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Your favourite grocery store in GTA (chain or otherwise?)

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Curious where people do most of their shopping. I am sure some shop at SLM, Kensington, etc but in particular curious which grocery store you would go to if you had a choice and if there is one particular one in the chain that you prefer.

I really like Highland Farms but I have only been there twice. Just not close enough for regular shopping.

I prefer Longo's. There is a new one that opened up close to me and not too far from a Whole Foods. Been already twice this week and I probably won't be going to the Whole Foods much anymore.

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  1. I have not been in a major grocery store for quite some time. I find most of my day to day needs are well served at Karma Co-op (I live quite close to Karma). Sanagan's and Hooked are on my way home so I can run in as needed. I will also go to Fiesta Farms on Christy when I am looking for some specific things and for the odd big shop. Finally, Whole Foods has a couple of speciality items and out of season produce so I break down and go there on occasion.

    Why would you want to go to a chain grocery store when there are so many other options?

    34 Replies
    1. re: ComerDemonio

      I don't live in downtown Toronto. I don't have the same options as you :(

      1. re: ComerDemonio

        Sometimes it's a price/transportation issue.

        1. re: ComerDemonio

          I shop at the same places but switch up Karma for the Big Carrot as it is closer to me. If Fiesta was closer I would make the my primary big box grocery store. I tend to avoid chains whenever possible.

          1. re: ComerDemonio

            1. Price
            2. Selection
            3. Convenience
            4. Cleanliness

            Not everyone lets ideology determine where he shops. Anyone who says I never shop and can't see the many advantages of chains obviously is guided by non-food motives.

            1. re: evansl

              I beg to differ. Food is the primary reason I shop at the places I listed.

              1. If you going to compare price then you need to take quality into account.
              2. There is an awful lot of false selection at most grocery stores.
              3. Wouldn't it more convenient if everybody had the ability to pick up the things that they need without having to make a day trip of it.
              4. Are you saying that Karma, Fiesta, Sanagan's and Whole Foods are not clean. I would love to see what goes on behind the counters of the prepared food section at Longos and other large chains.

              It seems to me that your points didn't even mention the food!

              1. re: evansl

                Do you really think that any of the vendors listed are not clean as a big chain store? What about quality? Where does that factor into your decision making evansl? My decision are influenced by ideology but fully driven by finding the best quality food I can in my city - even if it means more than one shopping location.

                1. re: JennaBean

                  I've been to plenty of small stores that were filthy.

                  But I really get a laugh at the claims about quality. A recent Lancet article reported research showing that there is no difference at all between the nutritional content of organic and n organic foods. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. You don't get much more authoritative than Lancet on such issues, yet people like you continue to make ridiculous and unsupported claims about the "quality" of food.

                  1. re: evansl

                    Concerns don't have to be about nutrition. This final sentence in The Lancet article supports organic: "If one wants to buy organic, do so because it might be fresher and taste better, contains far less chemical residues, and is kinder to farm animals." That's quality to me. Not to say price doesn't factor in to my decision, but it is short-sighted to think that "quality" of food equates to nutrients only. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lan...

                    1. re: evansl

                      She said "quality", which can include a number of factors, but nutritional content would probably be pretty low on anyone's list, not to mention its impossible to determine with the naked eye in the first place. To equate "quality" exclusively with nutritional content is an absurd premise.

                  2. re: evansl

                    Might be crass to say I outgrew moral calculations guiding my every purchase but practicality has a way of influencing priorities and "Best" accordingly takes on different meanings. I'm miles away from boutique food shopping downtown and don't suffer for it--morally, economically or nutritionally. Maybe we all need to lose a little smugness/dismissiveness about where our food $$$ go and get back to enjoyment?

                    1. re: Kagemusha

                      You can be crass and I can fully disagree. I think we need more people who care about their food products and have the ability to use their shopping dollars to influence make choices that support these change for the better of all of our food. If we all just said, don't worry about it, do you think that the local movement would have become what it is today? You have a voice one purchase at a time. It is what you chose to do with it that matters most to me.

                      I'm stepping off my soapbox now. :-)

                      1. re: JennaBean

                        "I'm stepping off my soapbox now. :-)"

                        That's a relief. I'd advise a look at David H. Freedman's article "How Junk Food Can End Obesity" in The Atlantic as a critique of Pollanesque fantasies.

                        1. re: Kagemusha

                          I've read it and it is a whole other discussion that IMO is not related to this discussion. But as I said, I will get off my soapbox now and continue to make educated choices that I believe in.

                    2. re: evansl

                      Some years ago I worked in several supermarkets large and small. Any notions that things are "clean" behind the door to the back or in the basement would be destroyed by a visit in about 3 seconds and the destruction would carry on for as long as the visit continued. Cleanliness "on the floor" should be expected--which is why I doubt I would buy fruit or veggies at No Frills amongst other places.

                      1. re: Herne

                        Don't knock No Frills too badly. I'm in BWV/Junction and two out of 3 of the closest No Frills seem clean and well staffed - especially the one located at Eglinton and Black Creek - huge store and, let's face it, the same PC Trucks etc that bring food to the Loblaws deliver to the No Frills.

                        1. re: kbdid

                          Well visit the No Frills at Pape and Gerard some Saturday afternoon and look at the floor in the veggie section.

                          1. re: Herne

                            Don't know about Pape and Gerrard NoFrills, but Peter's NoFrills on Lansdowne has more floor-cleaning staff than I've ever seen in any supermarket, up- or down-market. They are obsessive about the produce section especially.

                            I guess I only noticed this because (a) I don't see a lot of cleaners in other stores, and (b) I worked in supermarkets summers and weekends in school, and, agreed, "behind the door to the back" is never a Temple of Hygiene. In fact, it was years before that pervasive "grocery store smell" worked its way out of my nostrils.

                            1. re: pearl3

                              LOL I had forgotten the smell. I think it is a combination of garbage and the glue on wet cardboard boxes. I recall working in one supermarket near Dufferin and Eglinton in Toronto about 4 decades ago. I walked into the back room and a butcher put a side of beef from a delivery truck onto a wooden truck that had been brought up to load garbage from the basement into a truck. Very instructive.

                              1. re: Herne

                                Remember the sights and smells of Kensington Market when they sold live poultry and far more fish, especially in the summer months? Sides of beef lovingly delivered(and sometimes dropped or dragged) from the backs of unfridged vans to the meat shops? Seems like yesterday...

                                1. re: Kagemusha

                                  I remember ducks and pigeons in cages. And I recall a goat streaking down Nassau with a couple of guys chasing him. Can't see stuff like that anymore.

                                  1. re: Herne

                                    Remember when there was a chicken processing place across the street from the City/Muchmusic building on Queen Street? You could smell it from quite a distance away. I think it's an indoor food court now.

                                  2. re: Kagemusha

                                    Kensington had varying degrees of ripeness, as I recall. I remember the chickens for sure--and people whose parents and grandparents would never buy one unless it was live. Fish and cheese--oh lord, a couple of those cheese stores could put you off dairy if you were rash enough to go in, even in lukewarm weather.

                                    But...food tends to smell in bulk. Good food is organic material and it doesn't come deodorized (unless it's frozen), and I feel kind of out of character griping about relatively normal food-smells. Perhaps atavistically, I tend to trust places with a mild undertone (undersmell?) of the presence of food, rather than ventilation-outflow.

                                    1. re: pearl3

                                      Global Cheese was a malodorous pit that clipped me a few times in my broke-ass grad student days. Oddly, the old Royce Dupont plant on Spadina never really stunk despite the huge piles of crated chickens waiting to fulfill their biological destiny.

                                      Take your meaning about about smells validating a place. Kind of like a garage that doesn't have a bit of a petroleum aroma.

                                      1. re: Kagemusha

                                        Yup--Global was the Malboges of bovine destiny. Retching was the only option on most days--I also realized fairly quickly that prices weren't always what the hustle tried to convince you of.

                                        Royce DuPont--thanks--I could see the building in my head but the name wasn't forthcoming. You're so right there--it rescued me from what I called the "Band-Aid Dominion" at Bloor and Walmer--got chicken with complimentary bandaid there once...

                                        Oddly, speaking of the remembered and the somewhat smelly, the herring barrels at Xmas on pre-trendy Roncesvalles always fugure prominently in the daughter's memory of what's actually good vs. what's trendy...

                                        1. re: pearl3

                                          Got some "aged Havarti" once from Global that deserved a biohazard sticker. Right, the old very-Polish Roncy was nice. Liked the original Granowska's bakery with her daughter's dentist's office upstairs. Recall buying an Xmas tree with the future frau down there which we lugged home on the streetcar and subway--much to the amusement of passengers and TTC guys.

                                    2. re: Kagemusha

                                      I don't really miss those days. I remember going down there with my mom on a Saturday or even on a weekday after her work and I certainly don't miss those smells, especially in the ripe season of summer. I use to work, as a teenager, in a warehouse on Spadina and Camden and sometimes I had to help my boss make deliveries down there. That smell just sticks in your memory.

                                      As for cheese, my fondest cheese smell memory is from Pape Station back in the 70's and 80's when there was a cheese shop right beside it. My first image from that smell was smelly feet.

                                      1. re: scarberian

                                        There were also great-smelling food places, though. Eaton's (of sacred memory) had an amazing "groceteria," I think they called it, on the fifth floor of the main Yonge and Queen store. This I remember because my father worked for Eaton's and a lot of our groceries got delivered in wood crates--now incredibly overpriced at flea markets--on Saturdays.

                                        The fifth floor, as we referred to it, smelled great to me as a small child. Even the fish department smelled fine, and the baking, sweet and savory, was heaven to the nose. Pie dough, biscuits, and bread baking...

                                        Toronto, of course, gradually flushed this institution, relegating a shadow of it to the basement of Eb Zeidler's godawful Eaton Centre, then just let it go. Oddly, the main Ste-Catherine Street stores in Montreal kept this sort of thing going much longer.

                                        1. re: pearl3

                                          I fondly remember going to the basement floor of Simpsons with my mom and she would buy my brother and I, hot dogs and an orange drink that was served in a paper cone inserted into a metal stand. We'd eat while she would look in the bargain bins.

                                          1. re: scarberian

                                            I fear getting moved to a different thread here--something like "Toronto Food Nostalgia" -- maybe that should happen.

                                            If some major person in your family worked for one of the two, Eaton's or Simpsons, you probably didn't go into the opposition''s store. Nothing epic--you just didn't, so until I was a teenager, I never got off the subway in Simpsons basement. I used to envy people who got the hot dogs, tiny toms, and orange drinks...

                                2. re: Herne

                                  I like the No Frills at Wilson and Bathurst.

                                  Some No Frills locations manage to source better produce (although sometimes smaller-sized produce, but in better overall condition), with better turnover, than nearby Loblaws locations. The No Frills at Fanshawe Park Rd and Wonderland Rd North in London, ON has better produce and a better selection of fresh herbs and imported 'exotic' produce than the Loblaws at Fanshawe Park Rd and Richmond St N a few km further east.

                                  1. re: prima

                                    +1 No Frills @ Wilson and Bathurst

                                    1. re: kwass


                                      Much better than the Avenue Rd one, which is a nightmare.

                                    2. re: prima

                                      I like the No Frills at Pharmacy & Eglinton.....it's clean, has a decent produce section and, rare for a No Frills, a fresh fish counter and butcher.

                                      1. re: katdog

                                        I've found it well nigh impossible to buy Ontario at that NF. It's one of the reasons I switched supermarkets.

                          2. I really enjoy Highland Farms too, but alas, it's a bit far away. Fiesta Farms is my local favourite.

                            1. Out in the wilds of Misissauga, things have improved markedly in the past 2-3 years. Highland Farms is great for produce but it's the range of ethnic grocers that's taken off: T&T, Starsky, Marche Adonis are all killer. P.A.T for Korean and dozens of small food stores for S. Asian.I find that Longo's has faded(high prices and declining quality) and Loblaws has totally collapsed with its stores and the Superstores plainly struggling against Walmart and Costco. Ubiquitous NoFrills are great for staples and occasional specials. Seasonal produce is close by and usually better farmgate than what's on offer at the largely bogus farmers' markets scattered around Peel and Halton. All this depends on a car, sadly, but what doesn't out here?

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: Kagemusha

                                Seconded about the great variety of ethnic supermarkets in Mississauga. On the middle eastern front, Arz is opening a Mississauga location very soon. I'm pretty excited about that one.

                                1. re: Michael N

                                  Keep hearing that. Any clues about when and where?

                                  1. re: Kagemusha

                                    Yeah, it's in the plaza on Silver Creek Blvd right near the corner of Dundas and Cawthra. As for when -- soon, I hope. I had actually heard a rumour from a friend of a friend that it was open last week, but when I went to check it out it still had paper up. Looks like it should be open in the next couple of weeks though.

                                    1. re: Michael N

                                      Thanks! Somewhat odd location but there just aren't that many vacant grocery store properties around Miss. Think it was a Vietnamese food store(?). Will look next time I'm rolling west along Dundas from Starsky and Brandt on the way to P.A.T.

                                      1. re: Kagemusha

                                        FYI the completion of this location is apparently much further away than I initially thought. I know someone who drove up to the place and peeked through the window, and apparently it's still empty with broken tiles on the ground. So probably more like a couple of months than a couple of weeks.

                                        1. re: Michael N

                                          Thanks for taking the time to update the Arz sub-thread. I watched Marche Adonis crawl along early this year, then "bang" it was done in a few weeks. Could be $, contractors, store fixtures, inspections/permits, zoning--lots to line up, probably.

                                2. re: Kagemusha

                                  Even as a west-end [inside the city] person, I tend to get into the car, first for the Jutland/Kipling stores, and every so often treat myself to Starsky, Brandt, Marche Adonis, and other Mississauga venues.

                                  In my own zone, it's Peter's NoFrills on Lansdowne only for basics and deals. Otherwise, no going east or downtown--I can find the same items out west--at better prices with less hype.

                                  1. re: Kagemusha

                                    It would be so great to have a Starsky in the east end. There's plenty of Asian and middle eastern but not so much European.

                                    1. re: neighborguy

                                      I would love it if Starsky opened up in the east. Right now it takes me 2 hours to drive in on special occasions. I'm dreaming of the day.

                                      1. re: earthygoat

                                        i'm probably less than 10 mins from starsky and am embarrassed to admit that i've never been. you've inspired me to make a trip. what do you buy there?

                                        1. re: lilaki

                                          It is one of the few stores where I slowly go up and down each and every aisle, even when I only stopped in for a few things !

                                          It is a European product dream store, excellent butcher shop, and sausage emporium to name a few...

                                          1. re: lilaki

                                            I try to stock up on things I loved back when I was a little girl in Poland. Paczki donuts (rose hip jam), sausages of every kind, frozen pierogi, spicy ketchup, cheeses, preserves. Often, they'll have a sale on Liberte Mediterrane yogurt. If I lived nearby, I'd be there daily! My husband says I follow the Polish health food diet (dough, lard, sausages, pickles...)

                                    2. For me, it's Pusateri's...hands down!!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: kwass

                                        For everything canned or bottled its Costco for me. For fruits and Veggies it's Highland Farms or Longos. The problem I have with Longos is they have parking spaces fit for Mini's and Smart cars at the Laird and Leslie street stores. For Asian items its T&T by the lake.

                                        1. re: kwass

                                          I forgot to mention Whole Foods.

                                          1. re: kwass

                                            Pusateri's is a paradox It is ridiculously expensive for most things. And I mean the exactly same stuff you can buy elsewhere, canned goods, cakes and bakery items, bread, veg, etc. Their cooked food is obscenely priced. And yet they also have a small subset of items that are quite reasonable and very good. It's an excellent place for cheese and meat, in particular. Their tenderloin, for example, costs less than Loblaws and is better than Cumbrae.

                                          2. I'm a Summerhill Market girl myself.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: millygirl

                                              I don't know why, but Summerhill Market just doesn't excite me.

                                              1. re: kwass

                                                Funny because I can't stand Pusateri's, esp, (with all due respect) the customers. Many are so obnoxious.

                                                I find SH M has everything I need and much more and the prepared foods overall to be better than Pusateri's, But that's just me.

                                                Also you can't beat their customer service. There's a reason why they've won best independent store award for a number of years.

                                                1. re: millygirl

                                                  I agree with you about the customers @ Pusateri's...totally privileged and obnoxious, but I'm not there to socialize :)

                                                  Based on your recommendation, maybe I'll give SHM another try. I've only been there a couple times, so I'm not an expert on SHM, but it seemed to me that most of their prepared foods were pre-packaged, and that's what I didn't like. Is that the case, or am I mistaken? One of the things I love most about Pusateri's is their hot counter, and it didn't seem like SHM had anything comparable. That being said, I have had the chicken fingers from SHM (I know...chicken fingers), and I do have to say that they were the best chicken fingers I've ever had.

                                                  1. re: millygirl

                                                    P.S. I was also a little disappointed with the selection of baked goods @ SHM.

                                                    1. re: kwass

                                                      Agreed.....love the chicken fingers.

                                                      True, they don't have a hot counter per se but they sell pretty much the same as Pusateri's, it's just not hot. They have all the veggies, ribs, chicken parm, etc. In fact the chicken parmesan is fantastic. Their ribs are wonderful. Chilli, soups, great salads, poached salmon,

                                                      I also love their baked goods - wonderful loaves, muffins, danish, cookies. Honestly everything is very very good.

                                                      You should give it another go kwass and let me know.

                                                        1. re: kwass

                                                          Just as an aside, I've been into the kitchen upstairs at Summerhill Market when I used to sell kitchen equipment. It was very very clean, and they had really great quality ovens. It's beautiful up there.

                                                2. re: millygirl

                                                  +1 for Summerhill. Love almost everything, but I do stay away from the $15 1L bottle of craft soda water. I almost died when I saw that.

                                                  For "ethnic" stores I love Starsky's. Def worth the trip to the west end.

                                                3. Cheese Boutique/Cumbrae's/Healthy Butcher for me. There's another Pusateri's (no association) a few stores from Cumbrae's that always has great produce.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                    The Cheese Boutique is evil (in the very best of ways). Luckily it is a little out of the way for me.

                                                    I switched from the Healthy Butcher's Queen Street location to Sanagans as soon as Sanagans opened. Better selection, labelling, and price (although I haven't compared recently).

                                                    1. re: ComerDemonio

                                                      Agree re: CB, disagree re:Sanagans. I bought 4 steaks (two at a time, different times) from Sanagans, one pair a premium aged. They were virtually inedible (although I'm very particular about my steak) - so I went back to going to Cumbrae's, with HB as my backup.

                                                      1. re: justxpete

                                                        Interestingly enough I've never been to Cumbrae's although I've been to restaurants that serve their meat. I will have to make a trip to taste test for myself.

                                                        I was a regular at HB and loved most everything I bought. I have had nothing but excellent meat from Sanagans so I'm surprised that you found the steaks you bought to be inedible. What did you find wrong with them?

                                                        1. re: ComerDemonio

                                                          I'd rather not go in to detail. Suffice to say that they were just not very good, nor did they cook well. I tried twice and gave up. Great roast chicken though.

                                                          1. re: ComerDemonio

                                                            Ps, since getting a big green egg, my favourite ribs to smoke are from Healthy Butcher, by a wide margin.

                                                    2. -Nortown
                                                      -Kitchen Table (sale items are great deals and they carry some good products)
                                                      -Dave Young
                                                      -Yonge-York Mills Loblaw
                                                      -Shoppers Drug Mart (Eglinton/Latimer location only. They carry some amazing groceries that other SDMs never would)
                                                      -Green Valley Products on Yonge near Eglinton for hella good and cheap fruit/veggies
                                                      -Almost Perfect has some good finds!

                                                      5 Replies
                                                        1. re: magic

                                                          Holy Smoke. Ia this the same -Dave Young that was or is on Eglinton ?

                                                          1. re: magic

                                                            Not always the case but be sure to check the "best before" date on sale items at Kitchen Table. I've encountered products pass their prime many times.


                                                            1. re: wontonfm

                                                              Best before dates don't phase me much. But sure, I'm always mindful.

                                                              I go almost daily and I don't recall ever seeing something on a shelf that was past its sell-by date.

                                                              Many of their specials though are well before "sell by" dates and seem more about moving extra stock than about moving items that are expiring.

                                                          2. My favourites are Longo's on Leslie at York Mills and Lady York. I like the lamb at Cumbrae's, but haven't bought much else.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: prima

                                                              Can I ask what's good at Lady York; it's not too far from me and I've been curious about it.

                                                              1. re: kbdid

                                                                I like the Italian import aisle (for pasta sauces, condiments, Italian 00 flour for pizza dough, pastas), the produce, and the garden centre that's open in the spring.

                                                                I also like the Grande Cheese on Orfus Rd (also mentioned by pearlD below).

                                                              2. re: prima

                                                                Longos is OK, but I avoid the Leslie/Don Mills location. Getting in and out that parking lot with those tiny spots is just too much trouble

                                                                1. re: evansl

                                                                  I agree that the parking lot at Leslie and York Mills is terrible. I usually shop after the dinner rush, when the lot is half-empty.

                                                                  I haven't been too impressed by the mini-Longo's on Dundas near the AGO or near Yonge & Bloor. I'm glad they're they exist close to the subway stations, and they might be marginally better than the Valumarts/Mr.Grocers, but I still rather shop at the full-size Longo's north of Bloor.

                                                              3. Interestingly enough...there seems to be no love for Loblaws, I confess to still using my local (Dupont & Christie)as a my 'primary', but have augmented it with Sobey's (Dupont) and Fiesta Farms and even use the dreaded Metro at Bloor & Walmer. I am in the north end of the Annex....these stores are very convenient for me BUT changes are afoot once again...Loblaws is about to do yet another 'rebranding' (one longtime(Dupont) employee has just told me this).Not sure if this means just the Dupont branch or going to be chainwide...Will post if I hear more......also use Nortown and both Grande Cheese(Orfus Rd.) & Mendel's(Kensington)...

                                                                17 Replies
                                                                1. re: pearlD

                                                                  I actually am a big fan of Loblaws. I also really like Fortino's.

                                                                  1. re: kwass

                                                                    For where I am in the city, Woodbine & Danforth, Loblaws is my go to store. I work near Galleria, so make frequent trips there, too.

                                                                  2. re: pearlD

                                                                    Loblaws seems to be fighting for its life in the hyper-competitive/price match-crazed western 905. Disgruntled employees aren't an inconsiderable part of their problems. Still, they're getting massacred on price/quality by Walmart on one side and Costco on the other. There's also NoFrills selling identical merch for less--often a great deal less. The huge Superstore subspecies looks endangered, especially with Walmart and Target(another story) nearby. They've made some bizarre marketing missteps--the Black Label line chief among them. Ho-hum meats, malodorous fish counters, and scruffy produce all point to clueless management. I see suits from the minutes-away big Loblaw HQ scuttling through the echoing Heartland store who just don't seem to get it. Nothing changes. Probably the busiest part of the store is the take-out food counter that's swamped at lunch and at drive-home time. They'd do better to expand it into a food court that would absorb the many dead zones in this prime location store.

                                                                    1. re: Kagemusha

                                                                      Loblaws seem to be focusing on clothes and housewares more than food these days. Their low-price locations like Real Canadian Superstore are literally 20-30% cheaper on many items. There's 2 Loblaws within walking distance of me, but I rarely go these days. If I do, it's usually for sales.

                                                                      1. re: hal2010

                                                                        It seems they are leaving the food part to No Frills. We used to be regulars at Loblaws, but then they converted all their neighbourhood Loblaws to No Frills and focused their efforts on the massive Loblaw store. We now frequent Highland Farms as we have one right on the corner from us. It's small and doesnt carry the same amount of variety as the larger Highlands but my wife and I love the quality of their produce and meats.

                                                                    2. re: pearlD

                                                                      thats my local loblaws too! but i shop mostly at fiesta farms and PAT , believe it or not the prices are lower at FF

                                                                      1. re: pearlD

                                                                        I shop most frequently at my local Loblaws, which I prefer to my local Metros. While I prefer Longo's produce, I only visit a few times a year.
                                                                        For Mediterranean groceries, I like Serano on Pape, and Ararat on Avenue Rd.

                                                                        1. re: pearlD

                                                                          'rebranding' at the (Dupont) Loblaws is underway...no name change but taking out the so-called Jewish section (??) and converting to 'Portugese'....will I make the change to the Forest Hill (St. Clair) branch...not likely..it's a very minimal part of my regular shopping except near the Jewish holidays when I do need some stuff, but I'll go out of my way and go 'up north' before I'll switch to FH....way too big, too impersonal and I simply don't like shopping there...

                                                                          1. re: pearlD

                                                                            Loblaws has removed the Jewish food sections at some of their other stores too. It looks like they have made a decision concerning which customers they care about and which they don't.

                                                                            1. re: evansl

                                                                              Thats a little hyperbolic. They're really just adjusting to the hood. The forest hill store still has its Kosher section as the bayview village one

                                                                              1. re: meatnveg

                                                                                It makes sense that any particular loblaws (or any store for that matter) would cater to its own demographics based on demand.

                                                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                                                  meatnveg & justxpete......
                                                                                  Absolutely correct.....The demographics of the neighbourhood are what the changes are about...the same as in other areas of any retail business ....with all the ways management can track their 'particular clientele' it's not difficult to switch goods from 'store to store as the need warrants or the demand exists. It's all about where the store will make money and carrying specific items as their particular shoppers desire can mean the difference between profit/loss.

                                                                                  1. re: pearlD

                                                                                    I agree. Stores cater to their demographics. If you take Costco for example, the Costco in Woodbridge has a lot of items that cater to their Italian clientele, while the Yorkdale store has a large selection of Kosher items, and the Markham store has a lot of Asian items. While my comments may seem stereotypical, they're not. I'm simply reporting on what the stores are doing and how they cater to their specific demographic. It's just what grocery stores do.

                                                                                    1. re: kwass

                                                                                      Not stereotypical at all.....it is what it is.....Retail Business, no matter what kind, survives and flourishes where a demand is identified and then fulfilled.....

                                                                            2. re: pearlD

                                                                              How could there be any love for Loblaws? The store is not particularly cheap. It is half their own house brands. (Well, that wasn't so ad when Dave was running the show). They sell stuff that should have been tossed out due to age. They expect you to do their work for them (check out, slice bread). There isn't one reason to go there rather than another store except propinquinty.

                                                                              1. re: evansl

                                                                                Try Loblaws at Queen and Portland if you care to shop at a Loblaws that is nothing like what you describe.

                                                                            3. +1 for longos!!

                                                                              i drive past a loblaws, no frills, and galati on my way to longos. definitely worth the drive for a much more pleasant shopping experience!

                                                                              1. I can do a loop that takes me past most of the major grocery stores I like. Real Canadian Superstore for staples, canned goods and some PC products, Sobeys for meat and fish and Longos for some produce. Every few weeks I go to Iqbal or Sunny Foodmart for Asian ingredients and produce.

                                                                                1. I'm loving a lot of the Mississauga grocery stores these days.

                                                                                  I like Michael-Angelo's for fruit and vegetables. Costco (south Mississauga) for milk, cheese, fruits, and meat. T&T for seafood and Asian veg and fruits. Adonis for seafood, yogurt, and baked goods. And the occasional RCSS for PC Black Label items or staples not at Costco.

                                                                                  I'm not a fan of Freshco generally but the Alphonso mango was great there this year. Plus they have some great selection on really well priced quality dates and dried figs from the Middle East.

                                                                                  I used to like Longis but the one near me is horrible.

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Nevy

                                                                                    I have been in one Freshco once. My impression was that it was about on the level of Metro cleanliness and neatnesswise. But much cheaper. I didn't have time to check prices carefully but my impression was that they were cheaper than No Frills.
                                                                                    Poor old Rube at SLM died recently and I will miss the short conversations that I had with him every 3-6 months.

                                                                                    1. re: Nevy

                                                                                      Freshco is just Price Chopper cleaned up a bit and rebranded. Like Food Basics, they advertise as a discount grocer but usually I find that No Frills beats them on most counts. That said, picked up some good t-bones there today (rare to see them there, especially on sale).

                                                                                      1. re: kbdid

                                                                                        I've only been in a couple of Freshco stores, but for some reason, I find them creepy and non-food-atmospheric. Maybe it's just the two I've been in, or maybe it's the chartreuse-and-black colour scheme and bad use of bare-bones style, I don't know.

                                                                                        I only go in one if there's something I really need, and it's super-cheap, on the front page of their flyer.

                                                                                        1. re: kbdid

                                                                                          I think it depends on the Freshco location.

                                                                                          A new Freshco opened in London, ON last month, taking over an old Metro location. Competition will be tough, since the Freshco is located within 2 km of a No Frills, a Costco, and Food Island, a Chinese supermarket which took over the old Price Chopper/Food City location.
                                                                                          Jayt90, if you shop at the Wonderland Rd N Costco, this new Freshco location is a few blocks North, in Sherwood Forest Mall. The produce is expensive and mediocre quality (produce is better and cheaper at No Frills at Wonderland Rd N and Fanshawe Park Rd, Remark at Oxford St W and Hyde Park Rd and the Covent Garden Market downtown), the deli's bbq chickens are cheap (I haven't tried the chicken), the packaged processed foods are cheap, and the imported food aisles are surprisingly well stocked with European, Asian, Middle Eastern and West Indian imports. The dairy prices are more reasonable than they had been under Metro ( a litre of milk is now $2.28, whereas it was always at least $3.29/l at this Metro location). I was really impressed by the selection imports: German canned sardines, jars of several brands of German red cabbage, upscale British cereal (Dorset), Polish blackcurrant juice, some Dutch products,Croatian, Bulgarian and Macedonian ajvar,pomegranate molasses,rose water, German baking powder, high quality Italian pastas, etc. Best selection of Central Euro and Italian imports I've seen at a regular grocery store in London, let alone at a discount grocery store. I thought the store was going to go downhill when Metro moved out, but I'm pleasantly surprised by the improvement with regards to good quality imports from Europe.

                                                                                          1. re: prima

                                                                                            I wanted to correct what I wrote above. The store that took over the Metro at Sherwood Forest Mall in London, with the good selection of imports, is a Food Basics, not a Freshco. The new Freshco in London is located on Wonderland Road South, between Viscount ant Southdale Road, on the site of the old White Rose nursery. I haven't visited to the new Freshco on Wonderland Road South.

                                                                                        2. re: Nevy

                                                                                          Nevy, what seafood is really good at Adonis?

                                                                                          My MIL went for the first time this past weekend and were very impressed by it! We ended up buying $100 of groceries and would have bought more if we had more time. :) We didn't get any seafood but plan to next time.

                                                                                          The marinated chicken skewers looked really good so we picked up 3 shish taouk ones. The guy working there said there were marinated in 75% cream and garlic. After we bbq'd them, they were delicious!

                                                                                        3. Without a doubt, Highland Farms. Excellent value for the money, quality on a par with and occasionally better than the boutique food shops. I can shop for everything under one roof except the fine wine such good food deserves to be served with.

                                                                                          I have only 2 reasons to make the trek to SLM these days. Everyday Gourmet for my absolute fave coffee beans. Not that the coffee at HF isn't good. Just not THAT good. Rube's Rice for the superlative aged basmati. HF doesn't have a basmati I'd take home with me.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Googs

                                                                                            Agree completely. I like the produce and meat best at Highland Farms. I also go to Fortinos as it is the closest to my office so it's easy to shop there at lunch or after work for PC products and produce mostly. For specialty items such as cheese, I make my purchases at Quality Cheese in Woodbridge, or the Brickworks Farmer's Market.
                                                                                            Any other meat purchases are usually made at Eddystone Meats.

                                                                                            1. re: icey

                                                                                              Agree on that too. The selection at the HF cheese counter is pretty weak when compared to the rest of the store. I mean, how much havarti can one store sell anyway? The cream cheese is pretty darn good though.

                                                                                          2. t&t
                                                                                            lucky moose
                                                                                            no frills - landsdowne is ok, blackcreek is better

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                                                                              Lucky Moose? Is that like Giant Tiger? <g>

                                                                                              Funny, I've never enjoyed the Black Creek NoFrills--and, especially in winter, when his produce [dark greens, especially] is welcome--I've almost never been let down by Peter's on Lansdowne. Just preference, I guess.

                                                                                            2. I am way southwest now, and RCSS is the main store in Strathroy, way ahead of No Frills, Wal-Mart, Foodland and Food Basics. There is a small town friendliness with staff and customers. It's the only place with AAA beef, assorted cheese, fresh fish, and discounted appliances. I found a $125 Tiger rice cooker for half price, and paid with points and Petrol Superbucks. Good marketing! Petrol is way cheaper too, but I definitely don't get Joe Fresh.

                                                                                              Moving out of GTA I miss Highland Farms, Diana's and T&T the most. But now I have Purdy's, with their own boats.

                                                                                              Still, once or twice a month, I go to Costco in London and rack up bigger bills on meat, appliances, canned goods, detergent, staples, produce and cheese. Surprisingly, the checkout is faster and more efficient at Costco than RCSS. I guess they think about these things.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                You remind me. Highland Farms is the only chain grocer selling salmon I'm happy to take home without making some big, fat, hairy deal about it. Now if only they'd increase the variety of seafood.

                                                                                              2. never tried but has anyone tried Al Supermarket (Warden Eglinton)?

                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: kbdid

                                                                                                  Strange. I was there at the time that you posted. Looks good. new, big, bright.
                                                                                                  And cheap. Lots of Asian stuff. Like a T&T but with Halal as well. But with all of these places , it helps to know the difference between good and not.

                                                                                                  Open to midnight, but some departments shut down earlier.

                                                                                                  They have whole jackfruit if anyone is interested.

                                                                                                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                    It is a good spot. Like you say,lots of Asian as well as South Asian & West Indian and a deli.

                                                                                                  2. re: kbdid

                                                                                                    Love Al......they pretty much have everything you can think of...as already mentioned...middle eastern,east and West Indian etc...they even have a Indian and Middle eastern hot food counter besides the Asian hot food and BBQ...though food is nothing to write home about...

                                                                                                      1. re: Herne

                                                                                                        Herne,if you mean the hot food section .....the hot food section has canadian Chinese stuff like chicken balls and wings etc.....

                                                                                                      2. re: warlock

                                                                                                        yeah the Chinese food specifically is pretty sub standard but I had an actually very tasty eggplant potato curry from there. Can't vouch for anything else tho. Cool supermarket

                                                                                                      3. re: kbdid

                                                                                                        Really glad this place opened up. Spacious, bright, prices are decent - unless you ask my brother, who scoffed at the price/lb of bbq pork (Mississauga prices are better)

                                                                                                      4. I second Longo's and Highland Farms, especially for HF's usually MASSIVE deli counter.

                                                                                                        We do almost all of our groceries from one of those two places and we do have to drive about 10-15 minutes to do so. Worth it.

                                                                                                        1. I like going to St. Lawrence Market but I usually end up at Longos at MLS because it's closer. The Metro on Front has stale bread most of the time so I avoid it now.

                                                                                                          1. The good burghers of York Mills, among whom I count myself, have a a respectable market selection, from modestly priced to insanely expensive. A short drive from Yonge and York Mills, there's Pusateri's flagship store on Avenue Rd. north of Lawrence. Well laid out, colorfully organized, it's like walking into an art gallery - for food. You don't even have to buy anything to enjoy it (lots of free samples). But if you shop prudently for items you can't get anywhere else (on-the-premises fresh-squeezed juices, for example) you can do quite well there (though VVM might disagree). Note: despite mention to the contrary on this thread,I haven't noticed any pushy, overbearing, disagreeable customers on the premises, though maybe I'm one of them and don't realize it. Best of all: you rarely have to wait more than a minute to check out. Hallelujah! First-rate service. If you find the fruits and veggies too highly priced, as I do (it can get crazy sometimes, especially the frisee), hie yourself up Avenue Rd. a few blocks to No Frills, where the fruits, etc. aren't quite as dazzling, but the prices are often half Pusateri's. I often see the same faces at No Frills that I saw 20 minutes before at Pusateri's, stocking up on Forelle pears and Boston lettuce.

                                                                                                            There's a well-run Loblaw's on Yonge, at the City Limits, and an even better-run Longo's at Leslie and York Mills. Standard prices. The only dud in the crowd, in my view, is the Metro at York Mills and Bayview. A grim, lack-lustre joint it is, despite recent tarting up, and startlingly high prices (some higher than Pusateri's, if that's possible). You'll do better at the much-smaller Nortown Meats, in the same plaza, especially in their prepared foods section. All we're missing is a close-by Highland Farms. The branch on north Dufferin St. south of Steeles, where I get to occasionally, has one of the best, well-priced fruit and veggie sections in town. If I had a Highland Farms within striking distance, that may be enough to wean me off Pusateri's. Until that happens, though, I'm hooked.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: juno

                                                                                                              Don't forget Bruno's on Avenue Rd, juno. Good quality produce (the produce is always overpriced, but it's always in extremely good shape, so I see the price as a premium they're charging for the sorting and convenience), meats, take-out and deli. Easier lot to access than Pusateri's. Less selection and not as luxe as Pusateri's, but I'd think Bruno's meats are just as good.

                                                                                                              1. re: prima

                                                                                                                Agreed, the Bruno's branch just up the street from Pusateri's, is Pusateri's equal for produce and, especially, meats. (With roughly the same prices, alas.) But I don't get to Bruno's too often because, in my view, Pusateri's beats Bruno's in just about every other category. Besides, with its temptingly arranged displays, the much more spacious Pusateri's store is more entertaining to wander through. Simply, Pusateri's has more pizzazz. And there's always the evil glee of stumbling upon some particularly outrageous pricing at Pusateri's: e.g., sriracha sauce at quadruple the going price in the real world. For sure, you have to keep your wits about you in Pusateri's if you hope to out of there alive - which only adds to the fun of the place.

                                                                                                            2. Re: Highland Farms.

                                                                                                              Moving away from my 'hood in three weeks from the two No Frills I have fallen in love with. Am trying to figure out where my new fave grocery store.

                                                                                                              Moving to an area with a dearth of store options (Guildwood).

                                                                                                              The West Hill Highland Farms was a staple for us growing up but all I remember were the grumpy women who used to weigh our produce and put the stickers on.

                                                                                                              Is this HF one of the ones everyone speaks so highly of? Or is the Kennedy Rd location the better of the two?

                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: geoprincess

                                                                                                                My read of it is that the Mississauga store is the best one. Personally, I shop at HF Kennedy/Ellesmere. I'm absolutely happy there. I think Scarberian shops at the West Hill location. Maybe he can tell you if the ladies who sticker are still grumpy.

                                                                                                                BTW if you're moving to Guildwood, scarberian is your best guide/friend in the area.

                                                                                                                1. re: Googs

                                                                                                                  I left the area two years ago, but HF West Hill/Morningside was my choice as it was small, uncrowded and very convenient. I travelled to Kennedy/Ellesmere more often for the massive choice offerings, especially Mediterranean and Balkan.

                                                                                                                  But Bennett Rd. has exceptional produce, and very good meat counter service. Not grumpy. Check out is very quick. The scuttlebutt says the family will keep this small, quiet HF going as long as possible for sentimental reasons.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Googs

                                                                                                                    It's possibly the newest, Googs. For all its massive hangar-like bigness, the Mississauga store is clean, orderly and remarkably well-stocked. Produce is A-1. Not bad cheese selection; good deli; OK+ fresh and frozen seafood. IMHO, they've badly dented Longo's once-great rep for produce in the west end.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Kagemusha

                                                                                                                      Thanks! I'm happy to hear it's a good choice. I might still travel west to my old No Frills haunt (Golden Mile) -- love their reduced produce -- allows me to get creative. Thanks for the scarberian reco -- will have to connect to find some good food places. We are fairly lucky here in west scarborough -- southeast Scarborough, not so much.

                                                                                                                      1. re: geoprincess

                                                                                                                        Honestly, I live about a 10 minute walk from that No Frills. I still ride the transit to HF. I used shop at NF and the Metro across the street. After a few experimental trips to HF, I found it replaced not just those two, but just about any need to go to any specialty shops.

                                                                                                                        Kagemusha, shocking story. I had gotten as far as the deli counter at my local HF when I realized I didn't have any dried porcinis. I asked the guy stocking one of the floor freezers nearby if they had them. Not only did he know they did, but he was able to tell me exactly where they were. No, "that's not my dept" or "ask so-and-so" or anything. Good thing I had the cart to hold onto, I was stunned. Large or not, they know their inventory.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Googs

                                                                                                                          Yup, I've have similar experiences at the Miss. HF. Couldn't find Lyle's Golden Syrup recently in any of the likely spots and was pointed to the location from the other side of the store. That sort of question these days at Loblaws just gets blank stares and a shrug.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Kagemusha

                                                                                                                            Hi Kafemusha. Are you talking about Highland Farms at Matheson and Hurontario?

                                                                                                                              1. re: Kagemusha

                                                                                                                                I go to that store about 3 times a year to buy imported foods--fish, pickles, some deli meats, canned fish and other things not readily available in the major supermarkets. Two summers ago we went weekly to stores in the west end--German, Polish Asian, Russian stores. Lots of different stuff. But usually it is Costco for everything bottled, canned or plastic wrapped, major supermarkets for smaller things and T&T for Asian stuff.

                                                                                                                  1. Now I knew what most of these "ethnic" places and grocers were all about. What is Karma? Summerhill? Geesh; not enough hours for all these places when I come to visit!

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. forgot to add: love starkys!

                                                                                                                      - khao san road

                                                                                                                      1. Highland farms out in Mississauga wins hands down simply because of the size. It's huge and they have a good selection of foods. Prices aren't necessarily the best, but they're reasonable depending on what you buy.

                                                                                                                        In the same area there is Ocean's down on Eglinton and Hurontario where the Food Basics used to be. It's a Chinese market that sells a lot of ethnic type foods but the prices are excellent on most things. To a lesser degree there is also Grant's down on Dixie & Bloor which actually is a smaller version of Oceans.

                                                                                                                        There's Whole Foods when you need to find something upscale or an "exotic" ingredient that you can't find elsewhere. You're paying for it there though.

                                                                                                                        And for sheer convenience, there's the Loblaws close to where I live. Not my favourite place to shop because of their prices, but it's close and they're open late.

                                                                                                                        1. PAT mart and Bloor Fruit Market across the Street

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Bobby Wham

                                                                                                                            Much as I want to like the place, I never end up buying much other than oddball Asian junk food in various shades of fluorescence.

                                                                                                                            What do you buy there?

                                                                                                                            1. re: meatnveg

                                                                                                                              If I may jump in here, I like going to PAT on Lawrence east after a trip to Diana's Seafood. That way I can match veggies and sauces to the fresh seafood.

                                                                                                                              1. re: meatnveg

                                                                                                                                I buy vegetables, all the meat is top quality, noodles, dumplings, hot sauce, pan chan, kim chee, furikake, rice

                                                                                                                                1. re: Bobby Wham

                                                                                                                                  Which Kimchee do you buy? They have a few if I remember correctly

                                                                                                                                2. re: meatnveg

                                                                                                                                  For the imaginative, dipping into Korean or Japanese everyday items, P.A.T. offers a lot. Buckwheat noodles, mirin, Yamasa soy sauce, dried seaweed, salted seaweed, low cost Asian utensils, sushi rice, dashi, and miso a dozen ways. They do have packaged ramen, if that's all you need.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                                                    Yup, tons of stuff. Easy to resource many of Chang's recipes from the Momofuku cookbook with a stop at P.A.T. Good selection, fair prices. Can only talk about their Mississauga location but it's a great store.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                                                      You can see why it pairs so nicely with Diana's Seafood.

                                                                                                                                3. Really liking the new Longo's in Oakville on Cornwall. Went to Cork's for the first time last night. Saturday, Sunday and Monday food deal is $10 for a 10" personal pizza and a pint of beer. They also have other deals including an oyster night.

                                                                                                                                  1. Surprised no one has mentioned the Seafood Depot in Woodbridge. Amazing selection of seafood, live tanks, tons of frozen seafood too, and lots of Italian goods (pastas, sauces, oils,..). All at excellent prices.

                                                                                                                                    Kind of a weird assortment, but it's a great place to pick up fish for a couple of meals and load up the pantry and freezer.

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: kwass

                                                                                                                                        Yeah, their website says it is the largest fish and seafood store:

                                                                                                                                        Went once with my parents. I was pretty impressed.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: kwass

                                                                                                                                          Yes. Huge "fresh" fish and seafood counter, but some is previously frozen. Plus the tanks mentioned.

                                                                                                                                          Another great place for seafood and Asian groceries (with fantastic prices) is First Choice Supermarket in Markham.

                                                                                                                                          These are my "Go To" places for seafood, Italian, and Asian ingredients, with a regular stop at Diana's for special surprises like fresh Uni in season !

                                                                                                                                          1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                                                                            Thanks guys. I've been looking for a good place to buy fish that isn't going to break the bank. I'm going to check the website to see if they sell Mahi Mahi, since that's what I've been craving lately.

                                                                                                                                      2. I love my local No Frills. Produce is so fresh, and there are always lovely surprises like the tastiest baklava I just picked up on Sunday. You would have thought it came from a bakery on the Danforth. In fact, that is what I may have told my brunch guests LOL!

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: kwass

                                                                                                                                            No Frills varies a lot depending on the franchisee. I have a very good one now, much better than any I used in GTA.

                                                                                                                                        1. Foody Mart Hwy 7 - Asian
                                                                                                                                          PAT East/Galleria - Korean
                                                                                                                                          Food Depot International - German
                                                                                                                                          Niemeyer Imports - Dutch
                                                                                                                                          Vienna Fine Foods - German Deli
                                                                                                                                          Arz - Middle Eastern
                                                                                                                                          Kawartha Dairy - Milk (I like Reid's Dairy more but they closed down all the stores except Whitby)
                                                                                                                                          No Fills - Everything else
                                                                                                                                          Costco - Stirling Butter
                                                                                                                                          Metro - Airmiles

                                                                                                                                          1. Try Yummi's at Dufferin south of Finch for a Russian/Jewish/European store - excellent cheese, deli, salads and tons of interesting canned/jarred goods!

                                                                                                                                            1. I love the Rabba's Fine Foods on Front St (173 I think )...they have awesome deli meats and cheeses, the baked goods are always fresh and the staff is very friendly and helpful...the one on Jarvis,just above Dundas St. is pretty good too