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Scared about Salem

We are relocating from metro Boston to Salem and I am wondering about basic foodie questions. Is there really no Wholefoods or Trader Joes? Is there a cheese shop or a food coop? I read the 2008 posts about restaurants and feel a little sad. Where do people buy groceries? Apprehensively waiting a response.

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  1. Salem Oregon right? Ouch. So sorry to hear it. What a dump, as Bette Davis would have said. Be very afraid.
    You'll have to come up to Portland to shop.
    New Seasons is a local chain and much better than either of those. Not in Salem though. http://www.newseasonsmarket.com/
    Also don't miss our farmers' market, opening for the season in a month. http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org/
    On the bright side: you are close to the dining and wineries of pinot country.

    1. Whole Paycheck and TJs are a short jaunt up the freeway. LifeSource Natural foods on Commercial gets a good deal of my business.

      A year-round farmers market is at

      and expands to Wednesdays most of the year.

      There's no need to spend gas and traffic frustration when you can shop locally. Personally, I avoid Portland traffic and attitudes as much as I can.

      Eugene has a great variety of natural stores, a TJs, and a great, friendly atmosphere as well, if you really feel the need to drive.

      Give me a holler when you get here, and I'll be happy to help out!

      1. Boston to Salem is going to be a huge transition in so many ways. Hopefully, you are interested in leaving city life behind and embracing the benefits of living in a smaller community. I moved from Chicago to Bellingham in the '80s, but it was by choice ... to make a change and flee city life. It was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. If I need the city, I drive to Seattle or Vancouver but I don't want to live in either of those places.

        Keep an open mind when you arrive in your new city and forget about people who have nothing but blanket criticisms. I have never lived in Salem, but spent a few days there with my family and enjoyed it. We found plenty of fine restaurants (check out Marco Polo and breakfast at Busick Court) and a great chocolate shop, fun coffee house, and other things. Somehow I've managed to live my life without a Whole Foods (and gladly, so) and until recently without a TJs in my city. Of course, we have an awesome Co-op so that helped a lot. But, we also have plenty of other great grocery stores and I'm guessing you'll find something in Salem, too.

        Good luck with your move.

        1. Oh, good grief, you're not going to starve! Salem isn't a metropolis, but it's not exactly a one horse town, either. It's in the Willamette Valley, a fertile farming area, so local produce should be readily available. There is a seasonal farmer's market, but regular groceries stock at least some locally grown fruits and vegetables. A quick websearch turned up a natural foods market: http://www.lifesourcenaturalfoods.com...

          There are also a lot of good local wines to try and Oregon produces some wonderful cheese as well. Unfortunately, I haven't lived in Salem for 25 years, so any personal recollections would be woefully out of date...(I usually shopped at Roth's for groceries, as I recall), but I think I'm safe in recommending a quick jaunt down I-5 to Albany for Novak's Hungarian restaurant. It's the restaurant I miss the most.

          1. And we have a new French Restaurant: http://www.lacapitalesalem.com/ , which I visited for the first time last night (will write a separate review) that's just fantasic.

            A creperie is set to open soon, also.

            1. In response to your question about where people shop, while you are correct that Salem does not have a TJs or a Whole Foods (and neither is likely to open here soon), we do have a wonderful independent grocery store, Roth's (several locations in the Salem-area and around the Willamette Valley).

              1. I lived in Salem for a year and have in-laws that have been there for over 30 years. Coming from Boston, it is going to be a major change. Definitely check out the Saturday farmer's market; you can find a lot of great quality products there. Roth's is expensive, but should fill in the holes that you'll find at the other supermarkets. Don't know about coops, but I'd be surprised if there aren't any around. The wine industry is exploding and will be a major bonus for you if you are interested.

                1. I think that once you have a look around you'll like it here. The Pacific Northwest is a foodie dream: abundant oceans for fresh seafood, fertile farmland (Salem's in the heart of it) for local produce and wines and free-range/organic meat, and great wild harvest mushrooms and berries. IMHO, LifeSource is a much better choice for artisan cheese than Roth's - they have a better selection and better prices. I'd say that the two businesses compete head to head for the 'gourmet' label. TJ's is just up I-5 if you need to load up every so often, but it's likely that LifeSource can special order anything you'd need from WholeFoods - assuming that they don't already carry it. Cheers!

                  1. Eola Hills AVA are just Northwest of Salem by a few miles, wonderful overlooked wine area. Keep on the same road and you run into the Joel Palmer House in Dayton.

                    In-laws have lived in Salem almost forever so we get there a bit. It is a weird town, not great eats.

                    1. Has anyone heard of the Greek restaurant Macedonia? It's at 189 Liberty St. NE. Any opinions?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: oregoncook

                        I haven't been there often, but when I've gone, it's great. I love their vegetarian plate for dinner - even though I'm generally oppposed to veggies! The service is great, also.

                      2. Hello and welcome to Salem!

                        We've lived here for a long time and love lots of things about it. I admit that I have the best of both worlds in that we have a small loft in The Pearl District of Portland, so I can get my Whole Foods, TJ's, fine dining etc fix easily. However, there are lots of good places to shop. LifeSource on Commercial is wonderful, Roth's for many things (altho it is expensive) and I like WinCo for staples. It is inexpensive and the produce is great! The turnover is huge and things there are very fresh. We have THE BEST fishmarket around, called Fitts Seafood on 13th Street in South Salem. The best Farmer's Market (in my opinion) is the oldest, on Rural Street in South Salem. It is open all year and features wonderful fruits and veggies!

                        Restaurants that have been mentioned are very good...La Capital, a new French Bistro is wonderful, as is the Wild Pear. Rudy's has excellent steaks, Amadeus, Da Vincis and Old Euorpe have good continental cuisine. There are some excellent ethnic restaurants in town, and as people have mentioned, the wine country is very close.

                        What brings you to Salem? Have you purchased a home yet?

                        I lived in Hingham as a kid and spent summers on the Cape in Harwichport. I'd love to meet up with you and your family to welcome you offically! Let me know when you arrive.

                        Again, WELCOME!


                        1. I agree with the Roth's, Lifesource and Fitt's suggestions...

                          As far as restaurant recommendations go I would say definitely go to Da Vinci's... http://www.davincisofsalem.com/ ...and Morton's Bistro in West Salem is also fantastic. http://www.mortonsbistronw.com/

                          For breakfast I would head to the Original Pancake House (it's a chain but still really good) or Busick Court... http://www.busickcourt.com/

                          The Soup Cellar has great soup (obviously) and even better juice, though I haven't been there since they moved... http://www.soupcellar.com/

                          Young's Teriyaki is a good place for a good teriyaki fix. (Sorry couldn't find a website


                          And the last restaurant... Kwan's for Chinese food. Definitely the best in town and the owner/chef is very nice. http://www.kwanscuisine.com/

                          Hopefully this helps a bit. Salem is a bit of a hole (I was born there, I'm allowed to say that) but it is quite charming and after doing a bit of exploring you can find some really good places to eat.

                          1. Oh, and http://www.eatsalem.com is a great local restaurant review site.

                            1. For our one night visit, my sweetie and I with another couple called Macedonia before going. They were closed due to spring break.

                              We went to Thai Beer Restaurant off Lancaster. We very much enjoyed the food and the service was really good. The two of us found their peanut sauce weak, but the rest was the best we've had in a while, living in Douglas County and visiting Lane County often.

                              1. Salem has much to offer being close to many great wineries and providing a quick drive to McMinnville, the mountains or the ocean. However, a foodie's town it is not. I lived there for several years after relocating from a similar sized town and found the food selections pitiful. Roth's is a grocery store with a simple selection. The stock does not turn over on the shelves often enough so don't be surprised to find jarred and canned foods to be spoiled. My good friends who still live in Salem tell me little has changed in the grocery stores since we left. If you want a decent selection of foods you will need to go to stores in Portland. There is no other way around it. In the mean time, immerse yourself in the wonderful things that are available around the Salem area. That is how I managed to enjoy the time that I lived there. Best of wishes to you and enjoy Oregon.... one of the most beautiful places in this country!

                                1. Are you here yet? Hope you are not sad now. Today if was a beautiful 73 and I laid out in the sun. We do have grocery stores here. I would agree with many others that Life Source is the best. It is a local coop. Roth is hit and miss, there are a bunch of them all over town. One sad thing is there is not a good cheese shop...maybe you could start one.

                                  As for restaurants I will give a second huge thumbs up for Morton's Bistro, DaVinci's, and Amadeus. Also try Word of Mouth a neighborhood Bistro. I have heard that J.James is also good. There is a new crepe place called The French Press which is fabulous for breakfast or lunch and a new wine bar that I have not tried called Papa d'Vino (I think) on S. Commercial. Things are always popping up here, and we do not have the traffic that Portland does.

                                  The wine country is breathtaking, and you can be at a fine winery within about a 5 minute drive....how can that be sad?

                                  If you could be a little adventurous there are some authentic taco stands in north salem....we like the one parked in front of the Cheetah girls lounge!!

                                  For sweets please go to Little Canoli (spell?) bakery down town, it is scrumptious. And Cascade baking company for breads. Konditorei has to die for cakes and nice lunches.

                                  I am fairly new to Salem, but if you keep a positive attitude and look, you will find. We can make Salem a great place...or we can just say it sucks and pine for Portland. Portland is awesome and just a short drive.

                                  Happy hunting.

                                  1. Hope all is well with you and that your move went smoothly! Once you're settled you might want to check out http://www.salemites.com You'll find some good resources as well as people to discuss local goings on with.