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Big John's PFI - Seattle

c oliver Sep 3, 2012 08:52 AM


In searching I found a number of references to Big John's PFI but always in the context of other places selling certain types of food. I think this place deserves its very own shout-out!!! We were visiting in January (during your big snowstorm - haha!) and a friend asked if I saw some dried gigante beans to pick them up for her. A quick google and I found them here. What an amazing place. It's in an industrial area with no streetfront presence. You have to know it's there and it seems plenty of people do. It's plain as can be; a small warehouse type space. They specialize in Mediterranean and Italian products and it's a treasure trove. So many, many things in bulk, i.e., grains, beans, spices. And row after row of canned, jarred, dried things. Caperberries, pastas, oils, vinegars. You name it, you'll find it. Also a nice selection of frozen items; we got some Mergueza sausages and frozen salt cured anchovies. A big selection of cheese but they only sell by the pound. Or if over a certain price/lb, they'll sell by the "light pound" so a little less. On our recent visit, we definitely had this on our must-do list. I've never seen a place like this anywhere. Hopefully you'll check it out.

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  1. gingershelley RE: c oliver Sep 6, 2012 11:22 AM

    PFI is every 'in-the-know' Seattle foodie's best kept secret!

    I have been shopping there for years - and usually try to go with a friend so we can split cheeses, etc. so can buy more on a visit. You are correct on the excellent selection of bulk items, including unusual flours, bulk single-origin chocolate, other excellent baking supplies in addition to the grains, spices, herbs, beans, etc. that you mention.

    Packaged items from all around the Mediterannean basin, and a wall of jam and preserves.

    My FAVORITE store, really in all of Seattle. Glad you found it C. Oliver!

    1 Reply
    1. re: gingershelley
      c oliver RE: gingershelley Sep 6, 2012 11:59 AM

      Going with a friend is a good idea from the cheese standpoint. But going with a 'foodie' friend could get even more expensive! S/he would probably egg me on to buy more and more and more. I bought a couple of things that I don't even know what to do with but they looked interesting :) It IS an amazing place, isn't it?

    2. c oliver RE: c oliver Sep 6, 2012 01:27 PM

      Forgot to mention that they can ship me any nonperishables.

      1. j
        JayDK RE: c oliver Sep 8, 2012 01:35 PM

        Although you can spend lot's of money because everything seems to be irresistible, there are also bargains to be found. Shop on off hours to avoid the crowds. Very helpful staff.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JayDK
          c oliver RE: JayDK Sep 8, 2012 02:50 PM

          We have a routine :) Dim sum at Jade Garden no later than 930 probably always on a weekday, then a stop at Uwajimaya (bring the cooler) and then to PFI. Crowds have never been a problem. Wonderful place.

        2. f
          firecracker RE: c oliver Sep 10, 2012 02:20 PM

          Had my first shopping experience at PFI today and Wow, just Wow! I'll definitely go back. While there I talked with a woman who told me about a DK Market in Renton that features foods from many cuisines of the world. Anybody been there?

          3 Replies
          1. re: firecracker
            c oliver RE: firecracker Sep 11, 2012 07:15 AM

            It IS quite the place, isn't it?!? Yeah, let's here about the place in Renton. We ALWAYS have to make an Ikea run when in SEA so will have to check it out.

            1. re: firecracker
              gingershelley RE: firecracker Sep 11, 2012 11:38 AM

              Glad you enjoyed PFI, Firecracker! I brought a boyfriend there years ago who was an enthusiastic foodie, and I swear tears welled up in his eyes as he discovered all the goodies there.

              I have to set myself a $ limit before going, or I will break the bank - not because it is so expensive (some items are, but they have come along way and are fine ingredients), but i just want to bring home so many things! The bulk offerings, including spices, are great values.

              1. re: gingershelley
                firecracker RE: gingershelley Sep 11, 2012 12:33 PM

                I had tried to find the place other years, but was unsuccessful. Threw the addy into the GPS yesterday and it became hard not to find it! Their olive oil soap was terrific on my dry skin this morning and I loved being able to get small amounts of whole cumin and granulated garlic without having to hit Market Spice and struggling to find parking. Found some other foodstuffs (capers, tube of tomato paste, Italian tomatoes ...)

            2. c oliver RE: c oliver Sep 30, 2012 08:45 PM

              We just had a few of the Merguez sausages that we bought there. They were in the frozen section, ten to a package. I'd only had Merguez once before and I thought they were really good. These were crazy good :) My mouth is still doing a spicy, little happy dance. Check 'em out when you're there. Though frozen, I let them thaw and divided into two-person meal size and refroze. Didn't suffer from that. Mmmmm.

              2 Replies
              1. re: c oliver
                mrnelso RE: c oliver Jun 26, 2014 08:59 PM

                Those beautiful frozen Merguez are from Uli's at Pike Place Market. Here, it's grilled Merguez, TJ ww HotDog bun, and a bit of Mama Lil's Peppalilli (also at PFI). Uli's will actually grill-you-up-one right now in the Market, with peppers and onions and beer. Once a month, we re-stock with little 2-sausage packets of assorted sausages, except for Merguez it's 12 (take 12, they're small).

                1. re: mrnelso
                  c oliver RE: mrnelso Jun 26, 2014 09:02 PM

                  You make me drool :) Looking forward to our next visit.

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