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Sep 30, 2008 01:04 PM

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.