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Best Store Bought Pickles in DC (no restaurants)?

ViolentScarlet Sep 30, 2008 01:04 PM

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. Dennis S RE: ViolentScarlet Sep 30, 2008 01:14 PM

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

    1. HSBSteveM RE: ViolentScarlet Sep 30, 2008 02:26 PM

      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. i
        Indy 67 RE: ViolentScarlet Sep 30, 2008 02:29 PM

        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. m
          meem RE: ViolentScarlet Sep 30, 2008 05:14 PM

          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
            4X4 RE: meem Oct 1, 2008 06:41 AM

            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. Joe H RE: ViolentScarlet Oct 1, 2008 12:06 PM

            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
              Steve RE: Joe H Oct 1, 2008 07:49 PM

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

              1. re: Joe H
                CDouglas RE: Joe H Oct 17, 2008 08:11 AM

                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
                  Steve RE: CDouglas Oct 17, 2008 11:10 AM

                  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
                    CDouglas RE: Steve Oct 17, 2008 11:42 AM

                    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
                      Steve RE: CDouglas Oct 17, 2008 07:20 PM

                      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
                        CDouglas RE: Steve Oct 18, 2008 07:33 AM

                        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
                          Dennis S RE: Steve Oct 18, 2008 04:48 PM

                          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
                            steinre1 RE: Dennis S Oct 18, 2008 07:34 PM

                            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
                              pgreen RE: steinre1 Nov 9, 2008 01:08 PM

                              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
                              CDouglas RE: Dennis S Oct 19, 2008 08:00 AM

                              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
                                Steve RE: CDouglas Oct 19, 2008 08:07 AM

                                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
                      Geanhang RE: Joe H Nov 9, 2008 01:59 PM

                      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.


                    3. Gonzocook RE: ViolentScarlet Oct 1, 2008 05:58 PM

                      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. s
                        Soup RE: ViolentScarlet Oct 2, 2008 05:19 PM

                        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. t
                          tartuffe RE: ViolentScarlet Oct 3, 2008 10:21 AM

                          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
                            chowsearch RE: tartuffe Oct 18, 2008 10:43 AM

                            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
                              chowsearch RE: chowsearch Oct 19, 2008 10:00 PM

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

                          2. l
                            lukeinva RE: ViolentScarlet Oct 20, 2008 08:47 AM

                            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. re: lukeinva
                              Pesel RE: lukeinva Nov 15, 2008 03:01 PM

                              Too crunchy for me----

                            2. e
                              Ellen RE: ViolentScarlet Oct 20, 2008 05:17 PM

                              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
                                chowsearch RE: Ellen Oct 20, 2008 06:38 PM

                                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
                                  Ellen RE: chowsearch Nov 8, 2008 04:49 PM

                                  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
                                    hill food RE: Ellen Nov 8, 2008 11:39 PM

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

                                    1. re: Ellen
                                      chowsearch RE: Ellen Nov 11, 2008 10:20 AM

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

                                      1. re: chowsearch
                                        Pesel RE: chowsearch Nov 15, 2008 03:06 PM

                                        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
                                          hill food RE: chowsearch Nov 15, 2008 11:38 PM

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

                                          1. re: hill food
                                            chowsearch RE: hill food Nov 16, 2008 06:01 AM

                                            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
                                              Ellen RE: chowsearch Nov 16, 2008 04:56 PM

                                              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
                                                hill food RE: chowsearch Nov 17, 2008 01:03 AM

                                                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
                                                  hill food RE: hill food Nov 18, 2008 01:44 PM

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

                                      2. re: Ellen
                                        hill food RE: Ellen Oct 20, 2008 10:26 PM


                                        heaven, respite and sanctuary.

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

                                      3. d
                                        ditsyquoin RE: ViolentScarlet Nov 12, 2008 09:49 PM

                                        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. d
                                          dexwebster RE: ViolentScarlet Nov 13, 2008 11:33 AM

                                          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. m
                                            mrsphud RE: ViolentScarlet Nov 17, 2008 02:28 PM

                                            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. m
                                              michellerb RE: ViolentScarlet Nov 18, 2008 09:53 AM

                                              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
                                                beauxgoris RE: michellerb Nov 19, 2008 10:21 AM

                                                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
                                                  ditsyquoin RE: beauxgoris Nov 24, 2008 07:39 PM

                                                  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
                                                  Mer_Made RE: michellerb Nov 25, 2008 06:40 AM

                                                  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.

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