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Jan 17, 2009 06:31 AM

MSP: "Best" Grocery Store

I am looking for some specific input. I moved from DC, where grocery stores are hit or miss...ones in "nice"neighborhoods might have awful produce and expired dairy products, etc. People often joked about the "Soviet Safeways"---short, sad looking stock.

I have been exploring all the different places to shop--Seward, Wedge, Midtown Global market, Mississippi Market, etc., but I am looking specifically for people's feedback on the "best" locations of places that have multiple locations. For example, is there a Byerly's which always seems to have great produce, or a Kowalski's which is always picked over, etc. Which Whole Foods do you like, and why? I never mind a drive for good selection, so I look forward to your advice.

Also, I went into a Cub and walked out--could smell a rotting acrid smell right away....I feel badly judging a chain by one there a "great" Cub that you shop at? Feedback on Rainbow, Aldi's, SuperTarget, Sam's etc is great ...I love a deal and will buy if the offerings are good.


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  1. I totally know how you feel. I moved here from NY about 6 months ago and it took me forever to find places to shop. I miss Hannaford and Price Chopper and would give my right arm for a Wegman's!!! The first time I walked in a Cub I was disgusted. The store was dirty and smelled bad. I went for some deli meat and found that they preslice the deli items and leave them in sitting the case all day. The guy looked at me like I was nuts because I wanted freshly sliced that point I just walked out. I have found a few different stores for different items. I like the Byerly's in St. Louis Park for cheese, good butcher's, Kosher options and always find it to be clean but basic items are more expensive. I do go to Trader Joe's and prefer the Maple Grove location. They seem to be better stocked than other locations I have tried and the customers are less aggressive. Costco is where we get meats and some produce and I find the butchers there to be very helpful. Super Target (in St. Louis Park) is hit or miss. It seems like they are very slow restocking the shelves. Yesterday we went for 3 times and two of them I couldn't get because the shelves were empty........saltines and Grape Nuts. Good luck with your search!!

    8 Replies
    1. re: phimoez

      SuperTarget is stocked by SuperValu which owns Cub. That is why you see empty shelves so often there.

      1. re: NordeastB

        True that SuperTarget has been stocked by SuperValu, but Target is slowly building their own food distribution network. But as far as empty shelves go that is not a SuperValue problem but more a store management and distribution problem. 9 times out of 10 if you ask a Target employee they will find what you want in the stock room. That's my experience in that it is a lack of experience in running a supermarket. What is frustrating to me is Target runs the store like the retail side - no reliability and consistency in product that grocery shoppers come to expect in stores. It seems they don't understand grocery shoppers buy consistently based on their meal planning habits not what is new, hot or trendy.

        1. re: Davydd

          I believe Target will be stocking all of their own groceries by the 4th quarter of this year.

        2. re: NordeastB

          I saw a SuperValu truck pulling into the Nordeast Lund's at Central and University two days ago.

        3. re: phimoez

          I live 2 miles from a SuperTarget in Lakeville. We love the convenience and prices, but unfortunately every single time I go there with a list of 10 items, I guarantee you they will be out of stock on at least 2-3 of them. And these are the basics! As a result, I refuse to step foot in the place, but my wife still goes there.

          1. re: Minnesotapix

            I have had similar experiences for years at the Lakeville SuperTarget. I've had a little better luck at both Apple Valley locations for some reason. Kind of odd.

            1. re: fdizzle

              My girlfriend and I tried shopping for all of our groceries at SuperTarget in St. Paul the other day and were sorely disappointed. Bad produce, bad prices... We went to Rainbow on Larpenteur a few days later because we didn't get the stuff we want the first time at SuperTarget. We spent 50 bucks at Target on groceries and got about half of what we got at Rainbow for the same amount of money. I love Rainbow, and I love what the parent company Roundy's did to improve the stores... but not all of those are the same. There are huge differences between the Uptown Rainbow, and one in a suburb like Woodbury.

              1. re: tstein24

                i agree whole heartedly, I dont think I will ever shop grocery, produce in particular at super target, they dont last long and ditto also super walmart... if you want grocery buy from grocery store...

        4. My favorite all around grocery store is Kowalski's in Uptown. They have great produce, a wonderful meat department, and a great cheese area. They are spendy and it is a pretty small store. I also like Lunds in Uptown, but they have less local products.

          For bulk goods, I love the Rainbow on Lake in the Midtown area (not the Uptown one). It has a huge bulk section for grains, beans, dried goods, spices, teas, etc. It also has a great Mexican/Latino section. It is clean and huge, but the checkout can be SLOW. Good place for staples, but I don't get much meat there. Conventional veggies are okay there.

          1. yep, I moved here from Chicago and had similiar culture shock (search for my thread on the price of food here!) I do not like Cub at all. We had them in Chicago and I considered them to be about the bottom of the rung as far as grocery stores go. I will say, however, they do have a very nice international aisle with very reasonable prices on imports. Now that Cost Plus World Market is closing its Minnesota locations I will probably go there for some items.

            I will go to Rainbow for the bulk items. Also, they have really good sales on things like Lean Cuisine or Healthy Choice dinners every once in a while. I am completely jealous of the Quarry Rainbow in NE. It is the nicest one I have seen. I shop the Richfield location, and it is ok, clean and bright.

            I shop Costco (mostly Eden Prairie, but they don't have liquor) for meats, dairy and some bulk dry items, as well as diapers and wipes. It is pretty much the only place I buy meat from, unless I'm in a real hurry, then I'll run to my nearby Kowalskis (on Lyndale).

            Super Target in Edina is a year old and always seems well stocked. I've had a few incidences where I could not get cilantro or green onions, but they tend to have most of what I need, prices are not bad, and I like their private label items.

            Trader Joes is good for specialty products, and we buy cheese and some deli meats there. I really only go to the SLP location since Maple Grove is a bit too far for regular shopping trips. Terrible parking situation compared to MG, but that is pretty typical of TJ locations.

            Not a fan of the Lunds in Richfield. I find it run down and small. The Byerly's in Edina is nice though. Clean, friendly, nice selection of produce, if pricey.

            Kowalski's is my closest store, and I will run there when I am in a hurry but I find their meat selection lacking. The other day I just really had a taste for polish sausage, and they didn't have any. that really bummed me out.

            4 Replies
            1. re: cheetobrain

              We have a great range of options for groceries here. As another ex-Chicagoan, I think our choices far outstrip what's available there (especially since Dominick's started going downhill).

              As far as really great selections, I would recommend the Rainbow in Richfield (at the Hub) for an overall decent selection and really good bulk section. The Byerly's in St. Louis Park is quite extensive. And the Kowalski's in Woodbury is phenomenal. It's my favorite store in the Twin Cities, though it is a real schlep from my place.

              1. re: Jordan

                You know, I never was a huge Dominicks/Jewel shopper. I lived on the far west side and had a wonderful italian market (caputos) as well as hispanic and polish markets to shop. I sorely miss Caputo's, dirt cheap produce, wonderful deli and imports at rock bottom prices. I won't even start on the fresh tortillas! So, I think even for Chicago my shopping experience was a bit unique.

                I'm learning to be flexible though! I think more than product shock I experienced sticker shock. The grocery selection is wonderful here, but the prices are something that took a while to get used to.

              2. re: cheetobrain

                With this thread in mind, I did some shopping at the Rainbow at 494 and Penn last night because I was nearby. Ugh, what a horrible experience. I've shopped at the Rainbow at the Hub before and that location is so much better. The produce department had so many empty bins. I couldn't find any organic yogurts (are they somewhere else besides with the yogurt?) and I bought a lime to make chicken tortilla soup and I swear to god there was no juice in the lime. My husband squeezed it after I did and we got maybe a teaspoon of juice out of the whole lime. I was happy to discover that Roundy's organic baby food is half the price of Earth's Best at Kowalskis, but considering we make most of our baby food I don't think going to Rainbow just for that savings is worth it.

                If you're looking for the price savings of Rainbow I'd absolutely go to the Hub over 494 and Penn.

                1. re: katebauer

                  Organic yougurt is in the organic dairy section.

              3. Lunds/Byerlies is nice for good service, nice smelling place with pretty good selection. Of course you pay on the prices. I am pretty close to one and shop there but have a hard time paying the price they charge for meat products. If you want a thick cut steak at Lunds you have to plan on $20/lb. I prefer to buy meat products at Costco and do some vacuum packing at home. The price difference is enormous for things like steak and especially racks of lamb. For fish and seafood I like to go to coastal seafood's. I think the best produce and fruit (at least of the current season) will be found at the coop stores. I live near Seward Coop and like there new store. Lastly, if you are fond of lamb (especially shanks) keep the Holy Land in your list. Lunds will "sometimes" have lamb shanks in stock at an eyepopping $9 /lb. The Holy Land seems to always have them in stock (great quality) at $4 / lb. Great for their flat bread and hummus too!.

                1. Go to United Noodle
                  Awesome selection of pretty obscure things, and you can buy freakish amounts of spices for pretty cheap. And they have durian.

                  I love Trader Joes for random cheap stuff, and their wine prices.
                  Whole Foods on Lake Calhoun is great.
                  The Wedge, Coastal Seafood, and Midtown Global are awesome.