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Best Store Bought Pickles in DC (no restaurants)?

I'm in search of a decent jar of pickles in DC. Having grown up in southeast Michigan, which has a surprisingly large number of great delis, and also having lived in NY, I'm going through major pickle withdrawal here in DC. I'm a fan of most types of pickles - half sour, full sour, new dill, extra garlicky, whatever...I'm just sick of grocery store-bought clausen's or whatever else have you that just taste nothing like the pickles you get at a Jewish deli in NY. Even Loeb's, which is as close to a NY deli as you can get in DC, has terrible pickles.
Can anyone point me to a grocery store or somewhere else that sells jars of great pickles (not just one pickle that comes as a side to a sandwich) in DC? The furthest I could go is really close suburban MD or VA (no further than Arlington or Bethesda). Anywhere from downtown to Adams Morgan is the easiest. I hear Ba-Tempte pickles are good but I haven't seen those at my local Safeway.

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  1. It's a little out of your range, but the German Gourmet offers a few that are hard to find anywhere else.

    1. Ba-Tampte are the best - available at Giant, but it's the luck of the darw whether you find a batch that's a nice bright green. Sometimes, they're all off-color.

      1. Whole Foods sells Bubbie's brand pickles and picked tomatoes. They're as close to NY deli pickles as you're likey to get.

        1. The only dill pickles I buy are the Giant brand which amazes me as I've never been keen on store brand items. Maybe it's because Giant was founded and run by a Jewish family for many years that their own dill pickles taste great??? Who knows? But IMO they are far superior to Mt Olive (my next favorite brand). I've always thought Vlasic has an odd taste to its brine. Now they don't taste like the dill pickles you get in a bowl in a Jewish deli...but they're very good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: meem

            I think Snider's in Silver Spring sells Ba-Tampte.

            I like the Deitz and Watson pickles sold at Shopper's Food Warehouse deli.

            Sometime soon I'm going to buy a crock and try the dill pickle recipe I saw on Good Eats.

          2. The single best are the individual sour pickles from Dietz and Watson (ninety nine cents each) sold "out of the barrel" at Harris Teeter. This is a free standing barrel sold by their deli counters. Wegman's sell Straub's from Toronto which are seriously good sour and half sour pickles. Wegman's used to sell D & W sours from the barrel but stopped months ago replacing them with an inferior brand. Bubbie's (at Whole Foods) are also Canadian pickles but I think a step below D & W barrel ickles. Ba-Tempte has excellent full sour "Garlic Pickles" and Half Sours; the garlic are, for me, superior. Also, Krupin's Deli on Wisconsin used to have seriously good pickles.

            I would discount any pickle sold from a jar at room temperature.

            The best sour pickles of all by the way are from Montreal (yes, I've had Zingerman's and also Guss') at Schwartz's Deli which, I understand, is closing. I believe they are from Mrs. Whyte's.

            Last, forgive me for saying this but you are missing out on a lot but not being able or willing to drive to the 75,000 square foot Whole Foods in Fair Lakes or the 135,000 square foot Wegman's in Fairfax or Sterling.

            12 Replies
            1. re: Joe H

              The Ba-Tempte pickle to get is the "Garlic Dill." It is a full-sour pickle.

              1. re: Joe H

                Inspired by Joe's post I held a supermarket barrel pickle tasting comparing Teeter with Giant. Teeter's DW pickle was excellent but the skin was deemed tough and somewhat chewy. Giant's barrel brand is now Boar's Head. The BH pickle was judged saltier, slightly firmer of flesh and with a thinner, less chewy skin. The BH pickle won in my mini-competition.

                1. re: CDouglas

                  These are stil both the wrong flavor. The Ba-Tempte Garlic Dills you can snack on by themselves and they are pure pleasure. The D&W flavor profile is similar to what's on the shelves.

                  1. re: Steve

                    I have had my eye out for these but still have not seen them in the stores I frequent. Where do you buy yours locally?

                    1. re: CDouglas

                      A little market called Safeway. I shop the one at Seven Corners (Rte 50 and Patrick Henry). They are a dead ringer, in flavor, for Gus's Full Sour pickle in the Lower East Side.

                      1. re: Steve

                        I almost never shop at Safeway for some reason, preferring Teeter and Giant. I will make a stop there today and see what brands I have been missing out on.

                        1. re: Steve

                          Steve - found them today and picked up the Garlic Dills. Those are the ones you're recommending over the half sours, right?

                          They're good. The overall taste really is of a deli pickle. They aren't too zesty, though, and both my wife and I were disappointed on that front. They're also not as crunchy as we'd hoped.

                          My wife recalls a place in Olney, BJ Pumpernickels, who had a great pickle (my what a pickle on you) - that was a NY Jewish deli. I wonder if it's still around? She remembers they had great pickles.

                          Edit: Just searched and they do still exist it seems. Gotta go gotta go. Anyone else know of this place?

                          1. re: Dennis S

                            Yes, BJ Pumpernickels is still going strong. My family thinks the quality of the restaurant may have slipped a little, but still a decent place to eat. They have a pickle bar where you can eat as much as you like. They definitely have all types of pickles (half-done, sweet, dill) and pickled tomatoes and sauerkraut. I'm not sure if you can buy any to go, but I don't see why not...

                            1. re: steinre1

                              I agree that it has slid. It is in pretty desparate need of new seating and a bit of updating. That said, it's not a bad deli, and the pickle bar is very nice. I am pretty sure, however, that they serve BaTempte. Since I like BaTempte, that's not a bad thing.

                            2. re: Dennis S

                              I got them yesterday as well. I agree with Dennis. Really nice garlic flavor but the texture was more Vlasic than Claussen, with Claussen being closer to the texture I prefer.

                              Definitely reminded me of a deli pickle in overall flavor.

                              1. re: CDouglas

                                The Ba-Tempte half sours will have more crunch, but they'll be relatively mild in flavor. For as long as I've been eating pickles, including regular visits to the pickle vendors on Hester Street on Sunday mornings, that's the trade off.

                    2. re: Joe H

                      I agree with you on Montreal being the best source for sour pickles. But what you said about Schwartz's Deli - that you understand it's "closing" - can't possibly be right. Where in heaven's name did you hear that? It's a much beloved institution both inside and outside Montreal, with a particularly rabid following within the City, and I'm extremely confident that if Schwartz's Deli ever closes, there would be word of it all over the internet. Yet I googled "Schwartz's" and "close or closing" and I came up with zero. So what's your source? Probably time to ignore everything that "source" tells you in the future.

                      George

                    3. Shalom Kosher Market in Wheaton has a nice selection of Ba-Tampte products (I found out about the store via this board) plus another brand whose name I forget, but they come in a little plastic tub. Wheaton is a bit farther than Bethesda, but you can use the Red Line metro.

                      1. probably not the answe you are looking for but I love mount olive dill pickles (the whole ones). Also a big fan of vlasic. Yes, I like the half sours and full sours you can get in NY but if I have the choice I pick those two grocery standards everytime.

                        1. If you ever make it to Baltimore, there are great picles at Attman's on Corned Beef Row downtown and in the downtown Farmers' Mkt.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: tartuffe

                            Yes Attman's and Sunday under-JFX farmers market pickleman who has every degree of doneness from green to murky. $7 a quart. Pickle size varies, last week they were little--but good. Brings from NYC. Official market closes 12 but he's open til 1230. One of the ways Bmore eats beat DC.

                            1. re: chowsearch

                              The pickleman does DC area farmers markets too: tuesday bethesda, weds rockville thurs riverdale saturday vienna

                          2. Cornichons. Available at Trader Joes. They are French (but used all over Europe), very strong vinegary little pickles about the size of your pinky. Once you try them they are addicting.

                            1 Reply
                            1. There is a guy who makes and sells a variety of good pickles at the Famer's market in the center of Bethesda (I believe its on Tuesday afternoons). (Note: Not the Farm Women's Cooperative) I think he's called the pickle guy. I started making my own half sours recently after I found out how rediculously easy they were. Better than Ba-Tampte, which outside of Zabar's or the old Krupin's were my available option. And you never know when you're going to come across a batch of fresh Ba-Tampte vs. the ones that have been hanging around a while.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: Ellen

                                That's the farmers market guy I was referring to above, the Pickleman, at Bethesda. His half-done ones are great, though more garlicky than necessary. He drives them down from his friend's operation on the Lower East Side of NYC. How do you make yours? Do you use kirbies? Regular cucumbers?

                                1. re: chowsearch

                                  I use kirbys. For each quart of pickles, I use two table spoons of kosher or sea salt, a few pepper corns, a couple coarsly chopped cloves of garlic, a bay leaf and filtered water. Make sure the salt is dissolved and the pickles stay fully submerged, put in the fridge, and enjoy in three to four days. If they stay in the fridge, they just get more pickled, but I like to eat them within a week or two. Some recipes call for vinegar but i've tried it both ways and prefer them without. I use fresh dill too if I have it. You can use the cucumbers whole or thickly slice them. Works fine either way..

                                  1. re: Ellen

                                    bay, an acorn or a wine cork are good for maintaining crispness (tannin).

                                    1. re: Ellen

                                      Thanks--so how does the non-vinegar method compare tastewise? Does it taste more cucumbery? Sweeter? Less pickly?

                                      1. re: chowsearch

                                        It's healthier and if you put in the right amount of spices and dill they taste like they come from the barrel, not a manufactured jar brand.

                                        1. re: chowsearch

                                          less tart. less "pucker" with the non-vinegar, although the vinegar kind will last much longer.

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            Thanks. Where does one find good out-of-season kirbies? at H-Mart, Lotte Plaza and Whole Foods I've had highly variable kirbies...or does one just wait for summer?

                                            1. re: chowsearch

                                              I'm waiting until next summer. The nice thing is that when they're in season, you can make a fresh batch every week. i was making them July-October. I still have some in the fridge but they're pretty much full sour by now. I did see kirbys at Wegmans today but didn't check them out. If you decide to try them, just soak them in cold water for an hour or so before you put them in the brine. It's not much of an investment in time or money so give it a shot. Try one batch with vinegar and one without and see what you like best.

                                              1. re: chowsearch

                                                I'll prob. hit Harris T in a day or 2 - that's where I found Kirby's this summer, so I'll look and post if they look good. but personally I want to get into Fall/Winter options.

                                                1. re: hill food

                                                  Harris T's looked fine today -$1.99/lb.

                                      2. re: Ellen

                                        Zabar's...

                                        heaven, respite and sanctuary.

                                        if it were sanitary (or theologically appropriate) I'd ask my ashes be spread there.

                                      3. BT will do in a pinch but the best pickles to be had in your area is Parkway deli at 8317 Grubb Rd in Silver Spring, off east-west hwy three lights west off of 16th st. I know your frustration...the deli managers at Parkway will let you taste and choose between the barrels. I prefer the half sours. It's a real kosher deli.

                                        I've still got three pickles in my refrigerator that I brought home from NJ wrapped up in a napkin on the train. Each bite is savored.

                                        1. Chutzpah Deli (one in Tyson's Corner, one in Fair Oaks), has Ba-Tempte half sours and garlic dills (and Ba-Tampte sauerkraut, if you care). They don't advertise that's what they are, but, well, I worked there.

                                          1. Okay - for the record Parkway is not a Kosher deli, not even a kosher style deli. While it seems to be the best we can do in the DC area, it is just a bit above adequate to one who grew up in Miami with real kosher delis and Seashore pickles made with sea brine. Having said that the Pickle man of local farmer's market fame can be found winter time at the Eastern Market. While my son is partial to the half sours, the full sours have a pepper snap at the end that really makes it a stand out.

                                            1. wish i had seen this post earlier - the Riverdale Farmer's Market in Maryland (just closed for the season) has a great vendor called "In a Pickle" they have a hug variety of pickles they sell by the quart. They'll be back next May.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: michellerb

                                                I agree with ditsyquoin - the best pickles in your area are at Parkway Deli. They may not be made with seawater (?) but they're the most authentic deli pickles that I've had around here, selection and taste wise.

                                                1. re: beauxgoris

                                                  While the pickles are still great at Parkway, I agree it is not a kosher deli anymore. I was shocked at the menu the last time I ate there-"Fey".

                                                  However, while seaching for tiles for my kitchen I did discover a priceless area of Kosher delights in Silver Spring/Rockville-the Kosher Glatt strip mall at 4860 Boiling Brook Pkwy. Koshermart which is real large grocery store, Indian and Chinese that advertise kosher on their menuboards, and the priceless bagel shop-just like NY where I had the most delicious lox. I wasn't in the mood for a pickle but I am sure they have them. The mah-jong mavens tried to entice me into a game with a hamatachen but I resisted knowing I had harroset to spread under my new bought tiles.

                                                2. re: michellerb

                                                  I think Ellen is talking about him further up the thread.

                                                  He's at Eastern Market on Saturdays, and I think he's going to start going on Sundays soon. Which is a good thing, since I find the olives addictive.