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Jul 8, 2010 10:33 PM

Good bulk stores in SF

Where is a good, cheap place for buying bulk in SF? (For spices, beans, pasta, grains, nuts, dried fruits, and other stuff.) Someone told me about Rainbow Grocery, but I've heard that it's expensive.

Rainbow Grocery
1745 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. I think Rainbow is one of the best, and is very fairly priced.

    1. Rainbow has an incredible selection of bulk products. Not sure if they're cheaper but Other Avenues and Noriega Produce in the outer sunset have bulk options.

      Noriega Produce
      3821 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: mlutsky

        Other Avenues is great, but nothing there is cheap.

        There are disadvantages to Rainbow, but the bulk section is where they shine.

      2. If Rainbow's expensive, I'd like to know what's cheap.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Flavorless commodity groceries are cheap. The Pasta Shop and Dean & DeLucca are expensive. Rainbow, to me, is fairly priced for the quality.

        2. Big Rainbow fan here... There are plenty of expensive items at Rainbow. But their bulk goods, especially the run of the mill items, are very reasonable. And if you get your hands on one of their %20 off everything coupons and don't mind braving the crowds on coupon days, they're downright cheap. Prices on bulk spices can appear alarming, but you buy small quantities so the actual price is not a problem -- and their spices are soooo much better than packaged products.

          3 Replies
          1. re: BernalKC

            Ditto on Rainbow, prices (if you shop carefully) and quality are both really good. Selection is wide as well. Perhaps most importantly, the inventory moves quickly, so freshness is a given.

            1. re: BernalKC

              Once, when Rainbow was hella busy, I asked security guard "why" and he said it was coupon day and explained it to me. Said coupons were in back pages of Yellow Pages. The ones for this year are only for every other month. Good News: July is a coupon month and I plan to go. Their bulk stuff is best I've seen in SF. Over in pasta section (not bulk) is a specialty pasta (from Italy?) in brown bag, a twisted macaroni. About $3.49 for a small bag. I bought this same stuff in bulk from Pasta Shop in Berkeley but it cost a lot more. So, I plan to go to Rainbow this month and stock up.

              Oh yes, the discount is only Tues, Wed, Thurs and you have to bring the coupon.

              (I just wish they had better produce, more variety and cheaper prices like Monterey Mkt in North Berkeley on Hopkins.)

              Good News Cafe
              155 17th St, Oakland, CA 94612

              1. re: walker

                Yes, Rainbow carries several types of artisanal Italian dried pastas. They cost a lot of money compared to flavorless generic pasta, but they aren't "expensive" compared to other places to buy the same quality product. Note that La Rustichella pastas are carried both in bulk at Rainbow and in bags in the pasta aisle. There are more shapes in bags, but you can get the standard shapes at a slight discount in bulk.

                Similarly, Rainbow charges a lot of money for their imported raw almonds in bulk, but I'm not really sure there are any options out there if people want them. Look at the prices, and decide if the quality is worth it. Most health food shops with a bulk section are carrying the same bulk goods from the same distributor, but Rainbow's products are a big step above.

            2. Try this place online. They deliver to SF area. Asure Foods
              I order all my soft and hard wheat, corn, rice, lentils etc. Best prices around.

              1 Reply