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Suggestions for Boston's Best Market Tour

astrid Nov 19, 2008 06:21 PM

I am going on a driving tour of Greater Boston's best non-chain food markets on Saturday. I'm skipping Chinatown because I can get there on the T... this is a driving tour.

Definite stops so far:
- Sevan, Watertown
- Russo's, Watertown
- Kam Man, Quincy

Any other suggestions for can't-be-missed markets? Is there a Japanese market somwhere? I would love to find a Greek market or a Polish/Russian/Eastern European market. Also would love Indian, Pakistani, Italian, Portuguese or Southeast Asian.

I also want the stop to be worth our while... no cramped holes in the wall with dusty jars and questionable boxes of frozen food that have been in the freezer for ages. I want truly inspiring, jaw-dropping markets that I haven't had the privilege of visiting yet.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. b
    Blumie RE: astrid Nov 19, 2008 07:35 PM

    Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge
    Wilson Farms in Lexington (although it's somewhat redundant of Russo's)
    Verrill Farm in Concord (to pay your respects)

    1. StriperGuy RE: astrid Nov 20, 2008 01:22 AM

      While you are at Sevan hit Arax.

      You can also hit the new Russian place in Needham, Baza (I think it the name).

      Karl's Sausage in Saugus.

      You'll be doing a lot of driving if you hit all those in one day.

      3 Replies
      1. re: StriperGuy
        Taralli RE: StriperGuy Nov 20, 2008 05:57 AM

        After Arax, walk half block up Mt. Auburn to Massis: http://massisbakery.com/

        1. re: Taralli
          Aromatherapy RE: Taralli Nov 22, 2008 05:49 AM

          And as long as you're at it, Eastern Lamejun and Sophia's Greek Pantry nearby on Belmont. And the nut shop on Mt. Auburn (whose name I'm blanking on--Fastashi? something like that). Tabrizi Bakery (Persian) in Watertown Sq.

          1. re: Aromatherapy
            StriperGuy RE: Aromatherapy Nov 23, 2008 07:18 AM

            Was just in Greek Pantry and they have very little worth stopping in for. Don't quite understand how they stay in business. Also Eastern Lamejun does not have much that Arax and Sevan don't cover. Tabrizi bakery however is AWESOME and Fastachi is great too.

      2. f
        fredid RE: astrid Nov 20, 2008 02:26 AM

        In town (so save for T days) - Meat etc. markets by Polonia / Dot Ave; Bazaar in Allston and Brookline (East European); itaunas suggestions for Brazilian and Portuguese markets (some of these might be better by car - Everett/Chelsea, etc. - some are near U Sq, Smville and E Somerv). Union Square has a ton of markets, AND has an "ethnic markets" tour sponseresdby Som Arts Council, where the owners chat abt their food and stories. All of these suggestions can be researched on the board except maybe the SAC tour.

        1. galangatron RE: astrid Nov 20, 2008 04:14 AM

          by car...

          battambang market (se asian, lowell)
          sure pinoy market (filipino, quincy)
          patel brothers and waltham india grocery (indian, waltham)
          new england meat market (american, italian, and greek, peabody)

          by train...

          kotobukiya (japanese, porter sq)
          baltic deli (polish, south boston)
          euromart (polish, south boston)
          berezka (russian, allston)
          bazaar (russian, brookline and allston)

          lots of other options in the area but they are T accessible

          2 Replies
          1. re: galangatron
            Mr Bigglesworth RE: galangatron Nov 20, 2008 05:28 AM

            My tour de food always includes Russo's, Savenor's, Formaggio, a stop at Christina's or Pensy's for spices, a visit to my man Carl at the New Deal Fish Market and a quick pop in to the live poultry fresh kill. Sometimes I'll go crazy and head over to Kotobukiya or to the Reliable in Union.

            1. re: galangatron
              StriperGuy RE: galangatron Nov 20, 2008 08:36 AM

              I don't really find that Kotobukiya is worth a special trip unless you are specifically seeking out Japanese items. Most of what they have can be found in other places that are much more of a destination: Kam Man, Reliable, etc.

            2. t
              Taralli RE: astrid Nov 20, 2008 05:59 AM

              And in the Southend:

              Syrian Grocery Importing Company
              (617) 426-1458
              270 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

              1. BostonZest RE: astrid Nov 20, 2008 06:02 AM

                Great topic. You are giving me so many places to explore. It made me go and pull a book from my shelf. Boston Food Lover by Lise Stern was published more than 10 years ago but, I still find useful tips. If you're ever in a used bookstore, it may be worth having.

                There is also a website at MIT for international students that I use when I'm researching topics like this. Of course I can't find the link this morning. If anyone has it, please share.

                1. BobB RE: astrid Nov 20, 2008 06:06 AM

                  I don't see that anyone's mentioned Capone Foods yet - great Italian market in Union Square, Somerville, with fresh pasta made to order in dozens of flavors and shapes, a small but well-chosen selection of cheese and salumi, imported European canned goods, and house-made frozen sauces and entrees.

                  While you're in Union Square you can also hit the Reliable Market for Japanese food, and La Internacional for Mexican.

                  La Internacional Foods Corp
                  318 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                  Capone Foods
                  14 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                  Reliable Meat Market
                  45 Union Sq, Somerville, MA

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: BobB
                    Mr Bigglesworth RE: BobB Nov 20, 2008 07:20 AM

                    I love the Syrian Grocery Store! I bought my tagine and a bottle of rather hard to find argan oil there. Plus it's right next door to the South End Formaggio.

                    Another stop if you visit Savenor's in Cambridge is the Wine and Cheese Cask. While not as impressive as say Formaggio, they do have a nice selection of cheese and meats (and an incredibly friendly staff.)

                    1. re: BobB
                      StriperGuy RE: BobB Nov 20, 2008 08:34 AM

                      I think Reliable is actually Korean, though they do have lots of Japanese products.

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        BobB RE: StriperGuy Nov 20, 2008 10:18 AM

                        You may be right. I always thought it was the other way around.

                        1. re: BobB
                          galangatron RE: BobB Nov 20, 2008 02:09 PM

                          reliable market is definitely korean

                    2. e
                      emilief RE: astrid Nov 20, 2008 10:03 AM

                      If you are venturing west, e.g. to go to BAZA, drive to Wellesley Center and visit Wasik's Cheese Shop. They are terrific people, very knowledgable about cheese and food in general, very friendly and will give you tastes of Anything you want. This Saturday you will find some specialty things they get for holidays such as the Zola Creme, a cheese made with layers of marscapone and gorgonzola, just out of this world. Their own brand of crackers Are delicious, especially the ones to go with stinky cheese.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: emilief
                        alphavulcan RE: emilief Nov 20, 2008 10:06 AM

                        What about places north of lets say Waltham? Any places worth driving to?

                        1. re: alphavulcan
                          Blumie RE: alphavulcan Nov 20, 2008 10:25 AM

                          The aforementioned Wilson Farms, in Lexington.

                          1. re: alphavulcan
                            merrvally RE: alphavulcan Nov 22, 2008 05:45 AM

                            Idylwilde Farms on Central St. in Acton.

                        2. y
                          y2000k RE: astrid Nov 20, 2008 10:15 AM

                          Be ready of massive crowds at Russo's. I only go there on weekdays now, as everytime I went on a weekend (any time) the place was completely mobbed. Not a pleasant experience IMO when you can't even walk down an aisle without being blocked in front and pushed from behind.

                          1. rubysdad RE: astrid Nov 20, 2008 06:24 PM

                            Sorry to be a bit vague, but there is a third Armenian specialty store just a short block west of Sevan and Arax, also on the same side of Mt Auburn. It is well worth the extra few paces. Each shop has its strengths-- check out the prepared foods in the refrigerated cases at rear.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rubysdad
                              PinchOfSalt RE: rubysdad Nov 20, 2008 09:22 PM

                              Perhaps you are referring to Massis? (The full name may be Massis Bakery.) I especially like their spinach and feta boregs. They heat up so nicely in a toaster oven. Yum.

                              1. re: PinchOfSalt
                                StriperGuy RE: PinchOfSalt Dec 2, 2008 08:33 AM

                                Never quite understand why anyone would prefer Massis over Sevan or Arax. I just tried some of Massis' spinach boregs and they were smallish, with less filling and less flavor then the ones at Sevan.

                                My very favorite are the large ones that Arax occasionally gets from a bakery in Montreal.

                                I just have a hard time finding anything at Massis that I can't find at one of the other stores. Does anyone have a particular item that Massis makes/sells that is really better than the neighboring stores.

                            2. AnjLM RE: astrid Nov 21, 2008 03:34 AM

                              Christina's spice shop in Inman square
                              There's also an Indian spice shop in Central Square on Mass ave but I can't remember the name of it. This may be a place to go to on the T though.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: AnjLM
                                BostonZest RE: AnjLM Nov 21, 2008 07:05 AM

                                That's Shalimar India Food & Spices - 571 Mass Ave. It's next to Central Kitchen. I shop there from time to time. It's a good one.

                                1. re: BostonZest
                                  StriperGuy RE: BostonZest Nov 21, 2008 09:32 AM

                                  The Indian grocery stores in Waltham are WAY, WAY better.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy
                                    BostonZest RE: StriperGuy Nov 21, 2008 02:48 PM

                                    Good to know. When I have a car available, I'll have to try those. Thanks.

                                    1. re: BostonZest
                                      y2000k RE: BostonZest Nov 21, 2008 02:51 PM

                                      You can get to those stores in Waltham via commuter rail, or bus #70 or #70A from Central Square. Short walk down to Moody street from the commuter rail station/bus stop.

                              2. a
                                astrid RE: astrid Nov 23, 2008 05:58 AM

                                Thank you for all the great suggestions. Driving between Quincy and Watertown took more time than anticipated, and by the time we made it to Watertown, hit the markets and had giant falafels at Fordees's, we had no desire to continue to trip to Russo's. Another weekend.

                                Highlights of my haul:
                                Kam Man - bag of shallots ($1.69!); bag of frozen lotus root, peeled and sliced (great for soups); deli container of fried eel (also great for throwing on top of rice); frozen chicken-and-lotus-root dumplings (have not been able to find these anywhere in Chinatown)

                                Massis - spinach and cheese boregs (great in the toaster for breakfast -- so fresh)
                                Arax - container of homemade apricot jam, huge bags of spices for cheap
                                Sevan - whipped french feta and red pepper spread; fried salted corn

                                That just scratches the surface, but these are the highlights that come to mind.

                                We also went in to Fistachi... from a market perspective I wasn't impressed, but it's a cute set up. We got some truffles and bundled ourselves in the car.

                                Thanks for the recs... obviously we have some more trips to plan.

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