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Jan 22, 2009 01:17 PM

Favorite Local Businesses, NOT chains

I really enjoy supporting local businesses--bakeries, ice cream shops, small restaurants, sandwich joints, brunch spots, etc. I'm interested in knowing how well all of YOU know the local shops! Do you have favorite store owners/chefs who are terrific, funny, and enjoyable people? Do you sometimes stop by to chat just as much to pick up a loaf of their bread? I'm looking for those neighborhood jewels--both the eats AND the people. Thanks!

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  1. *Every single business* discussed in these threads, from beginning to end is a local business, not a chain. In fact, all chain discussions are moved to the chains board. So, that's a pretty broad request.

    Is there a particular neighborhood, service or cuisine you're looking for? If not, just browse or search the board and you'll find a broad array of local restaurants, butcher shops, specialty food stores, etc. in a variety of neighborhoods serving everything from Afghan to Zambian cuisine.

    2 Replies
    1. re: oolah

      U.S. Grown - Puerto Rico which Porto Rico carries.

      The thing I don't like about (at least the St. Marks store) Porto Rico is the intimidating and confusing sign about where to stand and how to order. I went in, saw a line in either direction, and walked out without buying anything. I may be wrong, but when I am shopping I want to be treated with the same courtesy and respect that I show to anyone else.

      1. re: nychas

        I've heard this before, and when I was 16 and in college, was intimidated (true at the Bleecker shop too). Stand in line and they'll get to you with personal service once your turn is up. It's confusing at first, but if you're there for good coffee beans, well worth it.

    2. Porto Rico coffee. Roasted in Williamsburg, 3 locations (don't test me on this) in the Village--I'd use the one on Bleecker near 6th. I've been using their beans since 1989 and had it shipped to me when I lived outside of NY (including now). The most incredible coffee in the world. Bird friendly/fair trade/organic/shade grown if you want. Great prices which are cheaper than Starbucks, DD, and other national brands. If you like tea, they have that too--sold by the ounce if you want to taste a bunch of different ones without having to commit to any one variety until you know what you want. So the beans aren't local (aside from HI, does the US even grow beans?), but they have every type. Walk into the store, or even pass by, and the aroma entices you. If you order 10lbs in the mail, the mailroom (or receptionist's desk) will smell like freshly roasted coffee. And if you have a Pavoni--they will grind it perfectly for you. I love this company.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Caralien

        Can't speak to their coffee, but tea-lovers will prefer something better. For one thing, coffee and tea in the same retail space works to the detriment of the tea (coffee being so strong in aroma). Disclaimer: I used to buy a fair amount of tea at Porto Rico, years ago.

        In New York, anyway, try this place for tea. Dedicated tea-loving owners, without the attitude of Ten Ren, and better tea:

        1. re: comestible

          The Tea Gallery is open by appointment only "Please call ahead if you wish to visit so that we can accommodate you."

          I'm not a tea expert, but for coffee, I haven't had better than Porto Rico.

      2. I do very much wish to support local food places. I am not in a neighborhood awash in first-quality Chowhound-praiseworthy establishments, however. Still, we have decent restaurants, and in my non-upscale nabe, I am happy to support them, lest they go away and leave us with worse. Sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good.

        1. Murray's Cheese shop. If you step in, your nose will tell you to leave, or stay. It's pungent. Like Porto Rico, a seemingly mad house in the shop. But the ability to try so many differerent cheeses at very reasonable prices is incredible. That the staff questions things (occasionally gruffly) is only to find your taste. Wait your turn and you'll be helped. And your tastebuds will thank you.