I love the Ralphs on 3rd & La Brea
- soniabegonia Sep 1, 2009 04:27 PM
One day several months ago, after getting thoroughly irritated with people who seem to lose their common sense as soon as they enter a Trader Joe’s parking lot, I ended up across the street at Ralphs. I haven't stepped foot inside that TJ's since. Not during the after-work rush, anyway.
This is the only supermarket that I know of that has the produce section in the middle of the store. I love that. It opens up the air space in the middle so the whole store feels more open and makes the produce section feel more integral to the layout. I find that it also helps with the shopping – it’s hard not to walk past it on your way to the checkout so I’ve often been reminded of something I forgot the first time around. I wish more supermarkets would do this. The quality and selection are good too - they have obscure items like miniature shiitakes and other things that you would only find in more “upscale” markets like Gelson’s/Bristol Farms/Whole Foods, or “ethnic” markets.
I’ve never had to wait more than a minute or two for a checker. This is in contrast to the Ralphs on Hollywood/Western where I’ve waited as long as 15 minutes, though it has felt much longer when standing amongst certain... uh, shall we say, “Hollywood” types.
They actually have a seafood counter, not just pre-wrapped seafood - but they have that too if you're in a hurry.
Parking is never a hassle and is at the same level as the store!
The people there actually talk to you and ask if you need help finding something if you’re standing around looking lost.
Compared to some other Ralphs markets I used to frequent, this one is so much better. Hollywood & Silverlake Ralphs could really use a lesson from this store.
The Ralphs most convenient to me, on North Lake at Walnut in Pasadena, got a remodeling a year or two ago and now is I think the best in town, even better than the fancy-pants one on West Colorado we refer to as "Rich Folks' Ralphs". The produce section is on the left side of the store, but it's huge and very good; it's the only one around here that stocks Belgian endive, and at a better price than TJ's. Waiting for an open register can take a while during the day when they're a bit short-staffed, but the people are for the most part helpful and friendly. My only reason to drive past this to West Colorado is if I'm looking for Choice beef - Lake Ave. sometimes has it but the supply is fitful, whereas "RFR" has it all the time; however, their produce area is tiny and crowded, and the rather nice deli area is cramped as well.
re: Will Owen
The Ralph's nearest me (Hawthorne) is pathetic - limited selection, defines 'ratty looking'; the remodeled ones in Manhattan Beach and Gardena are soccer mom pretty but emphasize more high markup convenience foods.
OTOH the Kroger owned Food4Less down the street is bigger, has almost the same selection of basic goods, produce, meat and is noticeably easier on the wallet.
To the OP, that store on LaBrea was the only super I've seen that had an comprehensive selection of LaBrea Bakery breads. No doubt since the latter is just down the street.
re: Will Owen
What makes the post a good one is that it leads us to disclosing the locations of where the Rich Folks shop. The Ralphs I like going to was originally designed as the Ralphs flag ship store. It sits much like a crown on the top of Rancho Palos Verdes on Hawthorne Blvd. Great place to get a custom built sandwich before heading down the hill to the lookout overlooking the ocean to do some whale watching. However, I was once told that Ralphs opened another super store someplace in, or near, Pacific Palisades, but I have never been to it. Anyone? Anyone?
30019 Hawthorne Blvd
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Another idea is that Super Whole Foods El Segundo
Another cheers for Ralph's here, this time on Wilshire and Hauser. Great staff, great produce and fantastic meat. They do have a beer buyer that clearly doesn't drink or like beer. But, beyond that, it's solid and they continue to improve it.
I like this Ralphs too, but I always get the sense that it's a bit of a pick up joint for all of the young industry folks who live in the area. Also agree about the frustrating parking lot at the TJ's across the street. I think part of their business plan includes having inadequate parking at every store they open.
Third and LaBrea is my market as well...and while I use it the most often and have a very good relationship with a number of the staff (some for 20 years)...I find their offerings lacking...their meat selection is extensive, but not of great quality (I go to Marcondas in the Farmers Market...better prices and better quality)...their produce is often not of great quality (the last couple of times I have asked the produce manager what was really good in fruit...his answer, not much!)...the bakery quality has declined, they used to carry local products from well known bakeries...no more! Third and LaBrea used to carry imported Prosciutto di Parma but now only Boars Head brand...the same with the cheeses, it used to be much better...and is in other locations!!
I believe there are several levels of Ralphs and Fresh Fare by Ralphs...stores in Manhattan beach and in the Marina have better quality meats and produce and even bakery items...some Ralphs (Olympic in Santa Monica and Brentwood) even have cakes by Sweet Lady Jane...not Third and LaBrea. From what I have been told, this is either the busiest or second busiest Ralphs in the company...so product turnover is maybe more important than variety !
Strange post. I've been to that Ralphs many times and as far as I'm concered it's extremely par for the course and run-of-the-mill. If anything its selection ain't that great due to it being on the smallish side, and I must not be nearly as lucky as you when checking out as I wait there just as much as at any other Ralphs (meaning: lots of waiting). The produce layout I find awkward and the quality not better than any other Ralphs.
I like Ralphs, I think it's the best grocery chain in LA, but I don't find anything special about this branch. Now, I've never been to the one on Hollywood and Western, maybe that one is just particularly bad!
I agree. While it's interesting that the produce aisle is in the middle, they were lacking a lot of things I wanted to get. Like plumcots. And sliced mango. And while I did find my beloved Cederlane stuffed grape leaves (which the Ralphs on Hollywood/Western has not stocked in quite some time), they failed to carry Cederlane couscous and veggie wraps (which Hollywood/Western have in abundance). I do like the self check-out aisle, but I found the place to be....quite geriatric. That's as diplomatic as I can be.
I've been telling my friends who frequent the trendy/expensive markets to check out Ralph's instead. Many are surprised. In my mind, it has officially made the jump from the Vons/Albertsons/Stater Bros world to the Gelsons/Whole Foods world. By the way, the service at WF is declining rapidly. Was there the other day to get one thing and I thought I was at Vons.
for me, to make the jump,
they would need to give up the Boar's Head chemical cold cuts in their deli dept.
and switch to Applegate Farms.
three quarters of the items in the place contain transfats, artificial color, artificial flavor, gmo's, nitrates, nitrites, etc. even some of their ice creams contained transfats.
the straw that broke the camel's back for me was when, once, i forgot my reading glasses and bought a jar of apricot preserves without being able to read the ingredients. when i got home the stuff was full of artificial color.
now i only buy my pharmacy stuff and detergent from ralphs.
to me, it doesn't matter if the store is beautifully stocked if the food is not real.
there is no gmo stuff at TJ's
there are no additives to the meats at WF, nor does WF sell anything containing partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, or artificial colors.
i'll happily spend the extra money.
Funny you should post this - "our" Ralph's (Overland and Jefferson in Culver City) remodeled a few months ago and we haven't been back to the Pavilions around the corner since (which beats the pants off the sorry BH Pavilions at Olympic and Beverly). Suddenly, Ralph's had actual fresh produce, better-looking fresh seafood (still way too much farmed everything) and doors that closed all the way. The staff even seemed way more on top of things, and now I often see the store manager on the floor, when I never did before. Even the bakery bread seems better, incl. lots of high-end stuff that actually tastes like bread. Sure, 90% of the store is your mass-produced Weber's bread junk, but what's important (to me at least) is that the "good stuff" can be found.
Funny how it probably doesn't take much for these markets to transform. The Ralph's on Olympic in Century City is also a good one.
[And, I love reading posts about that Trader Joe's parking lot, so keep 'em comin' - I used to live around the corner. The hovering for a pkg spot, that gantlet of panhandlers/candy-sellers tripping over the planters out front, the jabber of the models in line - love it! It also single-handedly backs up southbound traffic on La Brea several long blocks, every afternoon and all day on weekends, but all this is probably for another board.]
Ralphs at Wilshire and Hauser has an olive bar with marinated feta and stuffed grape leaves--at 3rd and La Brea, you have to order those items from the deli counter. And while the Op's shopping trips to 3rd and La Brea Ralphs are clearly timed right, don't go there on Sunday nights, or in fact for the 24-hour period preceding any Jewish holiday. We tend to go back and forth between the two Ralphs and end up finding that in general, Wilshire and Hauser is more navigable than 3rd and La Brea.
I really dislike the 3rd and LaBrea location because of their cavalier attitude about cash back on debit card purchases. I generally go at night, on my way home (my "own" Ralphs is in another location); maybe they don't refuse to give cash back in the daytime.
The layout is interesting, though, and different from any other Ralphs I've seen -- though I've only been in 5 or 10 through the years.