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Looking for more interesting grocery stores

Does anyone have any favorite grocery-type stores (especially specialty shops like butchers or fishmongers) that they go to for interesting, non-prepared foods?

I'm always on the lookout for places to find great ingredients. I regularly shop at Whole Foods, Giant, Trader Joes, H-Mart and my local farmers' markets. However, I find that there are a lot of ingredients out there that can be tough to find and that there is a real dearth of great fish/meat counters. For instance, it's really tough to find scallops in the shell, precisely labeled cuts of beef/veal, offbeat mushrooms (I've never seen a fresh porcini anywhere in the area), Japanese mirin that wasn't mostly corn syrup, kaffir lime leaves and more.

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  1. Baltimore or Washington?

    In Baltimore the best meat counters are Eddie's of Roland Park and Cierello in Belvedere Market. You really can't get better than these two in the Baltimore area, although if you're looking for more exotic meats and cuts they may not have something immediately in stock but the butchers are usually happy to order something for you from their suppliers.

    Springfield Farms in Baltimore County has excellent farm raised chickens and eggs, as well as some meats.

    I've seen fresh porcini every now and then in Whole Foods in Baltimore. It depends on when the season is.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Roland Parker

      Fish Markets
      Franks in Jessup
      Maine Ave Wharf - DC
      Blacksalt in G-Town

      it's really tough to find scallops in the shell - this is going to be difficult to find since most are ship frozen out of the shell

    2. I'll be interested to see if any really great meat/fish counters in DC show up, because I've noticed a dearth of these as well, particularly a great meat market.

      In terms of interesting stores, there are some really neat Asian and Turkish groceries in the outer boroughs, and some smaller Ethiopian markets in Adams Morgan.

      1. There is the Eastern Market, Blacksalt Market for fish, I actually really like Wegman's fish counter I go to the Fairfax store. Organic Butcher in McLean, Lebanese Butcher in Falls Church. Let's Meat in Del Ray. Now Society Fair might have some interesting items in Alexandria. Dungarat's Market for Thai items.

        There is a small Japanese grocery store in Bethesda, but I am sure there are others.

        1. Wagshal's Market in DC's Sping Valley. Pricey but consitently good. Also in the past they have been willing to special order for specific items like live scallops or head on shrimp - dry aging specific cuts of meat to order.

          Also the Super H-Mart on Route 50-29 in Fairfax. It is an H-Mart on Steroids.

          Of course Wegmans. I pass on the Fairfax (which is closer) and head out to the Gainesville store because it triggers less shopping rage. If 66 isn't screwed up with traffic the extra 20 minutes in the car is recouped with a less frustrating shopping experience.

          But if you are in the city - I think that nothing is better that a Saturday or Sunday morning at Eastern Market.

          4 Replies
          1. re: drewpbalzac

            when the Pennsylvanians show up at the Eastern Market on the weekend they usually have all sorts of interesting mushrooms (seasonal) morels, oysters, porcini, shitake etc. - South end of the outside vendors at 7th and C, across from Marvelous Market.

            1. re: hill food

              Great tip. I did not know about this. I suspect this is seasonal - can you confirm?

              1. re: mejesster

                It would be easier to help you if you told us where you are located.

                1. re: mejesster

                  yes, what they have is seasonal but they're usually there year-round, although there was a bit of a hitch during and shortly after the reno. a large canopy right by the entrance to the basement clay studio.if you call the EMCAC http://www.easternmarket-dc.org/defau... they may be able to confirm the vendor who I want to say is Agora Farms http://www.agorafarms.com/our-histori... and get a list of current availability that way.

                  but I might be wrong.

            2. If you find youself in Vienna . . . .

              Al Nakheel Lebanese Grocery on Maple Avenue and Yas Bakery on Church Street both in Vienna, VA. Both have meat counters.

              Al Nakheel is in the same shopping strip as a Thai-Asian Food Market. I don’t remember meat or fish at Thai-Asian Food Market though.

              1. Id recommend Fresh World of Backlick in Springfield. Good combination of asian and hispanic foods including a great hispanic butcher that carries lots of central and south american favorites (7 or 8 different sausages alone). They also have a great selection of vegetables, many of which that I cant find anywhere else (and a decent price too). Lots of asian/latin sauces and spices as well.

                Theres a halal market in Falls Church that has a butcher in the back and features a lot of indian and middle eastern foods.

                In Alexandria down route 1 you have La Despenca Supermarket which looks tiny but is shockingly big if you go into the back where the butcher shop is. Meat options are hit and miss there though.

                Off Van Dorn there is a place called Fair Price International which is hidden away behind a loading dock but it has great indian/packistani/middle eastern/north african items of ALL kinds AND a butcher shop in the back. Delhi Bazaar just up the street is pretty good too and larger.

                1. Does anyone else find it odd that it's mostly middle eastern shops that have butchers?

                  I live in Montgomery County, but range all over the BW corridor, with occasional forays into NoVA for work/Wegman's.

                  Wagshal's is stellar, but it's a bit pricey and somewhat inconvenient, so I don't go often.

                  The Japanese store in Bethesda closed almost a year ago, AFAIK. I'm also aware of a Thai market in Silver Spring ("Thai Market"), but they mostly do dry/canned/preserved/frozen stuff, not much fresh. There's also a few Ethiopian markets in Silver Spring/Takoma Park, but I haven't been to those.

                  I really like Today's Catch in Columbia for fish, but it's moderately inconvenient. I've yet to find a fish market in MC that I really like. I'll have to check out Blacksalt and Maine Ave.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: mejesster

                    I don't find it odd at all that Muslims need butchers that specifically follow Hallal just as Kosher stores have butchers....though, you can buy kosher meat at most supermarkets and that isn't the case for Hallal.

                    I would at the Dutch Market in Laurel to the list - it's just plain fun.

                    1. re: Jeserf

                      not odd to me either, when it's not just a quality issue but a theological one.

                    2. re: mejesster

                      There used to be two Japanese stores in Bethesda. Daruma closed about two years ago, I think. The other one, Hinata, is still open, I think. (I have never been but understand that it's pretty small).

                      There is a Japanese grocery store in DC (Hana, at 17th and U) and in Rockville (Maruichi).