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May 10, 2007 10:59 AM

really good grocery stores

Hi all..

Am going to be in miami for a photo shoot, and need to find some good grocery stores..actually we will be in the Keys..
Where i usually shop is trader joes and costco for the big stuff..but know that there is no TJ's in miami/florida so am searching for some options...


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  1. Miami has Publix, which is a very good standard supermarket chain. WholeFoods is also in South Florida (there's one in Boca, anyway).

    27 Replies
    1. re: Bob W

      Publix is mediocre at best. There's a Costco if you take a detour off the Turnpike at 88th Street (on 137th Ave.). It's the southernmost costco that I know of. There's a Wild Oats on US1 on the way to the Keys as well. Once you're in the Keys choices become very limited so if you can do your shopping before you'll have a better selection.

      1. re: lax2mia


        "Really good?" Hmmm... Where in the Keys?

        Key West has small stores to graze> Fausto's for meat, try Pirates Seafood in the little trailer at Owens gas station on the boulevard. Good price on pinks and they are always excellent and huge. He usually has lobster and stone crab in season as well as grouper and snapper, both fresh. Dions Market for fried chicken... Waterfront market for produce (meat, seafood too).


        1. re: lax2mia

          Publix changes according to the neighborhood it serves. The one on Southern Blvd. and Parker in West Palm Beach and the Palm Beach Publix kick ass. Great wine, cheeses, bakery etc. The one on Alton Rd. in South Beach is awesome. The one one Key Largo is pretty good. The one in Homestead sucks. Incidently, Publix wins internationally-juried competions year after year for its bakeries, widely considered the best in the industry.

          1. re: flavrmeistr

            You're kidding. Tell me you're kidding. Some of my Diet Coke just came out of my nose when I read your remarks about Publix.

            I would list list the incompetencies of Publix on this board (e.g. baguettes that are soft including the crust, vegetables that are pre-packaged and shrink wrapped, etc.) but I'd probably have to start a new topic, if not an entire website. Next time you're in Northern California step into a Raley's or Bel Air supermarket. There you can get a freshly made tri-tip sandwich, as opposed to the freshly made Marshmallow Delight salad you can get at Publix.

            1. re: lax2mia

              You must be thinking about Winn-Dixie, which you are describing to a T. Thirty kinds of cheap bologna and marshmallow salads galore. All the baked goods have the same glazed-donut texture. Depressing. Any supermarket in Northern California has a more toothsome assortment of groceries than damn near anyplace else in the country. Why be so callous as to rub our face in it?

              1. re: flavrmeistr

                With that in mind, is Publix really as bad as lax2mia is making it out to be or has lax simply had a better-than-average supermarket experience? I've read the posts on this but hesitated to post, as I'm not really sure. I've always thought Publix was great for some things and convenient. The markets that had the stuff I didn't want to buy at Publix didn't have other stuff I needed, etc. I've also shopped in Cincinnati area (processed food, megastore heaven) and the N Chicago suburbs (prettier on the outside but less selection than Publix).

                1. re: amyvc

                  In response to both posts, no, I wasn't talking about Winn-Dixie, and no, I'm not rubbing it into anyone's face about the groceries in NorCal. The thing is, if they can do it in NorCal, why can't we do it here? I understand that California is produce heaven, but does Publix really think that shrinkwrapping asparagus makes it more appealing? If Wild Oats and Whole Foods can have nice looking produce sections, why can't Publix?

                  So no, in response to post #2, I don't think I've had better-than-average supermarket experiences. I've had experiences at supermarkets that go the extra step which means, if given the incentive to do so, our dear local Publix could also do.

                  And in a slight retraction, I don't know if any of you have visited a Publix Sabor, the Publix markets aimed toward Hispanic customers. The one in Hialeah is actually a better concept than a "normal" Publix. Aisles are wider, there's a butcher that cuts meat to order, there's a pre-prepared food counter with rotating dishes, the produce is presented in baskets (although some is shrinkwrapped). If you live near one you should visit it. Hopefully Publix will take ideas from this venture into its mainstream locations.

                  1. re: lax2mia

                    "If I live near one, I should visit it"!? That's what I've been trying to get through to you! The Publix in my neighborhood caters equally to wealthy Palm Beachers and a burgeoning Cuban community. A killer combination, in my opinion. You can get a whole roast pig, top-notch Cuban baked goods and desserts (flan, diplomatico, rice pudding), great variety of fruit and produce and all manner of other good stuff. Sorry that you haven't been to a good one, but they really do exist. By the way, in South Florida, "Hispanic" is mainstream.

                    1. re: lax2mia

                      I totally agree with lax2mia. A desert like Phoenix, AZ has grocery stores that are 100 times better than the ones found in FL. Fresh Market is the only decent grocery store. Much of the produce in FL grocery stores (including Publix) are already rotting and they are damn expensive. I guess west coast and southwest has way better groceries and wider variety of both fresh produce and bakery products

                      1. re: mkris

                        I have the exact opposite experience with Fresh Market produce. In my experience, it's been the stuff that's engineered to look pretty at the expense of taste and scent, and because they don't turn it over as quickly, it's rotting already as I'm leaving the store. (or molding in the advance of the sell-by date in the case of cheese) And you pay a significant premium for pretty and tasteless. The only produce I consider buying there is the organic bananas.

                        I have far better luck with a Publix in a nice part of town- not as pretty produce, but far better smell and taste, and they do enough volume that everything is normally as fresh as you get in a grocery store situation.

                        1. re: beachmouse

                          A thread about Publix and I missed it? Thanks to whoever revived this thread so I could add my two cents. I've lived all around the country and I have never lived in a town that really has only one grocery store chain. Publix is so bad that I call it the "Communist Republix of Miami". The veggies and meat are average to bad and the fish is completely unedible. Forget baked goods as they can't get bread, rolls or sweets correct. It is funny that people will defend this chain saying, "you haven't been to a good publix". Believe me. Live somewhere else where people have choices as to where to shop and you will understand what a good grocery store can be. My last stop at publix was for coconut flakes. All they had was sweetend, shredded coconut. When pressed where the dried coconut was, two people at the store told me they never heard of it and I must be crazy to think it exists. Ahhhh, publix....if it isn't in the store, it just doesn't exisit in the world.

                          1. re: scscr

                            Love the nickname. Things are bad when you actually wish Safeway were here.

                            1. re: lax2mia

                              Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons, Safeway, Gelsons or Trader Joes would be great, but what I really want is a 99 Ranch Market.

                              1. re: scscr

                                Totally forgot about 99 Ranch! There was another place on Centinela that changed its name to Mitsuwa that was really good too. I miss Han Ah Reum in the Mid-Atlantic even. Then again, there's no Sedano's outside of Miami!

                                1. re: lax2mia

                                  I used to go to the 99 Ranch on Sepulveda in Van Nuys! Great store, but you had to time it right if you wanted fish. Those short Asian grandmas have sharp elbows, and they weren't afraid to use them!

                                  I really miss being able to get that thin shaved lamb for hotpots- I can find beef and pork, but no lamb...

                                2. re: scscr

                                  Albertson's was in North Florida for around 10 years (they sold their Florida stores to Publix earlier in the year) and I was never terribly impressed with them. They managed to be better than Food World or (yuck) Winn-Dixie, but the meat and produce were only average, the bakery sucked, and their prices on middlebrow packaged products were about 20% higher than what you'd pay at other stores in the area.

                                  If you missed their attempts in the Southeast, you didn't miss much.

                                  1. re: beachmouse

                                    I never really shopped at Albertsons. I just think it's strange that we don't really have a choice in SoFla.

                              2. re: scscr

                                The problem is that when comparing Publix to Albertson's now owned by Publix, Winn Dixie and the now Sweetbay, Publix has much better service hands down. I hate the prepackaged produce but Publix's customer service is better than the rest of the pack of basic grocers. When you get into the upper ends stores like Fresh Market and Whole Foods you are into a different market.
                                I was recently out west in Colorado and went to Safeway and City Market. Neither were significantly different than what we have in Fla. except the prices were much higher on produce.

                                1. re: scscr

                                  I'm with Lax2mia, too. I hate Publix with a passion verging on homicidal rage. I've bought semi-rotten produce countless times from Publix (in many different locations -- you can't tell till you get it home because it's frigging shrink wrapped.) The Publix in my neighborhood is filthy, understocked, and half the perishable products are out of date. Shrimp? Mushy and stinking. I only shop there when totally forced to.

                                  1. re: scscr

                                    having just come back from a road trip to Ocala Fl, my first stop was to a publix, where I got myself a decent loaf of Rye bread,I'm originally from Miami and am now living in Harrison Arkansas where they don't know what a loaf of Rye bread is, nor in Springfield Missouri I'll gladly exchange all these stores for just one Publix or one Costco, so when I do go home I go to Penn-Dutch for my meats,take home loads of bread from Publix along with foods I can't get here,and thengo to Joe Patti's in Pensacola for my seafood, then boogy home.Consider yourselfs lucky.

                            2. re: amyvc

                              The Publix experience is becoming a bit more hit-or-miss (as compared to pretty uniformly bad). Depends on which store, and sometimes on just luck of the draw as to when they've restocked. I primarily go to the one in Miami Shores which is a relatively new store for Miami-Dade County.

                              Their produce is generally decent and reasonably fresh, selection is not terribly broad but is serviceable. Will occasionally come across some interesting items (saw blood oranges recently) and their organics selection is improving. The organic strawberries are delicious if you can find them. Selection of unusual latin american fruit and veg is pretty good.

                              Their poultry and pork are generally fine but their meat (beef) is just not very high quality. Winn Dixie does do beef better than Publix. Seafood is also usually pretty scary, veering between frozen stiff and stinking to high heaven.

                              Bakery is passable, deli has Boar's Head, prepared foods are not much to speak of (though for all I know the fried chicken might be good).

                              Also often some interesting finds on the shelves in the ethnic sections (Miami Shores has a good Caribbean section).

                              Doesn't even begin to compare to some of the higher end chains in other parts of the country though.

                              1. re: amyvc

                                It really is a case of your Publix may vary. My local one has minimal shrinkwrapping in the produce section, a bakery that gets crunchy breads crunchy, and if there is a marshmallow salad, I haven't seen it.

                                And their fruits and veggies actually taste like they're supposed to, unlike the woefully disappointing Fresh Market down the road, which seems to be mostly about finding the pretty apples and peaches which then smell (and taste) like absolutely nothing. They're also really expanded their organics section at my local one in the past year, and we got decent smelling and tasting apples into late April. And as someone who grew up in apple country, I'm picky about grocery store apples.

                                Bakery- good french hamburger and faux-Cuban rolls, the general bakery breads are average overall, but still much better than what you find at other grocery stores. The 'artisan' breads are significantly better, and regular buys in our house. I know they're frozen dough brought in, but they taste like real bread and not cotton candy.

                                Other organics and specialty products- they've got some sort of subcontracting deal with a local independent grocer (Modica Market in Seaside) who is responsible for selecting and stocking a lot of that category, and they do well. Lots of quirky little shelf goods that don't normally show up in other grocery stores. They also tend to come out significantly cheaper than Fresh Market on items they've got in common.

                                Fish- never buy it there since there are several local fishmarkets where I know the product was swimming in the Gulf 24 hours or less ago.

                                Meat- our butcher will cut product to request if you don't like what you see.

                                They aren't Dean & Deluca, but the Publixes here do well on middlebrow
                                products. I wonder if once you get out of their core markets in the Peninsula, they're targeting a more specialized demographic.

                                1. re: beachmouse

                                  Commenting on the same area, I love the Publix stores in Destin, Sandestin & Ft Walton on Hwy 98. Won't step foot in the one on Mary Esther anymore, they have let me down more times than I like to remember.

                              2. re: flavrmeistr

                                Oh, to be sure, Winn Dixie is much, much worse. And Flordia Albertsons' (Albertson'ses?) manage to be lousy and expensive at the same time. But whenever I'd visit family in the Philly or DC suburbs, I'd gawk at the loose green beans in the produce section and the crusty bread at the bakery and fall back to Earth.

                                I will give Publix one thing: they do tend to stock all the basic non-perishable goods a sane person would expect to find at a mainstream supermarket. You can't say that for Winn-Dixie. I lived near one in a neighborhood full of Mexicans and Central Americans and they had four(!) brands of fresh corn tortillas but stocked neither cilantro nor any Mexican-style salsas, just Ortega/Old-El-Paso crap. They'd have several cuts of lamb in the meat cases and not a single condiment of any kind involving mint. They had an olive bar, a "fancy" cheese case complete with tubs of hummus and $12 dry sausages... and no flatbread. None of any kind. Didn't have a shelf for it. Didn't stock any. And lest you think all of this was because Winn-Dixie is targeting "southerners", my neighborhood Winn-Dixies stopped carrying Moon Pies some time in 2005.

                                1. re: hatless

                                  Publix, despite the universally horrifying bakeries, differ from store to store dramatically. In the West Indian neighborhood near hear, the Jamaican/Caribbean offerings are quite extensive. Another nearby Publix stocks good salsa like Herdez. Yet another has the gourmet bakery, however exorbitant it my be for dough prepared a thousand miles away. Regardless, everyone here should complain about the produce, the lack of local produce, and the shortage of organics, etc.

                              3. re: lax2mia

                                Can't agree with you more regarding Publix. Bel-Air/Raley's are the best. Wonderful people in those stores. Sure beats the places in FL. Can't wait to go back!

                              4. re: flavrmeistr

                                I hear ya on the Publix. They're everywhere, in every kind of neighborhood, and like most places the quality does differ.

                                Is the Alton Road one the art-deco one with the crazy escalator? I have a vague memory of that...

                          2. Fresh Market in the Grove or on US1 on the way south Wild Oats and Gardner's Market.
                            Norman Brother's in Kendall not too far out of the way.

                            1. The Publix on US 1 and 146th is a cut above the other Publix. Wild Oats on US 1 takes organic food to a new low. The Fresh Market is beautiful and exorbitant. Norman Brothers is simply exorbitant. Costco is as elegant as a warehouse -- an agro-business dream.

                                Norman Brothers, Inc.
                                7621 S.W. 87th Ave.
                                Miami, FL 33173
                                Phone: (305) 274-9363

                                1. Lorenzo's Italian Market, off of West Dixie Highway in NMB. Great stuff.
                                  Try their Farmer's Market just across the parking lot for excellent fresh produce.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: keysrat

                                    It's spelled Laurenzo's (well, the Italian market is, anyway, I've never been to the farmers market) if you have trouble Googling it.

                                    The cannoli are to die for.