Best non-chain grocery in West LA?
There are so many wonderful items at Trader Joes that you do not need to shop anyplace else.
I especially like the store on Barrington and Olympic.
A few of my favorites - in no particular order-
Organic Breast of Chicken. Perfect for many recipes
Kale/Spinach balls - frozen section
Chicken Tikka Masala - fresh section
Eggplant Parmesan - frozen section
Spinach & Kale Dip
All of the Cheese
Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup - grocery aisle
Italian Country Salad
Blueberry Greek Yogurt
Coffee Ice Cream Bars
Raspberry Ice Cream Bars
Turkey Meatballs - frozen section
Olive Oil Popcorn
Chopped fresh Garlic
Frozen French Onion Soup - I bake in a crock
Vanilla Almond Cereal
Kerrygold Irish Butter
Triple Layer Hummus
Multigrain Pita Crackers
Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Gazpacho - seasonal
Turkey Wrap - seasonal
Problem with most of those items you mention is they have way too much salt/sodium, hence my referring to TJs as Sodium City.
And thus I do not eat any of the items on your list, save the frozen chicken breasts.
Their veggies are generally over the hill, are pre-packaged, and ready for someone else to eat.
Even their flowers are seconds, meaning no longer able to be sold to a first class flower shop.
I agree with most of what Carter says with the exception of some of the flowers. When Peonies are in season, TJ's seems to get the great ones and at very low prices. Their orchids are also a good deal if one gets there early in the morning for the best ones.
The Dorot Frozen garlic cubes are reason enough for me to go to TJs. A chef friend told me about these and this is one of the best products I have come across in years. Each little chiclet-looking thing is one clove of garlic. I haven't used fresh garlic since I discovered this product. They also sell frozen basil cubes by the same company. I used to buy the stuffed peppers (stuffed with ground turkey and brown rice). Tasted yummy. Then I carefully read the ingredients one day and saw that the turkey was "mechanically separated" meaning those peppers were filled with pink slime:(
I totally agree with you regarding those Israeli Dorot garlic cubes. Always have 2-3 in the freezer. Don't use much basil, however.
The peonies can be good when available, but I have had more than a few occasions where they have never opened up, especially beyond a tiny bit before they crash & die.
Orchids - yes, good and priced well. Sometimes their tulips are also young, meaning at 8am on either Saturday or Sunday morning when you have the best selection. Later in the day, they start to look like they have already lost it.
I like their walnuts and those boxes of cooked, ready to eat beets in the produce section - also have lentils but they are not of particular interest.
Sprouts. There is a relatively new store in the former Ross on the west side of Westwood Blvd. north of Santa Monica Blvd. Great prices on produce, with many items offered organic or not. Bulk bins for rice, flour, etc.
I have tried some of the Mexican and other markets on Pico and Venice. Some great prices, but selection and quality can be limited.
Trader Joe's for milk, butter, especially cheese, frozen french green beans and petite peas.
Farmers markets -- one of the most accessible is Saturday mornings in the rec area on the N/W corner of Pico and Cloverfeld (25th). Good quality, but few bargains.
Sorry to say, can't beat Ralph's for weekly specials on meat loss leaders -- picked up a nice bone-in NY strip today for $6.99/lb. -- sometimes two bucks less.
The Co-op on Colorado (?) in SM has good bulk spices.
my go-to ethnic market in that area is Santa Monica Glatt Kosher on the corner of Colby and Santa Monica. good produce and herbs at great prices, well-priced spices, good selection of yogurt, feta, rice, tea, dried fruits, pita. because it's kosher, prices for meat and chicken are high but it's where I get chicken schnitzel. I'm not a fan of the bakery but packaged baked goods are ok. just know it's small and crowded and you should park in the lot across the street. closed Saturday. on Sunday they set up a tent and grill meat in their parking lot.
one of my favorite Ralphs is at Olympic and Barrington and, as noted by others, with a Ralphs card you can get excellent deals if you shop judiciously.
Your point is well taken.
I have found that for non-meat/produce items, Smart & Final delivers a very good value.
Just bought a box of Lipton Tea for a friend, $5.99 @ Gelsons, $4.99 at Ralphs and currently on sale for $3.99, yet regular price at Smart & Final is $3.59.
I like Gelson's for meat & produce. Shop their sale brochure, which typically comes out about once a month.
I have never thought any good thoughts about RiffRalphs and Vons, and so far they have done nothing to dissuade me from those thoughts.
And you can keep virtually all produce at TJs. I also never buy meat there. Its nickname is Sodium City as every condiment and mixed bag or jar of whatever is so sodium-laden.
Sorry to add another chain, but Nijiya on Sawtelle in West LA is a small but very well-stocked Japanese market.
Granada Market - also on Sawtelle - is a mom&pop that usually has outstanding fresh seafood - the offerings are somewhat limited to ensure freshness.
Star Santa Monica Blvd is very close to where you live. This market offers Middle Eastern and Persian groceries.
Bristol Farms is another chain, but the one on Wilshire in Santa Monica is close and huge compared to any others that I've shopped in. Another plus is the easy parking.
Not sure what you mean by avoiding for price reasons. In my experience Ralph's and Von's usually have the best prices on basic items, as long as you have a club card. Trader Joe's can also be cheaper; Gelsons and Bristol Farms not so much. Whole Foods has some decent prices on their 365 store brand and some bulk items. Farmers markets will be cheaper than the grocery stores for what's in season at the moment, otherwise about the same or even more expensive but better quality.