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Cheap Spices in West LA/SM/Venice?

  • c

Does anyone know of a supermarket or ethnic foods store where I can get inexpensive herbs/spices? I am looking specifically for turmeric, chili powder, cumin seed, smoked paprika, mustard seed, regular paprika, coriander, and bay leaves. I know these are widely available, just looking for a good deal. Bonus if I can also get garam masala, harissa, and za'atar. Bulk is fine. Ideally westwood/west la/santa monica/venice. Thanks!

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  1. Inexpensive does not necessarily mean good. The best spices are going to come from somewhere like Penzey's (storefront in Torrance, but available by mail order). Amazingly good and fresh spices, and I think quite reasonable, but it depends on what you consider to be inexpensive. Or, for bulk, try the Santa Monica Co-op at 1525 Broadway.

    1525 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90404

    9 Replies
    1. re: Outerspace

      I second the Co-Op. While the spices are in bulk size containers, you can take as much or as little as you need, which is really economical. Sold by weight based on how much you fill each plastic bag with.

      1. re: Moose

        Thanks these are great suggestions! . . . dont I have to be a member to shop at the co-op though?

        1. re: Cebca

          No, you don't have to be a member to shop there. If you are, you get a discount on everything you purchase. I think it's 5%...

          1. re: Moose

            Really?! I've been by this place many times but never stopped in because I figured you had to be a member. Thanks for the info!

        2. re: Moose

          Well, I went to the co-op yesterday all excited to get some bulk spices, but when I got there they did not have any spices in bulk . . . grains, dried fruits, legumes, snacks, candies, flours, etc etc, all there in the bulk foods section but certainly no spices. Was I looking in the wrong place? I think I searched the whole store . . ..

          1. re: Cebca

            there's a small free-standing display in the back of the store [sort of central, between the paper goods aisle & the freezers along the back wall]. that's where you'll find the bulk spices. the jars are lined up along the shelves. you should have asked someone! they're very helpful there.

            the other 2 places that carry bulk spices are Erewhon and Rainbow Acres.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I checked out the bulk spices at the Santa Monica Co-Op last Friday. I was very pleased. They have one kiosk near the back with several rows of large jars. You take one of the little zip-top baggies, use a stick-on label to write the number of the spice, and use a scoop to put as much as you want into the bag. I got a couple of nutmeg nuts, some dried thyme, and some crushed red pepper. At a grocery, the nutmeg alone would probably have been three bucks. Total at the Co-Op -- sixty cents! I'll be back.

              1. re: nosh

                Just went to the Co-op on Friday and picked up everything I needed - decent quantities of 11 different kinds of spices for less than $8! Fantastic, I've definitely found a new favorite spot! Thanks for the tips everyone.

                1. re: Cebca

                  so glad you found what you needed!

                  i miss shopping there. sigh.

      2. another suggestion if quality is important - Surfas in Culver City. they're certainly not the cheapest & they don't sell them in bulk, but they do have some in restaurant-sized containers, and they carry the less common ones like za'atar, harissa & pimenton de la vera.

          1. Smart & Final
            Jons Market (LaBrea & Fountain) not east side, but........
            Zahtar Market on Sunset, just west of Normadie, in a strip mall, they should have everything

            1. On Venice Blvd just west of Overland is a Middle Eastern/Indian market with a great selection of spices. It's on the north side of the street in the same building as Coppelia's bakery by Cafe Brasil. They have all of the ones you mention above. Jordan Market on Westwood just north of Ohio has all the ones you mention as well. Both places are very reasonable priced.

              On Washington, Samosa House has a pretty good selection of spices but I doubt they carry za'atar or harissa.

              1. If you want high quality, go to Co-Opportunity on Broadway and 16th in Santa Monica. Many of their spices are organic, and while they aren't dirt cheap, they're still much, much cheaper than buying the little bottles -- especially because you can just buy a little bit and always have fresh.

                If you want dirt cheap, Tehran Market on Wilshire and 14th sells little bags for $1-2 apiece. I don't think they have smoked paprika, but I bet they have the others you mentioned. While you're there, they also have good deals on Kalamata olives and French Feta cheese.

                If you want dirt cheap and you need spices by the pint, find an Indian market. (You probably won't find one in your target area, though. Try down on Venice near Overland. I get mine from Larry's Produce on Reseda near Nordhoff in the Valley.)

                Consider making your own garam masala. I've found the difference between home-ground and store-bought to be astounding, and it's not difficult to do.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Bjartmarr

                  Near Venice in Culver City is Bahrats Bazaar/Samosa House which carries MASSIVE and more manageable portions of a wide variety of spices...

                  I will say though... Even with them so close by... I'm a Penzeys girl all the way...


                  1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                    I think Samosa House is the correct respose for affordable spices.

                    1. re: Mateo R

                      Samosa House/Bharat Bazaar on the south side of Washington near Centinela is a good place to start, especially for Indian spices and spice mixes. Almost all are sold in jars, with small and larger sizes. Stuff like turmeric, curry mixes, gharam marsala, and some of your seeds like mustard or cardamom -- good place to start and take a look around and price things. Easy parking. If you go around lunchtime, a really tasty option for takeout or casual dining there -- I'm very vague on the details but think something like a choice of two or three dishes with rice for maybe $5.99 or so. If you don't hit them up at the height of the rush they are very friendly and eager to have you try things -- my last visit was after 11 when they were just beginning to set things out.

                      Once you get a feel for what is available there, head west and hit up the Co-op. Compare and contrast. And please report back on your findings and purchases.

                      Trader Joe's does have its usefulness -- Good inexpensive extravirgin olive oil, very inexpensive balsamic vinegar, and yes their vanilla beans can be a good buy. They sell some fresh herb packets in their chilled fresh vegetable sections for about $1.69 per small package -- significantly cheaper than my Ralph's, but still dear enough for me to once again consider planters that will whither and die.

                2. I'm surprised no one mentioned Trader Joe's. It's one of the very few places that has really good deals on spices. I particularly love the fact that I can get vanilla beans for less than $4 for a jar of two beans...compared to $8-11 at the grocery store. They do stock most of the spices you are looking for.

                  1. Not as far west as you requested, but at Erewhon you can buy pre-packaged cello-wrapped herbs/spices (I can’t remember the brand name), both organic/conventionally harvested starting around $1+ (depending on oz/type) and various brands of bottled herbs/spices for more $$.

                    Erewhon Natural Foods Market
                    7660-B Beverly Blvd.
                    Los Angeles, CA 90036
                    (323) 937-0777
                    8AM-10PM Mon-Sat
                    9AM-9PM Sun

                    1. i've often found cheap spices at the 99 cent store on washington near rosabel.

                      1. if you live anywhere near playa del rey, i'd be happy to pick some of the leaves off my bay laurel tree for you.