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Feb 23, 2009 01:33 PM

Your Top 5 or 10 Foodmarkets in Pittsburgh

My sister in law is new to Pittsburgh, and I am wondering if any hounds would share their favorite places to purchases organic fruits and veggies as well as hot salsa.
Do you have little ethnic grocery stores in Pittsburgh? Pan Asian ? Latino ? I just think that she is missing something, and I would be grateful for any hounds feedback. Also I am curious, and wondering has been outside her radar.
I think she has political leanings and wont go to Whole Foods. And she's a vegetarian.

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  1. I would recommend that she go to an area of the city known as the strip district. There are a lot of specialty ethnic stores, and a new organic market that is pretty large and has pretty competitive prices too. Sorry, but I can't remember the name.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Davecli

      Right By Nature. I don't buy "organic" so I don't know anything about it.

      The Strip is definitely the place to go. Aside from that there's the Japanese supermarket in Shadyside, the Korean store on Fifth Ave, and a Mexican place in Oakland.

    2. There's a Mexican store (Reyna's?) in the Strip District (corner of Penn and 21st) where salsa is sold. There's also a few Indian stores in Oakland.

      Places to go:

      Strip District (Penn Ave between 24th and 17th or so) Saturdays are the most crowded and my favorite just need to relax and have patience to deal with the crowds.
      South Craig Street in Oakland
      Atwood/Semple/Bates Streets in South Oakland

      Farmer's Market season is right around the corner, and many neighborhoods have their own on different days of the week. Mt Lebanon and the Strip are pretty good.

      There's also the East End Food Co-op:

      4 Replies
      1. re: k squared

        Definitely agree on East End Food Co-op, especially if she's not into going to Whole Foods -- she'll probably appreciate it. And I've been to Right By Nature, mentioned above, before; they do have organic produce at really good prices. It's a little out of my way given that I live close to the Co-op, but it's definitely a nice spot.

        I can't vouch for it personally, but there's a little Mexican grocery on Semple Street in South Oakland that's run by the same people who run the little Veracruz burrito joint. Also in Oakland, as noted above, is Kohli's, a nice little Indian grocery.

        And definitely yes on Strip District spots -- there's an Asian grocery the name of which escapes me right now where you can get cheap fresh tofu and the like. She should just take a walk down there when the weather gets nice and explore, there are too many places to list all at once.

        1. re: andybot

          Thanks to all the Chowhounders who replied so quickly.

            1. re: cbass

              Right, Lotus is the one. Thanks!

        2. Reyna's in the strip has great house-made tortillas, and the two salsas I've had were both quite good. The Farmers at Fireplace farm market in the Strip, run through Slow Food Pittsburgh, will start up again in the spring. Pickins are slim early in the season but are pretty expansive by the time June/July come along.

          Also, there are a number of CSAs in this area where she can get the freshest of the fresh veg. Tell her to go to, punch in her zip and she'll what's available. For vegetarians, a CSA seems like a no-brainer. If she's one of those vegetarians who also eats fish, I would highly recommend Penn Ave. Fish Company in the Strip, which has never disappointed us.

          Finally, several restaurants, including Kaya in the Strip, have weekly special vegetarian evenings, so she might want to check that out as well.

          1. All the suggestions are good. The Strip District is clearly the most central and has the biggest collection of stuff in one place along just a few blocks of Penn Ave. You do have to be able to go there either during the day, including Saturdays (with Saturday being the busiest), for everything to be open. A few things are open on Sundays but you'd be missing out on at least half of the stores on that day. In addition to the Asian stores (there are two or three there; I think Lotus is the biggest) and Reyna (Mexican) there is Middle Eastern, Greek and Italian. Pennsylvania Macaroni is the place to get cheese, assuming she is not vegan. Right By Nature, the new indie natural/organic supermarket is also in the Strip. It's over on Smallman St. Indian, to my recollection, is not represented in the strip, but there are a few small Indian markets scattered all over the area, and there are a few other small Mexican markets as well.

            Now this could all seem rather inconvenient if you don't live near the city proper. There are some other possibilities in the outlying areas, not much, but some, and if that's an issue let us know a little more precisely where she lives and we'll be able to help. It may also be worth noting that these types of stores in this area are typically not a place to get much fresh produce (someone correct me if I'm wrong; maybe I just don't look for fresh produce in there). There is a produce stand in the strip (Stan's). Lotus may have some, it's been ages since I was in there. Penn Mac has produce, but I've never found it to be particularly useful. But I know in some places the little ethnic groceries are the place where people go to get cheap produce, and I think that would be the exception here rather than the rule. We are pretty well covered for types of foods, though, I think.

            The real place to get produce is farmers markets. In season there are weekly farmers markets all over the area. Some have better selection than others. Here's a sample list from last October: The CSA idea is also a good one. The largest is Kretschmann's, and the time to sign up is now: We've been getting a small share from them for the past 2 years, and it's really great.

            3 Replies
              1. re: scharffenberger

                If you're on the east side, there's a huge Asian market at 707 Penn Avenue. I've gotten thai pumpkin, fresh basil, lemongrass and other great produce there. Also Kimlan soy sauce, spring roll wrappers and grains from all over the world. Mr. O turned me on to this place and I'm sooooooo glad he did!!

            1. For salsas she should look for 'Arturo' who sells a variety of authentic Mexican salsas. He is in the Strip district every Saturday in front of Penn Mac. (Actually the Greek store next door, but I forget the name of it). He also sells at several area farmer's markets.

              Without a doubt the best salsa to be found in Pittsburgh in my opinion.

              1 Reply