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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. http://www.nyc.com/restaurants/zarago...

                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.

                2. Have you been to Saxelby's in the Essex Street Market? It's my favorite place for cheese.

                  1. Here is a link to a little Thai grocery store hidden in Chinatown called Bangkok Center Grocery. I have shopped there a few times to get Thai tea leaves (for Thai Iced Tea) and some seasoning mixes. The store is not big but fairly organized and well-stocked. The folks there were pretty helpful too. One of the young man who worked there spoke pretty good English so that really helped since I am not that familiar with Thai ingredients.


                    ADD= 104 Mosco Street (between Mott and Mulberry St), New York, NY 10013

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: bearmi

                      I second this place. i particularly like their refrigerated curry pastes (in an alumnun pouch)--very fresh tasting.

                      1. re: Produce Addict

                        and the thai store is one of the few places that you can find kaffir lime leaves.
                        Venturing outside of Manhattan, check out the middle eastern with an Israeli slant grocery store called Carmel in Forest Hills/border of Rego Park on 108th Street. Lots of interesting products at great prices with high turnover in a matchbook sized store. It's in my hood and I love it - can buy spices by the ounce, dried fruits + nuts, freshly ROASTED coffee (they roast right there) olives, israeli candies galore.

                      2. re: bearmi

                        The best thing happened to us there: I wanted to get some lotus stems to make a salad we used to get at Monsoon, on the UWS. We walked in, the guy was at the counter, and I said "Do you have lotus stems"? He said: "You mean these?", pulled a jar up from under the counter, and put it in front of us. Of all the things we could have been wanting walking in there...it was like a conjuring trick. Sanuk! Great store.

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Off-topic but your post reminded me how much I miss Monsoon in UWS!

                          1. re: uwsister

                            Yes, us too. See http://www.safran88.com/ - Safran - same owners apparently but we didn't find the food to be quite as good.

                            88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Exactly. We have been to Safran a couple times too and didn't find it nearly as good as Monsoon, not to mention it's no longer walking distance AND I wasn't fond of its faux-trendy vibe. Chef Laura was nice enough to come up to say hi and comp us a dessert when we mentioned to the waiter we were big fans of Monsoon.

                              88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                      3. I haven't been yet but Edible Manhattan had a little write-up about Las Palomas, calling it the "best Mexican marketplace for miles". It's at 219 W. 100th (a block from the public library). Here's the little article: http://www.ediblemanhattan.com/novemb...

                        1. Schaller & Weber (German Grocery Store)
                          1654 2nd Avenue
                          New York, NY 10028-3197

                          This store is located in what used to be NYC's Germantown. Great sausages and preserved fruits. Pretty cheap for a specialty grocery store.

                          1. have you spent any time in Brighton Beach? It may be obvious, but many natives have not. M & I International is fabulous, but you really can't go wrong with any of the markets down there.

                            1. Trufette in the East Village (Ave B between 6th & 7th) is an interesting place to shop for mushrooms, spices, etc. There's also that new Cheese and Meat shop out on Ave C (don't recall the name)

                              This article has some other good suggestions:

                              1. Just read about this spot in Edible Manhattan; while it may be well known to others, I'd never heard of it. Looks great, though: Mitsuwa Marketplace


                                4 Replies
                                1. re: LeahBaila

                                  It's in NJ. I've been, it's great, but it's no "hidden gem." It's immense.

                                  1. re: small h

                                    Right...it sounds enormous! Just got excited about it and look forward to checking it out (since I'm the yokel-local who had never heard of it). :)


                                    1. re: LeahBaila

                                      You can easily spend a half a day there. Especially if you are like me, and get very excited when you see a food court.

                                    2. re: small h

                                      It's really well-known among Asians but like every place, some may never have heard of it. There's a shuttle between Mitsuwa and Port Authority that's super-convenient, BTW. It is very big and it's great for when H-Mart, M2M, Sunrise, etc. are just not cutting it for you anymore.

                                  2. These may not exactly be super-secret but....

                                    Despana is good and surprisingly uncrowded (Spanish food).
                                    Sahadi's is out in Brooklyn - MIddle Eastern foods.
                                    Lucy's Whey, in Chelsea Market, is new - cheese, with an American emphasis.

                                    If you like biscotti, there's a place called BisCoLatte that sells nothing but that, in midtown west - name is overly cute, but they have an interesting variety of flavors. There's also a place on the LES that sells products made with mastic - I think it's called Mastiha - anyway, they have a selection of Greek/Middle Eastern products that looked unique to me.

                                    If you're interested in South Asian/Southeast Asian Groceries, take the E/F/G out to the Elmhurst area, or go to Jackson Heights and just walk around - there are so many specialty stores to buy products in. For Indian groceries, Patel Brothers.

                                    4 Replies
                                      1. re: firni

                                        Love BiscoLatte-they have fantastic rotating flavors; they do actually have other things for sale although their main business as expected is biscotti. They also have some muffins, scones, rolls for take out, and to eat in they have other things like risotto and soups. Also has Illy coffee-is a great spot to relax with coffee and a couple of biscotti!

                                        1. re: orthorunner

                                          I know I'm a bit late to the table here, but let add Holyland Market to the list. This is an Israeli [Makolet] grocery that looks like a direct transplant from one in Tel-Aviv (sans smoking proprietor and local color) and dropped on the East Village. They have everything; from Bamba and Chickpeas to Hawaii brand soaps and shampoos. It's a pretty cool little spot.

                                          Location: 122 St. Marks Place

                                          Holyland Market
                                          122 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

                                          1. re: SrulyLaz

                                            I love the tiny market in the back of NORTHERN SPY FOOD.
                                            They have locally produced meats, milk, jams, maple syrup, honey, condiments, and chocolates/candies/caramels.
                                            It's on 12th street between A and B, closer to A, north side of street.
                                            And, while there shopping in the back, have lunch!
                                            Fantastic food. Fresh, locally grown, inventive. I live clear across town (UWS) and go to Northern Spy as often as I can.
                                            (they have a great weekend brunch too - Corn Beef Hash with a side of their skillet grilled corn bread with onion yogurt slathered on top (comes on the side) is fantastic. (they give a lot of Corn Bread, so one order for 2 to 4 people is enough)