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Where to buy spices

Is there a good store in manhattan or the five boroughs where I could buy a lot of different spices? I would like to cook with more spices. I guess I want typical ones like dried oregano but also Indian and chinese spices. the number one thing is they are of good quality and not too old. The ones at my supermarket are terrible.

I know whole foods would have them but maybe there is another place that is better or cheaper?


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  1. Kalustyan's

    123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

    4 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      Agreed. Penzy's in Grand Central Market also has excellent spices, they compare very favorably (some I think are better) than at Kalustyan's. And they come in handy, convenient, glass spice jars.

      123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

      Penzeys Spices
      Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY 10017

      1. re: comiendosiempre

        I second Penzy's. Like Kalustyan's, they also have a website where you can order spices from. I think the store/counter at Grand Central Market may not carry everything listed in their catalog / on their website but most of the basic spices they have and the price is pretty good.

        1. re: comiendosiempre

          Just an FYI... Penzey's in Grand Central has closed.

          1. re: iluvcookies

            Indeed, but there is one in Carle Place for those that get out to Long Island.

      2. I recently did a fair amount of shopping at Kalustyan's and I like the place, always fun to visit. But a follow up trip to Bell Bates on Reade St convinced me that they have a pretty extensive inventory and the prices are better. I left wishing that I had started there and ended up at Kalustyan's for the asafoedita.

        Bell Bates
        97 Reade St, New York, NY 10013

        3 Replies
        1. re: Deb Van D

          Little India on 28th St. is just as good as Kalustyan's (and cheaper) for Indian spices.

          But I've found that if you need lots of different things from different cuisines, and esoteric things...Kalustyan's is a one stop shopping convenience. Also knowledgeable and helpful staff.

          123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

          Little India Store
          128 E 28th St, New York, NY 10016

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            Little India (or Patel Bros. if you're in Jackson Heighs) is a good recommendation. Kalustyan's selection is hard to beat, but I find the markup hard to swallow for a lot of the spices I can get for a better price at the Indo-Pak market. Penzey's is also a good stop.

            123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

          2. re: Deb Van D

            I'll second Bell Bates. I've been going there for 30 years.

          3. I agree with these recommendations, but to throw in one more -- the spices and tease guys show up at local markets, which might be closer to you some day of the week.... http://spicesandtease.com/ apparently they're also opening an actual store, I didn't know that.

            Spices and Tease
            2580 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

            1. I live a few blocks from Kalustyan's and walk over there all the time - for spices it's great and we buy alot of beans, coucous etc.

              My question is: when it comes to something like ground cornmeal or navy beans does it really pay to buy them at Kalustyans? Yellow split peas are twice the price as the supermarket. Is there a significant taste difference? Thanks.

              4 Replies
              1. re: dish

                I don't think it's worth it for corneal and navy beans. I generally make a trip to Jackson Heights or Flushing when I want to pick up Indian spices, dals, etc. If I want Middle Eastern stuff, I go to Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn. If I want cornmeal and navy beans, I go to the bulk bin of a health food store. But I think what's special about Kalustyan is that you can find all this stuff under one roof. When I lived in Manhattan it was a good place to stop if I really needed something and didn't have time to go to the outer boroughs. And they consistently had the best mangoes in Manhattan.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  I would agree with this. It's just a fun place to visit even if you're not planning to buy much in there - but when you need to get a lot of varied things in a hurry, it's a godsend, even if the prices are a little higher. By the way, I'm tickled to notice that since Penzey's closed down, Kalustyan's has started to carry their own versions of some of the more popular Penzey's mixes like Bavarian Seasoning and Tuscan Sunset. And whenever a spice mix like, say, ras el hanout or vadouvan starts to get some media attention (like being used repeatedly on Top Chef, for example), you can count on finding a house version on their shelves. They know their market! Long may they prosper.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    I just discovered the spice store on 1st Avenue and 6th Street. They had a very impressive array of spices: everything from allspice to xanthan gum, all at competitive prices. Does anyone have an idea of whether their products are any good?

                    1. re: JungMann

                      I live in Chinatown and find Dual Specialty Store the best and closest source for dals and whole spices. They usually have fresh kaffir lime leaves and, near the register, bhut jolokia chiles (fresh in season, dried out of season). Turnover seems robust. Also: one of the better selections of beer downtown.

                2. Manhattan Fruit Exchange in the Chelsea Market has a great variety, and great prices.

                  Also, Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg has a pretty good spice selection, and most of it is in bulk so you can purchase as little--or as much--as you want, nice if you're trying something out for the first time. Even their fresh basil, you can cut to order!

                  As for herbs like oregano, why not buy some fresh from one of the many great farmers markets in Brooklyn and Manhattan (never been to one in other boroughs but I'm sure they're great too)? You can use it fresh, and/or tie it up with a bit of string and hang it to dry. It tastes way better than anything from the store and you know exactly how fresh it is! I do that with thyme and rosemary and sage too...you can do it with almost any fresh herb.

                  This may be too much information for someone first venturing to incorporate more spices, but to get the freshest spices you have to go to different places, depending on the type of spice you are looking for. For example, most people looking for Indian spices will probably go first to Kalustyan's, which means that those spices aren't sitting forever on the shelves. Then again, perhaps this is only of concern with specialty spices, ones that people tend to use less often in general.

                  This also may be TMI, but in general, if you can buy the whole version of something like coriander or cumin seed, and are willing to grind it yourself (whether in a spice mill, found near salt and pepper grinders and usually about $12, or in mortar & pestle, or in a coffee grinder reserved for spices only (a new one costs about $15), the taste is so much better! Powdered things lose their flavor so fast and like you said...who knows how long it's been sitting there...


                  Manhattan Fruit Exchange in the Chelsea Market
                  75 Ninth Avenue New York (b/w 15 & 16), NY 10011

                  Brooklyn Kitchen
                  100 Frost Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211

                  1. As already mentioned, Manhattan Fruit Exchange in the Chelsea Market for most spices.

                    Chinatown (just about any large grocery store) for Chinese Spices.

                    Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn for Mid-Eastern spices.

                    Trader Joe's for saffron.

                    Also, to expand on what others have said, spices should be used quickly to retain freshness. But spices whole and grind them yourself as needed. Also, unless you are running a restaurant, buy the smallest quantity you can at any one time and don't overdo the variety unless you have a plan to try something new each day.