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Looking for the best Whole Foods in the Boston area

In a few weeks i'm flying into Boston from LA with my 2.5 year old. we stay the night then drive 4 hrs deep into Maine. once we get to Boston I'm renting a car and needing to fill a cooler with food for me and my child. He suffers from multiple food allergies and Whole Foods usually carries what we need.

I see that there's several Whole Foods in the area. Which would you say is the best/biggest one? Thanks!

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  1. I like the one at Fresh Pond, in Cambridge. There is a Trader Joe's across the road -- TJ's can also be good for food allergies, at a nicer price than Whole Foods. Makes it convenient if you want to hit both of them.

    I think there is also a Whole Foods in Portland, but I haven't been to it.

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    Trader Joe's
    1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

    9 Replies
    1. re: czarp

      good call on the TJ's. you see we live right down the street in pasadena from the original TJ's so its an essential part of our repertoire. do they sell booze or do i have to go to the packy or whatever they're called? i lived in boston for a while but that was 23 yrs ago so memory is fuzzy.

      1. re: trolley

        The River Street Whole Foods in Cambridge is also nice and another Trader Joes that definitely sells alcohol is just down the street on Memorial Drive. I have never been to the Fresh Pond stores so don't know how they compare but I have always been happy with the River Street location. The Whole Foods on River Street also sells beer and wine.

        1. re: mocooks

          I don't think the Fresh Pond WF or TJ's sell alcohol, but there is a liquor store (packy if you will!) right next to that Whole Foods.

          1. re: stomachofsteel

            I can confirm all three of these statements. The packy has a pretty good beer selection, and they'll let you break 6pks if you want to buy singles. I can't speak to the wine or spirits choices, but they've got a lot of floorspace, so it can't be terrible.

        2. re: trolley

          Neither TJs or Whole Foods at Fresh Pond sell booze, but there's a little liquor store across from TJ's (next to the sushi place) and a big liquor store right next to Whole Foods.

          1. re: trolley

            If you are looking to get TJ's alcohol (is two-buck chuck still around?), there are only a couple of TJ's in Mass that sell booze, and one is the store that Mocooks mentioned, on Mem Drive.

            A couple of changes since you left Mass: (1) You can now buy alcohol on Sundays, and (2) no more sales tax on it.

            Also, we still have traffic, despite the completion of the Big Dig :). Seriously though, I would avoid driving to either Cambridge store during rush hour, particularly the late afternoon/early evening commute.

            1. re: czarp

              you can buy alcohol on sundays? wow! too bad we're leaving on sunday. my sister and i used to drive to NH to buy wine on sundays. and thanks for the traffic warning. i get in on friday afternoon but will be jet lagged so we'll probably get settled at the hotel then take the road to WF after 8 or so.

              1. re: trolley

                trolley, is your hotel in Boston, or are you heading directly to Maine?

              2. re: czarp

                Two buck chuck is 3 buck chuck in TJ's, I think, and yes the classic Charles Shaw label is still around.

                I believe you can only buy alcohol on Sundays AFTER 12.

                But if you are stocking up on any spirits, I'd hit the NH Liquor stores.. I've not been wow'd by their wine, but if you need something to go with the tonic water, NH's prices are better.. and its easy off the highway..

          2. I believe the Dedham one is the largest in the Boston area and maybe even one of the largest in the region. At least it is the largest one I have seen.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Gordough

              sounds awesome but dedham is the opposite direction we're going and we're sort of squeezed for time but thanks for the input.

            2. the whole foods in portland, me is huge, if you're headed that way. it's about the same size as the one in dedham ma which I think is the biggest in the boston area. but dedham is in the wrong direction if you're driving from Logan to Maine.

              4 Replies
                1. re: nasilemak

                  Third Portland: went there once a month in the past couple of years. Very nice, very big! I loved the noodle bar. At exit 7 off 295 - quick and easy to get to, then get back heading north.

                  1. re: pastrytroll

                    Portland is pretty new and big. Minutes off 95.

                    1. re: Msample

                      another vote for Portland..also...I would offer the suggestion that if you know which specific foods you will be purchasing for your son then call the store directly to make sure they have them in stock for you. Whole Foods ...to me ..is the best..and I mean the best store to shop at in terms of food allergies. The staff, at least at my local WF is always very knowledgeable..but even so..sometimes they are out of the things I like most and I have to wait for them to come in stock...I would hate to see you get there and have this happen to you.

              1. Don't know if it's the biggest or the best as it's the only one I shop at - but there's a WF in Cambridge on River Street. It's not a long diversion from either Rt. 93 or Rt. 1. Assume you'll be taking one of those North. There's also a wonderful organic market in Central Square in Cambridge - it's called Harvest Market.

                2 Replies
                1. re: pasuga

                  The River Street one is solid, but compared to the Fresh Pond WF, the River Street location carries about 60% of the items. For special diet foods, the River St location sells far fewer items than the Fresh Pond one. For biggest and best in the immediate Boston area, I think the Fresh Pond location takes the cake.

                  What do you like about Harvest? I've always found it to be very limited selection, poor produce, really bad meat, and generally high prices. I'm all for supporting co-ops, but I think Harvest is just plain terrible. Do they have a better selection of special diet foods than WF?

                  1. re: DoubleMan

                    The bulk section at Harvest is pretty darn good, and the prices often beat prepacked items. I usually buy things like steel cut oats, French lentils, specialty flours (when I want ~1 cup instead of 5lbs), and random tiny quantities of use-once spices. I also scope out the bread aisle for day-old, marked down loaves when I'll be toasting them anyway. Otherwise, nothing too interesting.

                2. The Portland, Maine store is a good suggestion. I haven't been but my sister said it's quite large and well-stocked.

                  The Woburn, Mass. store is a good alternative. It's a few miles off of Rte. 95/128 on Rte. 3A, not a bad ride. Rte. 93 N, which you'll probably take from the airport, will take you nearby.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: bear

                    Portland. Four hours will not get you deep into Maine. That area is still called "Little Boston". The Portland store is relatively new and is the only one in the state.

                    Seven hours north of Boston Dumkeg.

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      Although River Street WF may be smaller in comparison, they sell wine/beer. Instead of driving all over tar-nation (which you will be doing), you could kill two birds with one stone.