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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.


              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!

              2. For pricey, high-quality gourmet groceries, go the Marczyck's Fine Foods (Uptown, 18th and Clarkson) and Cook's Fresh Market(26th Steet Mall, downtown). Tony's (4 locations in the southern burbs) has good meats, grocery items, prepared foods, baked goods, produce. All are family-owned.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ClaireWalter

                  Thanks for the grocery info Claire, I'm putting these on the list to check out. We arrived at our new home in Central City yesterday (in a snowstorm) and are now in the process of unpacking. My new kitchen is twice the size of my old one...I'm looking forward to cooking a lot of fun things!

                2. There's a russian / eastern european shop just west of Wild Oats on Alameda. (Go to the Target just east of Cherry Creek and go east on Alameda). I think it may simply be named European Mart (left side of street). Past Holly and Monaco, there's another Russian grocery. Go to 909 S. Oneida and it's in the same strip mall. Ask them where there are more.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: blythe

                    Thanks for the recommendations blythe. I'm hoping to get out and shop this weekend now that we almost done with unpacking. I'm looking forward to exploring all these different stores!

                  2. Savory spice is awesome! you can get black onyx cocoa powder there!

                    1. Reviving this thread: Isn't there supposed to be a good Chinese market on Federal somewhere? I was trying to figure out where it was and what it was called yesterday, but, short of driving the entire length of Federal, couldn't figure it out.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Megiac

                        I believe there is a huge one off 6th and Federal in the same shopping center as Superstar Asian. It might be worth checking out.

                        1. re: MissaCM

                          I think that's the one! Thanks.

                          I wanted to cook Chinese last night, but was missing some key ingredients. I usually go to Pacific Mercantile for my asian food needs, but they are closed on Sundays.

                        2. re: Megiac


                          If you are looking for a nice Asian Market there is a terrific one on Parker Road and Yale (ish)( 2751 S Parker Rd, Aurora, CO 80014, (303) 745-4592 ) called HarMart. It is outstanding. Their selection is better than Pacific Mercantile (which I also love) but they are open on Sundays, they have a big surface lot so parking isn't an issue and their prices are pretty reasonable.

                        3. Okay, in the shopping center where Super Star Asian is (called Alameda Square on Alameda at Yuma- a tip- the roads around there are in alphabetical order as they cross Alameda), there are a couple of markets- one is the Viet Hoa, which is the really big one at the far end of the lot (used to be an REI, by the way). The other is Pacific Ocean, which is the same ownership as the one in Broomfield, and it's a couple of doors down from Super Star.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: cheesemonger

                            I shop at the Pacific Ocean Market regularly. They have wonderful fish. The salmon is always fresh and usually 10% cheaper than the cheapest cuts at Safeway. The red snapper is also just to die for! The Tilapia comes in live or frozen. The live is much more expensive, and I don't taste the difference.

                            The meat is good, but primarily pork. I just got a rack of wonderful spare ribs. 1st cookout of the season couldn't have been better! I also make bacon from their pork belly. They have hanging ducks, weird organ meat, and other delicacies that only someone born far away from here would find appetizing.

                            The fish market and the butcher always smells good (except for the section of offal, which is just disgusting, and not a indication of cleanliness).

                            The vegetable section is more sparse, specializing in Asian ingrediants. Always has fresh bok choy, and a wide selection of goods that I can't identify. The veggies that are familiar to people born in the states are more expensive and a lower quality than you'd find at Safeway.

                            They have a great selection of rice, including those huge burlap bags you can't find anywhere else. Cheap, high quality, free of bugs and rodents.

                            The asian products are widely varied and of good quality, but poorly arranged and tough to find.

                            Just one more note: I am particularly sensitive to bad smelling fish markets. I won't shop somewhere if it smells bad, even though people tell me I'm being silly. POM smells good. It actually makes me hungry to go into the fish section. I have never seen old meat or fish there, and I shop there a lot, and I'm super picky. I will not shop for fish at the "Asian Market" that's in the same parking lot.

                          2. See an article from yesterday's 'Boulder Daily Camera' at http://dailycamera.com/news/2007/mar/....

                            1. I have a lot of great sites that I can email you that will give you the top picks of Denver dining, area living, events....etc. Let me know if you want me to email you some links



                              1. Rancho Liborio 10400 E Colfax Ave Aurora CO. A great big Mexican market where you can find Tres Leche Cake for less than $5, banana leaves and unusual fruits like the flowers of cactus and plantains at reasonable prices. Don't go hungry the deli is teaming with hot and cold temptations like ceviche and chile rellenos. There is also a wonderful, albeit it small, family owned Italian Market in Park Hill-- Spinelli's in Denver at 4621 E 23rd Avenue. They have a good, reasonably priced cheese selection, weekly prepared meals and there own delicious bottled tomato sauce (4 flavors). The produce section has provided me with hard to find treasures like sekel pears and yesterday artichokes the size of cantalopes! Again, don't go hungry the meatball sub has won awards!