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Best Food Markets in the Strip?


We've recently relocated to Pittsburgh and we love going food shopping down in the Strip. My question is really whether people have preferences for one market over another for the same stuff? Like: Wholey's vs. Benkovitz? Or which Asian market is the best? Or are they just better for different types of foods?

Also, very much looking forward to the opening of the Public Market in a few weeks!

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  1. They are all different and I guess everyone has their own preference. For example, I love Benkovitz for their quality, but for some reason I always go to Wholeys. I really love the vibe! My favorite market overall is Pennsylvania Mac. but as you might guess, I lean toward the quirky places!


    1. While you're waiting for the Public Market to open, don't forget Farmers@Firehouse on Saturday mornings. Best farmer's market in the city.

      1. I love Pittsburgh Fish Market!! Super fresh product and the fishmongers really know their stuff and offer advice on how to prepare different items. You can also eat there--sandwiches and sushi.

        1. The best Asian market is Lotus Foods which is right next to Wholey's. I love Penn Mac and Wholey's as well. They're my "go to" places in the Strip.

          1. I really like Strip District Meats, they make their own sausages and have excellent chorizo (when they decide to make it). Parma sausage is another really good place as is Penzey's spices. Penn Ave. Fish Co. has the best fish, but it's also very expensive. I usually end up buying fish at Wholey's. I always buy chips and fresh made tortillas from Reyna Foods.

            I've always found it ironic that you cannot find good produce in the Strip! The stuff I've bought from Lotus goes bad quick, Stans is a joke, everything there seems a day away from the trash. Wholeys and Penn Mac have tiny selections, and the new organic place isn't that great either.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Rick

              "Everything" at Stan's? While I'm with you on most leafy things and any tropical fruits, if you're cooking with a lot of peppers, squash, eggplants, Stan's prices are good. Have yet to find anyplace that beats Stan's for poblanos or other hot peppers. And those items are not a day from the trash.

              1. re: Panini Guy

                I quit going to Stan's years ago, i"ll take your word for it on the peppers. I've found the best produce at McGinnis Sisters. Whole Foods has really good produce too, but most of it is pricey.

                1. re: Rick

                  i stock up on stan's garlic. good price and usually in better shape than that from sam's or costco. roast a big batch in the oven or on the grill and then freeze it in bags for use as needed.

                  1. re: Rick

                    Have to say I never find much compelling at Stan's either. McGinnis Sisters is really good, though of course not within 10 miles of the Strip. ;-) The local corn they've been getting up at the north store is the best. Whole Foods, apart from a few specials, will almost always be pricey on produce, but they do get in some local stuff in season, and it is good.

                    Best is to get produce at farmers markets in-season (they are all over the city on various days of the week) and off-season, well, move to California. ;-)

                    1. re: CrazyOne

                      McGinnis Sisters has a store on Rt 51 in Brentwood. Smaller than the one in the north...but close to the city!

                      1. re: southburg

                        I'm aware of that one, but I still don't think it's within 10 miles of the Strip! Not that it wouldn't necessarily be worth going because it might be, but I said that because the questions were about the Strip.

                        EDIT: Okay, it's about 7 miles, still takes about 20 minutes. ;-) 51 always takes forever!

              2. Thanks so much for all the advice! We've definitely made to the Farmers @ Firehouse lately and have loved the produce there as well as buying a lot of the stuff from Penn Mac. I'll try the other markets mentioned here shortly. Also, is there a preferred restaurant supply store that is open to the public? I need a few utensils...

                4 Replies
                  1. re: caphill2320

                    Try Restaurant Depot. It's a pretty new place on 32nd street, under the bridge and it's huge. Glad you like the Farmers @ Firehouse...Great stuff there!


                    1. re: Burghfeeder

                      You must be a business or non profit org to shop at Restaurant Depot, unless something has changed (i.e. unlike Penn Fixture not open to the public).

                      1. re: CrazyOne

                        You are right Crazy! I of course was a little mixed up. I was thinking of Dean's Supply. It's just off of Penn at 31st or 32nd st. It's open to the public and huge!

                  2. "Wholey's vs. Benkovitz?"

                    Neither. Go to PAFC (Penn Avenue Fish Company) http://www.pennavefishcompany.com/. It's got the best fish, and it's a restaurant, too. Tuesday is "All the fish tacos you can eat for &8.99" day, Wednesday it's $15.95 (I think) for all the sushi you can eat. And they serve many kinds of fish sandwiches, not just your basic Pittsburgh fish sandwich. And their soups are among the best fish soups I've ever eaten.

                    SInce I discovered it, I haven't gone anywhere else.

                    17 Replies
                    1. re: Jay F

                      Penn Ave. definitely has great fish, but is PRICEY! Farm raised salmon at $13.99/lb is about the best deal they have, which isn't saying much. I've been buying wild steelhead salmon at Wholey's for the last two weeks for $10.99/lb, not on sale.

                      1. re: Rick

                        Maybe I need to make a trip to Wholey's. I'm planning to make salmon from the All About Braising cookbook. I need to go to Penzey's and In the Kitchen anyway.

                        I think I fell for PAFC in such a big way because I really like eating in the restaurant part. I haven't had anything I don't like; the soups are particularly wonderful, and they have two "all you can eat" days (Tuesday is fish tacos, Wednesday, sushi). It's not often I get to eat such good food at a price I consider reasonable.

                        And since I'm already there, I might as well buy dinner.

                        1. re: Jay F

                          I agree with you about PAFC, love sushi Wednesdays! I too have literally never had something bad there. Their seafood counter is definitely high quality, but is a bit pricey for normal weekday dinners for me at least. I've been buying a lot of that steelhead salmon, turbot, and trout from Wholey's lately. All around $10/lb or less.

                          1. re: Rick

                            I bought either coho or steelhead at Whole Foods last week for $9.95/lb. I didn't like it. I never like it. But I can't remember which one it is, and I've thrown out the wrapper by now.

                            Do you know which kind it is, always kind of dry, and breaking into what seem like smaller pieces than "regular" salmon?

                            I wish I'd gone into Wholey's when I was down that end last week. It is expensive at PAFC.

                            1. re: Jay F

                              You got the Coho. I don't loke Coho either, it's always seems dry even if you cook it properly and it doesn't taste that great. The steelhead has that wonderful white fat running throughout, flakes into big pieces, and tastes great.

                              1. re: Rick

                                Thanks, Rick. I don't know why I have such a problem remembering the different salmon names. I should try some steelhead next (if I can afford it).

                                1. re: Jay F

                                  Only $10,95/lb for wild steelhead at Wholey's! At least it has been that price for the past few weeks.

                                  1. re: Rick

                                    I think I'll head down there this week. I'm roasting a chicken tomorrow, so maybe Wed. Thanks, Rick.

                                    1. re: Jay F

                                      Looks like you just missed the wild steelhead salmon. They did however have farm raised steelhead for just $8.99/lb and it did look really good. I got wild caught Turbot for $8.99/lb.

                        2. re: Rick

                          I finally made it to Wholey's today, as I had to go to Penzey's. I bought some salmon and veg for lunch at the outdoor grill. I asked for "medium rare" and it was so overcooked, I can't tell if it was a good piece of fish or not. It could have been a really nice lunch, served with zucchini sliced lengthwise, red pepper strips, and brown rice, and only $7. But it was so grossly overcooked, I actually wondered halfway through if the grill guy hated me or something, and didn't want me to come back.

                          I may try it again if I'm down that end, but it's definitely not a destination for me.

                          1. re: Jay F

                            Jay, I hate to repeat hear say, I do not eat seafood. However I only hear the best reviews from that outdoor grill guy from people I consider to know about food.

                            I also would assume the consitancy from year to year , even day to day, could be up in the air , depending on who is manning the grill.

                            1. re: Augie6

                              Jay, I agree with Augie6. I've had the fish from that stand a couple of times, and it's been tremendous each time. Maybe you had a different guy... It might be worth another try. Of course, Penn Ave Fish is just down the street, and you can't go wrong with that!


                              1. re: Burghfeeder

                                That was kind of the original discussion, BF, Penn Ave. vs. Wholey's.

                                I eat at PAFC all the time. I can get a salmon salad for $8.99 and it's of a quality that's literally unsurpassable anywhere I know of, and not just for the price. It's an amazing bargain, really. Any of their salads are, really. I had the tuna last week, cooked M/R, and it was lovely and crusty on the surfaces, and jewel-red inside. Just beautiful, and just delicious.

                              2. re: Augie6

                                I think it was Luke manning the grill. He said something that rhymed with "oo" when he answered his cellphone. I guess I'll just have to take it personally then, since you and burghfeeder are both convinced it's so wonderful.

                                1. re: Jay F

                                  I dont eat seafood , so it could be horrible. I just never heard many people say it was bad, however comparing it to PAFC could be the problem. I NEVER heard a complaint about PAFC.

                                  I have a issuse with consistancy in some outdoor type stands, on or off the strip. I work towards Oakmont and thier is a BBQ in the summer near New Ken. If the father is working the food is really good, if he is not involved its a totally different meal.

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    PAFC has and prepares the best fish in the city. Try the Forbes Ave. location for dinner.

                                    1. re: six dower

                                      I went there for my birthday dinner. It was so good. I had scallops wrapped in bacon on top of lobster risotto, fish nachos, and a poached pear with ice cream. Eric the chef does as good a job with dessert as he does with seafood.

                                      There's a red snapper served with couscous dish I want to try next. I got a couple of half-price coupons on Living Social last week. I paid $25 for $50 worth of food at dinner, and $10 for $20 at lunch. I just love this place. And it's not just the food. The decor is nice, and I like the people who work there.

                          2. I moved from Pittsburgh to DC in 1985. While I can find most of the foods here that I used to get in the Strip, there isn't the sense of community that you get in the Strip. (Plus, no one down here seems to know how to make a good fish sandwich.) So I go back there (with a cooler in my trunk) every time I'm in the area.

                            The one store that I haven't found duplicated down here is the Polish market on Penn Ave. Great pickles, jarred fruits, fruit-flavored syrups, etc. And excellent Polish take-out food (which also can be eaten there.) I think it's definitely something to check out.

                            BTW I find Stamoulis Bros to be a less hassle alternative to PennMac, particularly on Saturdays when the crowds at the latter overwhelm. The cheese selection isn't as vast, but the guys behind the counter are very helpful and friendly. (Personal favorite: Bulgarian feta.)

                            I agree with other commenters here that the state of fresh produce in the Strip is sad. Surprising, given the food focus, and sad.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Gonzocook

                              Gonzocook: "I moved from Pittsburgh to DC in 1985. While I can find most of the foods here that I used to get in the Strip, there isn't the sense of community that you get in the Strip. (Plus, no one down here seems to know how to make a good fish sandwich.)"

                              I moved from DC to Pittsburgh in 1999.

                              Are you talking about the typical Pittsburgh fish sandwich--cod or similar whitefish, batter-dipped/breaded/deep-fried, often served at church suppers Fridays during Lent?

                              I don't remember much like that in DC, but have you been to Crisfield's in Silver Spring? Their menu lists one, and it's been a favorite for seafood since as long as I can remember. I always used to get crab, so I don't know about their fish sandwiches, but it's the first place I'd try.



                              1. re: Jay F

                                That's exactly what I mean. I have been to Crisfield's, but that was a long time ago, before I discovered DC's serious deficiency in the fish sandwich dept. (They use whiting here, a thin fish that can overcook in an instant.) I think I had crab, too. Good place.

                                I live in Arlington, which is quite a haul from Silver Spring, but for a chance at a fish sandwich like the VFW in Cannonsburg sells during in Lent, I'll give it a try.

                                1. re: Gonzocook

                                  I just googled "fish sandwich washington dc". There's a lot there. Whether they're any good, well...


                                  And here's Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=...

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    Thanks. I know some of those places and have tried their versions. Nothing like Pittsburgh. There's a place here in my town, Arlington, that offers a "Primanti Bros.-style sandwich." It's a fair approximation of what you'd get at the Bros. I talked to one of their chefs about extending the Pittsburgh theme to fish sandwiches and he said I wasn't the first to suggest it. So maybe there's hope. Meanwhile, maybe that place on Maine Ave. will have something decent.

                                    Appreciate your interest. Meanwhile, enjoy the Strip.