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Jun 30, 2007 11:02 AM

Nashville - best food markets?

Where are your favorite places to buy ingredients in and around Nashville?

As a relative newcomer, here's what I've found so far:

Freshest fish - Harris Teeter

Best everyday seasonal veggies - Farmer's Market

Best selection of Indian ingredients - International Market at Farmer's Market

Pleasantest little joint to shop - Produce Place

Coffee - I've just had my taste buds piqued by Drew's Brews, the house coffee at Sips (new place at Riverside & McGavock in Inglewood). I understand Drew was roaster for some years for Bongo Java. What I tasted had really interesting notes - berries, acids, not your run of the mill cup of joe.

Best whole grain bread - Great Harvest Bread Co. in Green Hills

I'd love to find a good source for Asian ingredients like mirin, rayu and rice wine vinegar and also a good source of Contintental ingredients. I just recently became a fan of champagne vinegar, banyuls vinegar, and salt-dried Tunisian capers - wow! - and would love to explore more of these kinds of ingredients.

Also, any leads on good fresh corn tortillas? In Chicago you can pick up a small pack for a quarter, often still hot from the tortilleria (sp.) and full of flavor. Here I see packs of 100 (?!) corn tortillas next to the smaller packs of flour tortillas.

Looking forward to hearing about everyone's faves-

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  1. I get my Asian groceries from 3 places:
    * InterAsian market on Nolensville Road near I-440. Proprietors are Laotian and the selection skews toward Laotian/Thai/Cambodian. The produce is good, with a pretty good selection, and it's cheap.
    * K&S World Market -- two locations, one on Charlotte Avenue and another way out Nolensville Road near the intersection with Harding. The two carry different selections. The Charlotte location skews heavily Korean with a good smattering of Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Latino and Middle Eastern. THe Nolensville Rd location has more Latino and African. Both have the biggest selection of fish and seafood in town, most of it very fresh, some of it live, in tanks, plus sushi grade fish, and a big selection of seafood. The produce aisles at both are enormous. The Nolensville Rd location is a good bet for corn tortillas, but I can't recall having seen them in small packs.

    * Global Market on Ridley Blve near the Adventure Science Center, Ft Negley and Sounds Stadium. There's a good selection of European and Middle Eastern here, including Russian, African, British, Spanish with a lot of Filipino (I think the proprietor's wife, recently deceased, was Filipina). They do not carry fresh produce.
    * If you live on the west side of town, you're convenient to a tiny Japanese grocery store in Lion's Head Village next to the Anatolia and the Japanese restaurant. It's packed with Japanese things, if you need something really specific, but not worth a drive across town for mirin, which you can get at any of the other markets.
    * La Hacienda on Nolensville Rd operates a tortilla factory behind the grodery store/restaurant. You might check the store, which is situated to the left of the restaurant, for smaller packages of tortillas.
    * The Howell family operates two produce stands in Green Hills -- one at I440 and one near the post office -- and they offer very good vegetables from April to October. THey bring in their own corn and tomatoes this time of year, their own field peas and greens amd other delights.

    Happy 'houndin'!

    3 Replies
    1. re: fluffernutter

      * If you live on the west side of town, you're convenient to a tiny Japanese grocery store in Lion's Head Village next to the Anatolia and the Japanese restaurant. It's packed with Japanese things, if you need something really specific, but not worth a drive across town for mirin, which you can get at any of the other markets.

      Do you happen to have the name and address of this Japanese store?
      I am looking for a Japanese snack called Calorie Mates. I would love to purchase them locally instead of over the internet. Thanks!

      1. re: tenshi_noyo

        Sonobana is the name. It's in the Lion's Head shopping center on White Bridge Road next to Calhoun's and Steinmart, and near the Target. It occupies the spot right next to the Japanese restaurant whose name I can't recall because it changed a couple of years back. The grocery store is absolutely tiny -- just about 10 feet square. One wall is freezer, one is a cooler, and two are dry ingredients. There's an island in the center crammed with nori and snacks. I haven't seen that snack there, but they do have a lot of Japanese snacks. Maybe they would order it for you.

        1. re: fluffernutter

          The restaurant is also called Sonobana.

    2. I'm with you on the first three places on your list. The International Market has been expanding its selection of east Asian ingredients recently. It'll probably never get to be as comprehensive as K&S, but you may start finding more stuff there. They also welcome suggestions.

      As for coffee, I think that Portland Brew has the best selection of beans in town (so many Indonesian and East African varieties, the best!) and a better touch with the roaster than Bongo Java. I always find the Bongo Java beans mushy and the coffee reflects it. I've drunk some Drew's Brews coffee, though, and it's fine. But check out Portland Brew if you're not familiar with their stuff.

      Continental ingredients? Well, you can find some decent, eclectic, overpriced stuff at Marche, good Italian basics at Savarino's Cucina and the Italian Market on 51st (? I love the place and I always forget the name). The Italian Market also carries fresh mozzarella -- the real stuff, not the stuff they sell at grocery stores. Call and find out when they're making it. There's an Italian cheese (Formaggieria? again with the brain death; sorry) and wine store on 12th South.

      There are several tortillerias on Nolensville Road. La Hacienda does have the most reliable.

      Hope this helps.

      1. I offer another hearty recommendation for K & S market... it's so huge you might get overwhelmed, but dive in! Their produce selection is nothing short of shocking (in a good way).

        Turnip Truck in 5 Points is great, everyone there is SO kind and helpful, and they often have some surprising gourmet options as well as beautiful organic offerings. Sometimes you'll find some gorgeous pieces of fish in their cooler...

        I have to guiltily admit that the Fresh Market in Brentwood has made my knees weak the two times I've sucked it up and trekked out there... breathtaking cheeses, amazing olive oil selections, etc. Maybe give them a try for your Fancy Schmancy vinegars and things.

        I also concur with your 'freshest fish;" we got some really lovely tilapia on Thursday for $3! For two filets!

        I live in East Nashville and find grocery shopping over here to be, in general, a gross misadventure. But I have also been infuriated by the poor quality of the produce at the Green Hills Kroger when I've made the effort to go over there, expecting much more than our crappy East side options.

        Rumour has it there is an amazing ethic grocery over here, on Gallatin Road right before Briley Parkway...I think it's called the Madison Inglewood Market, and I know some passionate people in the food industry in Nashville who swear by it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: delaneymae

          Fresh Market is really wonderful, if breath-takingly expensive. Go there for the meat and prepared foods and fancy vinegars and tapenades, but resist the temptation to buy other stuff -- a box of cereal is $5 and a bar of soap is $2.

          The Green Hills Kroger is an insult to grocery shoppers. The produce is substandard, unripe and overpriced. Key products are only available in Kroger brand and the store is arranged so you must walk down an aisle of expensive food (chips and snacks) to get to the inexpensive stuff (dairy). And until you learn that the frozen meat and other frozen foods are on opposite sides of the store, and the pasta sauce and pizza sauce are several aisles apart, you spend a lot of time walking up and down aisles. I can't wait until the Whole Foods open -- it's expensive, but you actually get something extra for your money.