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Oct 19, 2007 08:44 AM

Reading, Pa - Gourmet groceries?

Do any chowhounders in my area have recommendations on markets or stores where I can find unique gourmet food items? I frequent a few places such as the Shillington Farmer's Market, and my local super, the Giant on Van Reed, which has a decent selection (for a chain). But, I miss the high level of baked goods, meats, produce, and specialty items from where I used to live in Ohio. Where do the foodies go to shop around here?

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  1. I live in philly, but my family lives in Reading and I work there as well. My mom is a retired cater, so I feel like I am in the know on specialty foods and unfortunately you do not have a lot of options. There is a market at the Fairgrounds Mall on 5th street that is open Thursday - Sunday and they sell some specialty items. There is a New Orleans stand called Jambalaya J 's which is pretty good, I went to college in New Orleans and he changes his specials weekly and always has zydeco music playing. There is also a Greek stand that sells pretty good gyro's and an Italian stand that sells pretty good bread. The market has more of a Pennsylvania Dutch feel to it, with lots of Amish selling everything from fried chicken to fresh squeezed Orange Juice. There is also a gourmet stand that sells Boar's Head meat about 1- 2 dollars per pound less than the supermarkets. My mom gets different meats from here, but I forget which butcher she goes to ( there are quite a few ). There is also a gourmet takeout/ sit down place called Cloud 9 in Wyomissing that has fresh soups made daily and all kinds of gourmet sandwiches and salads. They have weird hours and are open for breakfast. They sell smoothies, gourmet coffee and assorted baked goods. I would definitely check this place out. If you like wings, you should definitely check out The Peanut Bar. It has been around along time and they have other good food as well. A more adventurous place is El Puente. This is on 6th st. in downtown Reading. It is pretty much a shack where an older woman makes tacos and quesadilla's. The tacos are very fresh, but she does not speak english and it is in a bad area. I use to live in Arizona and the tacos are on a soft tortilla, double wrapped and very authentic and cheap. If you are looking for fine dining, the best and closest place is The Green Hills. It is expensive, but is very good. I hope this helps.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Adamlick

      Cloud 9 - I used to work there 7 years ago. I assure you, everything is fresh, made from scratch, and quite tasty! I miss that place. :)

    2. Where do the foodies go to shop around here?.......

      Wegmans in Downingtown, Whole Foods in Wayne and Trader Joes on 202 !
      I do shop the Giant on Van Reed. I'm starting to miss all the farm stands for fresh
      vegetables, especially Petes Produce near West Chester.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Marilyn

        Thanks Marilyn. I just heard of a place called Russo Food Market in Wyomissing. Not sure what it's like because their webpage has been under construction forever. I'm going there this afternoon to check it out.

        1. re: egbluesuede

 did you like Russo's...I forgot about that is much
          better than it was...the Grande family now owns it. They use to have Casa Grande Restaurant. There is alot of good stuff at Russo's and they now make
          prepared foods to go. They also make their own Italian sausage.

          1. re: Marilyn

            LOVED it. It was exactly what I was looking for. Kinda tucked away location, so I had never seen it before. Didn't know the Grande family owned it, but it's a classy little store. Everything very clean and organized, and excellent prices. Same items at Giant are more expensive, and awesome selection. There is an entire aisle for olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Two aisles for pastas! I guess the Grande family probably explains the heavy Italian influence on products. I was hoping for more asian and latin, although they do have some nice stuff for that. Great cheese selections. Not far from my house, so I can see this being a regular stop for me!

            1. re: egbluesuede

              Hello egbluesuede...for asian foods, you can go to Mang Joly's on 5th st. Hwy in Temple across from the Super Walmart (near Sam's Club). It's mainly a Filipino store but they also have Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Thai food items.

              1. re: egbluesuede

                Oh, and if you are looking for a particular asian food item, Gheng the owner can most likely get it for you.

        2. I grew up in suburban Reading and visit family once or twice a year (or they visit me here in Indiana). One place I've loved to shop for food has been Echo Hill Country Store, between Fleetwood and Dryville. Basically, it's a bulk foods store, but they carry all manner of stuff, much of it organic. They carry ordinary and "weird" staples--all manner of flours, lentils and beans, great jams and jellies, non-dairy milks, nuts, dried fruits, unusual pastas, etc. It's run by Mennonites and don't be surprised to see a horse and buggy in the parking lot. They carry my absolute favorite apple butter--Bauman's No Added Sugar With Spice. Really thick and very dark brown. I always ask my mom to bring a few jars when she and my dad come to visit me (I've yet to find decent apple butter in Indiana; here they don't understand the difference between apple BUTTER and apple SAUCE). I also ask them to bring me organic French baby lentils--yes, I can get them at Wild Oats for about 4 times the price! And I seconde Adamlick's recommendation of the Peanut Bar--I haven't been there in years (not since I left for the midwest), but I always enjoyed good food when I did eat there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nofunlatte

            I must dredge this old post up from the basement, and obscurity, to thank nofun from the bottom of my heart. My local bulk foods place has became inconsistent, and echo hill was well worth the 40 minute drive.

            Best selection of things of seen, BY FAR the best vanilla extract I've ever purchased, and I'm really sad that we've eaten all the eggs we've gotten from there as well! :) I have a feeling many visits will be factored into my future shopping trips.

          2. I do a lot of my shopping at fairgrounds farmers market and stock up on certain things when I'm near a Wegmans. I haven't tried Russo's yet. There are also a lot of hole in the wall places in the city that you can find interesting ingredients. That is just hit or miss though.

            4 Replies
            1. re: kitchenkiki

              I've heard other people mention Wegmans before. What is that place like?
              If you get the chance, stop into Russo's. It's near The Works in Wyomissing. Heavy on Italian, but lots of nice stuff and VERY good prices. I was impressed.

              1. re: egbluesuede

                There's a Wegmans in Dowiningtown and it's a big grocery store. Great ethinic section, cheese area, olive bar, prepared foods, bakery - everything really. Whenever I need something specific I know I can find it there. The produce area has black truffles (in a locked case mind you), all the veggies and herbs you could ever need and quality fruit. Worth checking out if you are ever near one

                1. re: keby

                  When I die, I want to be have my ashes sprinkled in Wegman's.

                  It will spoil you for virtually any other supermarket shopping experience, & their web site is astounding. The only caveat is that it is not inexpensive.

                  1. re: PattiCakes

                    FYI- theres a wegmans being built on 422 at the exit for 29. Phoenixville/collegville area. Depending where you live in Reading, it might be a shorter drive. Oh thats right its on 422, no way is it going to be a shorter drive ;)