesserEvil popcorn snacks...yum!
I could never do all of my shopping there...or at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's...but I love going to these places for good/healthy quick meal options and snacks.