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Let's build a best-of list for grocery store products

Hello --

I would love to know what products (and brands of products) people purchase at the usual grocery stores -- Giant, Safeway, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods. I often see lists of specialty offerings available by mail order, but I'm curious about the noteworthy items people have found cruising the aisles on their regular shopping trips.

To kick things off: I recently discovered refrigerated almond milk. After doing an informal taste test, I've concluded the best is Harris Teeter's unsweetened vanilla. You can add sugar if you feel it's necessary, though I don't think it is -- it's naturally sweet. It makes a dynamite banana smoothie.


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  1. You know our Giant used to stock Uncle Brutha's hot sauce, but inexplicably quit carrying it. That stuff is delicious. Now whenever we randomly see it, we'll stock up.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mdpilam

      Uncle Brutha's is indeed quite good. he has a website and does mail order if you're really 'jonesing'

      1. re: hill food

        Uncle Brutha's is available at the Whole Foods in Old Town Alexandria. I put that stuff on everything!

        1. re: TMFOtter

          I find a depth in his 'green' that I don't in other commercial sauces. when the storefront (7th and C SE) closed, I was sad. but wholesale distribution is better handled by the pros anyway.

    2. Kerrygold Irish butter and Dubliner cheese
      Berger cookies
      Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
      Wright's applewood smoked slab bacon
      Boar's Head Kosher dill pickles

      All from Harris Teeter.

      18 Replies
      1. re: CDouglas

        For a while I was going to the Harris Teeter near me, on Kalorama in DC, specifically because they carried Berger Cookies. But they don't sell them any more there. I did ask when I first couldn't find them, but it was just somebody working that dept who said, I believe, they were told not to order them any more.

        I'd love to find them somewhere in my normal shopping circuit around here....

        1. re: mselectra

          I go to the Darnestown, MD location and while they stopped carrying them for a time this year they are definitely back now.

          1. re: CDouglas

            I have found that HT is really restricting what they have now. Every time I go now, there are at least one or two items I used to buy there that they no longer carry. And the cheese selection has really gone downhill as well.

            1. re: lalajane

              Wow, this is unfortunate as they used to be my go to for any and all things as they carried a wide variety of most products.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                i have not noticed any changes in harris teeter. product mix (say, hot sauce selection) may vary with poor sellers being dropped (or for some other reason). the product mix does also seem to be tailored to the neighborhood; for example, the harrison street store has a slightly different mix of hot sauces and mustards and pastas than the glebe road store. those stores are no more than three or four miles apart.

                store sizes vary, and the largest store(and therefore best selection in the northern virginia area is the duke street store.

                1. re: alkapal

                  For some reason, most of the grocery stores where I shop have dropped B&M Baked Beans from their shelves and replaced them with the grotesquely sweet line of Bush's beans. This makes me sad and somewhat angry, because Bush's beans suck.

                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                    the bush's vegetarian beans are nice, and not sweet like their other beans.

                    1. re: flavrmeistr

                      that's why I (an admitted control freak) go for the regular plain great northern beans over on the canned vegetable aisle (dried if I have more time) and season/bake them myself.

                      1. re: hill food

                        Me too, black beans usually. But I do like B&M beans now and again and they seem to be disappearing. Life is unfair.

                        1. re: flavrmeistr

                          "nothing ever works in this stinking world"

                          Faye Dunaway's character in 'Barfly' on trying eat stolen green corn.

                          1. re: hill food

                            "A drink for all my frieeeends...!"

                            1. re: flavrmeistr

                              (going OT) She was great, but I can think of so many people that would have been better than him.

                              but that brings up the idea of a small grocer accepting purchases on house account. does anyone do that anymore? there was one in my old 'hood on 4th SE that did for regulars, but they retired and sold to cousins, who I don't think continued the practice. the paperwork/records must have been a pain, but they had a lot of regulars on monthly income who sometimes ran out a few days before the next 'bump' I was surprised as she could be a bit abrupt, If I worked overtime and stopped off for something (and never daily) I was berated "you're late" but then once someone who was clearly a single mom and struggling was dealt with sympathy and tenderness while I did my best to ignore what was going on and 'forget' something I needed to go back and fetch. I'd like to see more of that in stores (I know, ain't gonna happen)

            2. re: mselectra

              Just inside the Beltway, just off Connecticut, is a grocery store called Chevy Chase Supermarket. They sell them - over by the deli counter. Caveat - I haven't been there in three years. But it was a regular item - they always had them.

              I would also try Rodman's.

              1. re: mselectra

                Rocklands Barbecue on Wisconsin Ave. sells Berger Cookies. So does Chevy Chase Market on Connecticut Ave in Bethesda.

                1. re: TMFOtter

                  Chevy Chase Market is SO expensive. Snider's Super Foods (three miles east) is a much better choice.

                  1. re: Mister Big

                    Snider's is a great grocery store -- worth the trip. You never know what you'll find there, at a surprisingly low price. But you always know you'll find first-rate deli (chopped liver, corned beef, roast beef, their own marble rye). They even carry halvah.

                    1. re: Deborah R.

                      They also have great rotisserie chicken.

              2. re: CDouglas

                Sounds like the perfect meal!
                We have a HT nearby in Selbyville DE...thankfully!

              3. harris teeter fried chicken
                giant deli's sesame noodles
                whole foods pizza
                safeway deli's mediterranean orzo salad; safeway store brand cheese-garlic croutons

                1 Reply
                1. re: littlew1ng

                  Costco brand (Aka: Kirkland)
                  Olive Oil
                  Hot Dogs
                  Tequila - available in CA, DE
                  Vodka- "

                2. harris teeter --

                  "brookwood farms" eastern carolina style pork bbq in a pound tub. good stuff. lean and really smoked in siler city, n.c.

                  "honeycup" mustard -- mustard with a hint of honey and a bite. not your typical honey mustard. great with ham on dinner rolls for a party!

                  "eat smart" brand asian salad kit. if you like asian slaws with sesame oil, and crunch from almonds….try this!

                  "amelia springs" *spring* water -- the best bottled water in a gallon jug. giant also has the small cans carbonated, when you want some fizz.

                  1. Hello again --

                    A few more of my faves:

                    * Smuckers line of "Low Sugars" jams. No artificial sweeteners, half the usual amount of sugar but more than sweet enough.
                    * De Cecco olive oil
                    * Silver Palate oatmeal
                    * Wegman's brand whole-wheat pita

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Deborah R.

                      Agree with Wegman's pita.

                      Also reminds me, Wegman's organic air-chilled whole chicken is great (markedly better than any other chicken I've had and that includes at restaurants). Wegman's everything bagels are good for store bought bagels.

                    2. I'm glad you started this thread...i have been meaning to ask and forgot...does anyone know a store in the DC/NOVA area where you can buy H.K Andersen "Salty Stix" pretzels?? They are just like the Mister Salty pretzels of our (some of us!) youth and i can't find them anywhere around here. Dont' really want to order from their website, as you get 12 boxes and i don't want that much. Any info on a local grocery store appreciated!

                      1. Costco rotisserie chicken and the chicken salad they make from it.

                        Wegmans has these fresh lasagna sheets. You don't have to boil, just cut to fit. I'll never go back. They also have italian classics dried pasta line in a green box...just as good as de cecco, the gourmet in the blue box? They also have their own line of marinades/dressings. I don't have any on hand so I don't have the name but it's a tangy spicy red sauce that is wonderful for grilling.

                        Whole foods pleasant morning buzz coffee and their brand organic teriyaki sauce which has wonderful ginger flavor.

                        1. Safeway's Tomato Bisque. It's really, really good. I'm talking about the refrigerated one by the deli, not anything in cans.

                          I use it when I want grilled cheese and tomato soup.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: reiflame

                            I worked for a while in the bldg. that became MTV's 'Real World' house at 20th and S NW by the now-closed? 'Pseudo Safeway' (Townhouse sub-brand) and found that one pint of those soups made a good 2 days of must-snarf-at-my-desk-as-I'm-on-deadline lunch.

                            1. re: reiflame

                              Yes!! I've thickened the bisque further and used it for a creamy, tomato-y pasta sauce. It's very, very good.

                              1. re: DGinDC

                                a caveat on the Safeway Select soups, if you're concerned about fat and salt, read the label carefully, some are through the roof. no worse than a canned alternative, but some are no better, the content does vary by flavor.

                            2. Otterbein's Cookies. Made in Baltimore, they are excellent, better than homemade. They are available at the Giants in Maryland. Not sure about Virginia.

                              1. Bonne Mamman jams and jellies - Their strawberry jam is THE BEST!!

                                Honeycup mustard - I wouldn't use any other honey mustard

                                Arnolds Potato Rolls - The best thing to use for hamburgers and BBQ sandwiches

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: The Big Crunch

                                  That's nice, but what grocery store can you buy them in? That's the point of this thread.

                                  1. re: reiflame

                                    No, the whole point of the thread was to point out "what products (and brands of products) people purchase at the usual grocery stores."

                                    I've bought Honeycup Mustard and Bonne Mammam jams and jellies at Kroger, Safeway, Publix, Lowes, Giant, Harris Teeter, and Bloom across an expanse from Pennsylvania to Florida. They may not be at EVERY location, but they are at most.

                                    Arnolds does distribution in the mid-Atlantic, where potato rolls are quite common, so I don't know if you can find them outside that region, but from Pennsylvania down to Virginia you can find them at nearly any grocery store.

                                    Whole Foods is the exception for Honeycup and Arnolds. I guess neither is organic enough for WF to stock them. However, they too carry Bonne Mamman.

                                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                                      technically Crunch is right, although naming a source for a product is helpful.

                                  2. re: The Big Crunch

                                    i second that honeycup mustard pick. i get mine at harris teeter. i like several mustards, but that one is PERFECT for little ham sandwiches on soft rolls. i made some as a potluck snack a few months ago, and everyone raved. it is a mustard with a very slight honey flavor, and with a little kick. (it is the only "honey mustard" that i've ever liked).

                                    HT also carries bonne mamman.

                                  3. Early Bird Bread at Whole Foods. We actually call it bird seed bread, but the real name is Early Bird Bread. It is a store-brand packaged bread.

                                    However, shopping at Whole Foods can be an exercise in frustration as they are often out of items - for weeks at a time. They seem to have serious problems stocking shelves.

                                    In the Whole Foods Bakery department, which is otherwise meh (looks great, tastes like nothing):

                                    Fresh (unpackaged) oatmeal raisin cookies. Incredibly good. Caveat - only the large ones. Sometimes they have small ones and they are inexplicably not nearly as good.

                                    Fresh bread: Seeduction bread/rolls. Better than any cake!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Just Visiting

                                      Yes, yes, yes to WF bakery criticism!! I wondered if I was the only person who found their bakery goods to be really quite bad, despite how gorgeous all the breads and such look. I also wondered if it was just the WF I'd been to in DC. Looks like it might not. Also agree about the oatmeal cookies. Actually, all their fresh cookies are pretty good, except for the peanut butter which is a bit meh.

                                      1. re: The Big Crunch

                                        WF used to have the best rolls with raisins and pecans …dinner rolls. i have to see if they still carry those.

                                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                                          In general I agree that WF baked goods are disappointing, but I appreciate that they're now selling tea cookies by the pound, some of which I've found to be quite tasty. It's so nice to be able to indulge in one small cookie (or two), which is not the case at most bakeries, where the single cookies are the size of your head.

                                      2. here is a thread on good grocery store "shortcut" products -- pretty widely available. it is a good thread for reference here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/566008