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Balducci's and Dean & Deluca vs Whole Foods/Trader Joe's

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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!

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  1. 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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. Some of the deli meats are definitely worth it at Balducci's. My favorite is the porchetta, which is not always available. The roast beef can't be beaten. Very good bagels.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            Whoah, the bagels must depend on location at Balduccis. I've only eaten the bagels sold at the B on Old Georgetown Rd. (north of beltway, south of spur) and everytime I've had them, every flavor, I've thought they were truly awful.

            1. re: Smokey

              The ones in Mclean are definitely not awful. How's that for a recommendation!

              1. re: Steve

                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.

          2. 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.

            1. I'm a TJ fan from my CA roots and many items from TJ are cheaper than what one would find in the big chain supermarkets. There are certain things I pick up from TJ such as cereal, vitamins, yogurt, bread etc. The quality and cost combo beats out what I can find at my local Safeway. I usually buy my meat and produce on sale at Safeway. TJ meat is a little too expensive for me unfortunately.

              1. In general, I think WF has a broader selection for most items They have more varieties of produce, deli cuts and sweets. I also like the butcher and fishmonger at the WF in Clarendon for balance of selection and quality. I am not a fan of the butcher or fishmonger at the Falls Church WF.

                For certain items,though, I like B, such as the monster aspargus, heirloom tomatoes and giant artichokes. The butcher I speak to in the McLean B is French, and you can get some nice cuts once in a while. Excellent Onglet (Hangar steak). The B in Bethesda has great dry aged, prime steaks. Very pricey, though.

                1. I go to all of the above, but for different reasons. Well, D&D not so much, mostly because it's not convenient and has nothing I need that I can't get elsewhere. Whole Foods is where I do most of my shopping, though I've been going to Balducci's more lately because it's now two minutes from my office and on my way home. Yes, the prices are higher, but they have some items that WF doesn't and some items are just better. And I like the bagels at the Bethesda location, lol. I go to to TJ's for a few items, but nothing on my regular list.

                  1. Baldacci's sells Voss water. (So, now, does Wegman's. For the last several weeks, Whole Foods has not even been selling its house brand 365 water.)

                    1. I lived in New York for a few years and now live in Boston, we have many Whole Foods markets which are fine as far as they go. I still miss Balducci's and Dean & DeLucca, and Zabars consider yourselves lucky to have the option. I'm still waiting .... patiently .. here in Boston for a true gourmet grocery store. I think I will be waiting a lot longer.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ptrefler

                        So how does it compare??? You say you miss it. BTW, the balducci's & D&D stores here are MUCH smaller than in NYC, but they are still decent.