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Soon to be Denver area resident looking for recommendations for ethnic grocery stores

After 15 years in Michigan we are moving to our new home in the Central City/Blackhawk area next week. Although I've spent a lot time in Denver and surrounding areas I'm not familiar with all the shopping areas. Any good ethnic grocery stores on the western side of town? I'm thinking that being in Gilpin County that anything in Golden, Wheatridge, Lakewood will be handy, but I'm willing to go anywhere for great finds. Mexican, Indian, Asian (Japanese, Thai, Chinese), Middle Eastern...all suggestions are most welcome!

I already know that I'll be heading to Arvada for Penzey's spices. I'm just glad I don't have to go back to mail order...having a Penzey's in Grand Rapids has spoiled me!

Even with all the snow right now, I'm really looking forward to being back in the Rockies!

Thanks for your help!

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  1. I like Pacific Mercantile in downtown Denver (Sakura Square) for Japanese (and various other Asian specialties). Good selection, and very helpful staff (which is helpful when you need to decipher some crazy product label).

    KoMart (which I think is a chain) is located on Havana Road in Aurora. It is a giant Asian grocery with everything you could imagine (and the best produce in town). No customer service to speak of (since most of the staff aren't too good with English).

    There is a chain (3 of them that I know of) in Denver of Mexican groceries. The one I know of is on East Colfax (west of Abilene a few miles). Giant mega mart with fresh tortillas, and all sorts of fresh chiles. Don't go there much, so can't speak to their customer service.

    On Parker Road (North of Iliff) are a few Middle Eastern, and a few European grocers. These are small stores, and I personally haven't been to any of them, so I can't speak to their quality.

    1. Thanks for the information! I think I have driven by the grocery on East Colfax. And I will check out KoMart for Asian. Most of the Asian markets around here don't have staff that speak English either, so I'm used to walking around and just picking things out. It's good to know about the produce.

      Thanks for your help!

      1. There's a giant Asian market on W. Alameda in the 2200 block, in the same shopping center where Super Star Asian (Denver's best dim sum restaurant) is located. And I've heard good things about a big Asian seafood market in Broomfield (or Westminster?), on 104th, a couple of miles east of 36. Also, my husband just told me he'd heard of a great place to get spices near the REI flagship store in LoDo. Anyone know what that might be?

        2 Replies
        1. re: vanillagrrl

          Thanks vanillagrrl! And thanks for the tip aobut the dim sum restaurant too. I'll definitely be checking out both! I am also interested in the spice place in LoDo. REI is my husband's favorite store so I know we'll be down there often.

          1. re: vanillagrrl

            The spice place near the REI Flagship is the Savory Spice Shop on Platte Street, I think between 15th and what would be 16th if it extended that far. They also have a store in Littleton. Another Denver spice specialty shop is the Colorado Mountain Spice Company in the Golden Triangle Museum District -- I believe on 11th, around Cherokee or Bannock. As I believe someone mentioned, Penzey's is opening/has opened a retail store in Olde Town Arvada.

          2. Savory Spice Shop is way better than Penzey's...it is an adorable little shop (original location downtown) locally owned by a husband and wife team... and their spices are freshfreshfresh. Tons of innovative custom blends also....many more choices than mainstream Penzey's, esp. when it comes to more exotic and esoteric spices. Grains of Paradise, anyone? House made za' tar, ras el hanout, you name it, they've got it or can get it for you. Check out their website at www.savoryspiceshop.com. BTW, the mexican grocery chain mentioned above is called Avanza.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chicachef

              The only reason that I mentioned Penzey's is that Squint, the original poster, wrote that "having a Penzey's in Grand Rapids has spoiled me!" I always favor independent, locally owned businesses over national chains or large enterprises, but Squint is a Penzey's fan -- and Olde Town Arvada businesses are also worth patronizing.

              1. re: ClaireWalter

                Chicachef, thanks for the info on the Savory Spice Shop, I checked out their website and I will definitely by visiting. You have to understand, that here in West Michigan...where many people consider Red Lobster to be "fine dining"...that options are limited and when Penzey's opened it was the only spice shop in the metro area. It was either Penzey's or the spices at World Market. And I do find that Penzey spices are very good. It will be nice to have other options, which is one reason that I was asking for information on available markets.

                And Claire, thank you for your information as well. You mentioned Olde Town Arvada businesses. What other businesses are there? I love to cook, and I also love to shop!

            2. I love this thread, it gives a bunch of ideas in locales and cooking styles I like. My $0.02...
              The market in Westminster is Pacific Ocean Market, off 120th(287 there) and main. Nice market, especially for fresh fish and produce. Same general area: India's market on 287/Wads and Midway, they have three or four shops around Denver/Boulder metro. Great (gasp!) indian specialty store. The one in Boulder has order-ahead fresh samosas near lunchtime, haven't tried that in Broomfield.
              There's a concentration of european/russian stores north of I-70 in the Kipling/Wadsworth area. Black Forest Deli is on Kipling and 58th(or Ralston, streets get weird around there), they specialize in German sausages but have a wide selection of meats and preserves. Around the corner just north are a couple more Eastern European places just E of Tea Garden on Ralston/Kipling/64th. If you can't read polish or Russian they may be a waste of time as it's canned goods w/o english labels mostly. In the Old Town Arvada neighborhood there is Rhinelanders bakery, Primo Vino, Penzey's, and La Dolce Vita, to name a few. Rhinelanders(I think that's the name) and Primo Vino are a couple of standouts.
              Restaurants in the area I love are Ali Baba, TV Cuisine, and Luke's.
              Avanza near Sheridan on 44th is full of mexican/central american and general groceries. Service is not great but the stuff isn't so packaged as a Safeway or KS(local big chain grocers). Example would be the chickens. Avanza has them unwrapped in the butchers display case under headings of 'fryer', roaster, etc. S-way and KS have them previously frozen in plastic.
              Wally's meats has a store at 32nd and Youngfield, they are a great butcher shop if you want that really special($$$$ but worth it sometimes) cut of meat. I shop at the one in Westminster on 112th and Sheridan. The free range half wild turkeys for thanksgiving are definitely worth the $$.

              Tell us what you think about the stores you visit, I've got a spice shop to head to now off this thread! I'm looking for the spice mix used to create Belizean stewed chicken.

              TNC

              1 Reply
              1. re: TNC

                Hi TNC, thanks for your response. Other area boards have had similar threads and I am always amazed at all the different information out there. All of this is very valuable , both for finding the stores and also finding our way around our new home. And I've always found that you can pick up some really interesting stuff for very little cost (most of the time). I'm glad to see the Indian and European stores suggestions, those are always fun!

                We're halfway to our new home...sitting in a hotel room in freezing cold Iowa right niow! Thanks again for your help...I'll be sharing my thoughts on the various stores as I work thru the list!