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Best Place in the Bay Area to buy Spices?

I'd like to try my hand at making bitters for cocktails and would like to find a great place to buy spices (instead of the local megamart). Is there a local spice shop in San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma or Napa counties that anyone can recommend? I'd really rather go to a shop to get the "full" experience rather than order over the net. Your help is greatly appreciated.

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  1. SF Herb Co or Rainbow Grocery come to mind (both googlable). SF Herb is probably the cheapest source I know; the quality is okay (most certainly usable, but not stellar), and items are sold by the 1/4th lb or lb. Their inventory is online. Rainbow sells a lot of organic spices in bulk (you package) for more.

    1. I have to say that SF Herb Co. is an excellent source of very good quality spices of all kinds. In some cases the smallest package may be more than you bargain for, but I have always managed by sharing around with friends. Bay leaves, pepper, granulated garlic, chili powders, etc. etc. etc. Never been disappointed in the quality. Certainly Rainbow has some interesting stuff too, but the prices at SF Herb cannot be beat. It used to be possible to get a good variety of bulk spices at Bombay Bazaar on Valencia, but they have since reduced their bins to a much smaller selection of pre-packaged spices. Many good things can still be gotten at Haig's on Clement around 8th, and across the street New May Wah has good prices on many standard and exotic Asian and as well as common spices.

      1. There is a great small place in Berkeley but I cannot remember the name (lot's of help, eh?), but the Internet is the way to go these days, IMO. I prefer spicebarn.com.

        1. Lhasa Karnak in Berkeley.

          http://www.herb-inc.com

          For Indian spices, Milan International, 900 University in Berkeley. Better selection than any of the other Indian stores in SF or Berkeley.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I second Milan. I could never understand why anyone would spend so much on spices at a regular grocery store...

          2. Since you mentioned Napa, I think Dean & DeLuca has a great selection of spices, albiet pricey. I love exploring their store in St. Helena.

            3 Replies
            1. re: singleguychef

              Funny you should mention Penzeys. I just ordered some salts from them today. A great find.

              1. re: Taree9595

                Actually since gourmetwannabee mentioned Penzey's 2 years ago they have a store in the Bay Area so if more convenient no need to order online.
                Menlo Park, CA
                771 Santa Cruz Ave
                (650) 853-1785
                Mon.-Sat.: 10:00AM - 6:00PM
                Sun.: 9:00AM - 3:00PM
                http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                1. re: wolfe

                  That store is great and it saves the shipping cost, but the selection's not as wide as online. The first time I went there they were out of cumin.