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Feb 26, 2010 07:49 PM

Seeking hidden gem or little known food stores/specialty stores?


I'm looking to explore hidden gem or little known food or specialty stores. Maybe it's a small Mexican grocery store or a really great chocolate studio. Not restaurants or carts but places that sell retail foods items. I've grown up in NYC and really want to find food related places I've never been to! Ethnic grocers, pastry shops - give me anything you love!

Thanks guys.

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  1. It might be a bit obvious but Kalustyans is absolutley THE number one specialty food store in the city. They have tons of Indian and Middle Eastern spices but they also cover everything from Asia to Africa to the Americas and everything in between! Spice house in the EV on 1st Ave at 6th st is also a great little Indian grocery store. Tehuitzingo in HK has Mexican groceries as well as one of the best taco stands toward the back of the store.

    8 Replies
    1. re: CantStopEating

      The OP is a life long NYC resident. She's looking for places she doesn't know about...surely Kalustyan's is one of the better known shops in NYC.

      1. re: gutsofsteel

        So you're saying that we should assume she knows this and just try to avoid mentioning it? That sounds like a great idea.

        1. re: CantStopEating

          Posts like these are difficult to respond to because most of the best places, small as they may be, are well known. So it becomes a question of whether the original poster has heard of them. So hopefully some of the suggestions, while not exactly "hidden", are new to the poster.

          1. re: Pookipichu

            I agree. Whether or not an answer is obvious, I think all information should be presented for the OP to determine if it's relevant to their question. And if it's not relevant, others who read the thread might find the information helpful.


            1. re: CantStopEating

              I triple agree. I've been living in NYC for about 1 1/2 years so reading a post like this helps me out too...since nothing is obvious to me yet.

        2. re: gutsofsteel

          Speaking of Kalustyan's, along the same block are two smaller stores that are much much smaller, many of their products are priced a lot lower than Kalustyan's but the turnover is maybe not as fast.

          1. re: food_food

            I found Kalustyan's to be seriously overpriced on some items. Like 2-5 dollars higher than other stores. Really put me off.

            1. re: Up With Olives

              i completely agree - i shop kalustyans to show it off to visiting friends with an interest in food and for their harder to find items - id never get a basic staple like cumin or tumeric there unless i was already buying something else and in a rush/really needed it.

      2. Maya Schaper Cheese
        106 W 69th St
        New York, NY 10023
        (212) 873-2100

        3 Replies
        1. re: coasts

          Wasn't that the cheese and antiques place? I thought it closed. Or has it reopened/moved?

          1. re: LNG212

            yes, Maya's is cheese and antiques. the store recently relocated to their current address on Columbus.

            1. re: coasts

              Good to know, thanks. I always thought that place was really neat.

        2. Have you wandered up and down the avenues and side streets from 96th St to 125th St on the east side?

          1. Not quite a grocer, but definitley a hidden gem, how about Guss' Pickles on Orchard?
            The wife, knowing my love of the pickle, surprised me with this one on our last trip to Manhatten. Lo and behold, the gods were smiling upon me as we left Guss', turned the corner, and walked right smack into the NY Pickle Festival!

            1 Reply
            1. re: porker

              I believe Guss' moved to Brooklyn. Anyway I think The Pickle Guys is better.

              But these are hardly hidden or little known.

            2. There is a place named International Food (I think) on 9th avenue between 40th and 41st or 41st and 42nd on the west side of the street. It has greek specialties but other things as well.

              7 Replies
              1. re: momosz

                it's called "international grocery." i work in the area and visit frequently. my mother-in-law swears by zaragoza mexican deli in the east village.

                1. re: Cabrini_Qween

                  Was also going to recommend Int'l Foods, they dont have an enormous selection (at least compared to Kalustyans) but a great place to stop in and browse. If you want somewhere even more off the beaten bath/ethnic, there is a West African grocery store a few blocks south, also on 9th. There is also Tehuitzingo, on 10th b/w 47th and 48th-Mexican grocery/deli that also sells tacos and such in the back that are great bang for the buck. While not hidden per se, there is a spot at 46th and 9th that doesn't get much press that sells various microbrews and cheeses-it's associated with a wine shop and wine bar that are next door. Sorry, I don't remember the name as it is quite generic (9th Ave Beer and Cheese shop or something) They have a great selection plus you can mix and match bottles of microbrews.

                  1. re: orthorunner

                    That West African market closed at least a few months ago...

                  2. re: Cabrini_Qween

                    I like Zaragoza a lot. Great Mexican specialties, including tamales and non-HFCS Coca Cola.

                    1. re: D...DF

                      I had an excellent chile relleno from Zaragoza a while back, and yesterday I stopped in to look for grocery items. I was not impressed. I didn't see anything I can't get at Essex Market (which has a much wider selection). Other than the soda, what's the attraction?

                      1. re: small h

                        I like the friendly mom-and-pop nature and convenient location. You're right, the grocery selection is narrow, but it's good for the immediate area.

                        1. re: D...DF

                          The whole store is narrow. I had to suck in to get to the coolers. And I do like the atmosphere at Zaragoza, but Essex is much closer to my apartment. If you haven't already, cruise by there and check out the dried peppers & such (NE area of the market). Not the cheapest, but the variety rivals the late lamented Kitchen Market on 8th Ave.