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May 18th, 2011 WW Culture Staff | Food Reviews & Stories
 

Devour 2011: Grocers

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Alberta Co-op

1500 NE Alberta St., 287-4333, albertagrocery.coop. 9 am-10 pm daily.

[LOCAL/ORGANIC] Still the only cooperatively owned grocery serving Northeast Portland, this cozy co-op has had its doors open for just under a decade. Alberta Co-op’s inventory is impressive, going beyond the standard fare of Annie’s, Amy’s and Newman’s to offer a wide variety of bulk foods (including over 100 spices) and soaps, alternative milk products (hemp, hazelnut and oat milks), and local beers and wines, most at prices that put New Seasons to shame. Tags indicating the precise locality of products line the shelves, and charts explaining the structure of the organic industry make this shop seem like the real deal. When they put something on sale, get ready to load up. (NB)

Shopping list: Bulk tofu, Lost Coast Brewery Raspberry Brown, organic catnip.


Berry Good Produce & Nursery

5523 SE 28th Ave.,. 234-7288. 9 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday, 9 am-6 pm Sunday.

[PRODUCE STAND] With its open-air feel and somewhat preoccupied teenagers manning the register and blasting Katy Perry tunes, this produce stand could be transplanted from any country road. Fortunately for hungry liberal-arts students and veggie-loving Eastmorelanders, it’s right across from Reed College. The stand has a solid mix of local and non-local fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. (The shiitakes seemed like an especially good deal at $7.99 a pound.) Berry Good also features some local grocery standouts such as Rose Valley Butter, Thai and True sauces, Eugene’s Surata Soyfoods tofu and bags of frozen berries. You can even pick up some plants to spruce up your porch. It’s definitely worth a stop after a trip to the Rhododendron Garden. (DC)

Shopping list: Local bread, honey and berries, hanging flower baskets.


Cash & Carry

1420 NW 14th Ave., 221-1049, and other locations, smartfoodservice.com. 6 am-6 pm Monday-Saturday, 8 am-5 pm Sunday.

[BIG ’N’ TALL] From crates of Solo cups and popcorn bags to gallon jugs of ranch dressing and cases of corn dogs, this dirt-cheap grocery warehouse is a small-restaurant owner or budget party planner’s best friend. This barebones spot’s got satellite dish-size serving bowls and chafing dishes at the ready—plus bulk meat, condiments, coffee and a whole wall of snow-cone syrups. There are walk-in fridges for dairy and produce, and a freezer colder than the Arctic just for ice cream (and ice-cream cakes). It’s not fancy, and its goods are often neither local nor organic, but when you need chips and salsa for 25 people, it’s time to swallow your pride and start pushing one of those monster rolling pallets the chain provides instead of grocery carts. (KC)

Shopping list: Forty pounds of top sirloin, a case of green peppers, a dozen salt-and-pepper shakers, 18-quart plastic food-safe bin.


Cherry Sprout Produce Market

722 N Sumner St., 445-4959, myspace.com/cherrysproutproducemarket. 9 am-8 pm Monday- Saturday, 10 am-7 pm Sunday.

[ROCKIN’ PRODUCE] If this tiny corner market and greengrocer were any sweeter, shoppers would be in a diabetic coma by the time they got to the lone register. Luckily, you’d be OD’ing on a well-edited selection of local and, when possible, organic produce, ethnic cookin’ staples, healthy bulk dog and cat food, and inexpensive toilet paper rather than big-box treats. The Sprout’s trio of owners are all local musicians, so be sure to browse the employee CD bin and grab a flier for the market’s next live music or art show. (KC)

Shopping list: Hood River mushrooms, coconut milk, local eggs and butter, local CDs.


Eastmoreland Market & Kitchen

SE Knapp St., 771-1186, eastmorelandmarket.com. 9 am-7 pm Monday-Friday, 9 am-6 pm Saturday.

[NEIGHBORHOOD GOURMET] At first glance a humble neighborhood bodega, Eastmoreland Market is a godsend for a neighborhood without a weekend farmers market, where the best supermarket is a Safeway. In addition to a really phenomenal deli counter (try the muffuletta!), the Market carries sausages from Salumeria di Carlo, pork from Tails & Trotters, veggies from Gathering Together Farms and an impressive array of groceries. One shelf is dedicated to Italian and Spanish imports in neat stacks: squid ink, pimenton de la vera, ceramic cazuelas of various sizes, canned bonito tuna and really good olive oil. (BW)

Shopping list: Cascade Natural tenderloin steak, assorted fresh mushrooms, Courier Coffee, paella rice.


Food 4 Less

7979 SE Powell Blvd., 774-4665, food4less.com. 6-1 am daily.

[FOODIE U.N.] Unaffiliated with the Kroger-owned chain in Southern California or the independent chain in Stockton, Portland’s Food 4 Less is a locally owned independent supermarket in the model of an internationalist WinCo. The produce isn’t local or organic, for the most part, but the store sells a greater variety of fresh chilies and tropical fruits than you’ll find elsewhere. The meat department often carries rabbit. Mexican, Slavic and East Asian customers each get a massive aisle. It’s the only place to get all the shopping for a Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? theme party done in one go. (BW)

Shopping list: Ten kinds of instant ramen, prickly pear, gallon can of green chilies.


Food Front

2375 NW Thurman St., 222-5658; 6344 SW Capitol Highway, 546-6559, foodfront.coop. 8 am-9 pm daily.

[LARGE-SCALE CO-OP] This long-lived community grocery has grown into a Portland institution, with two large locations, a booming deli business and one of the best fruit departments in town. Though Food Front is not immune to the high-end fatty snacks and unappetizing health-food concoctions that plague America’s natural-food stores, there’s just as much great stuff: loads of local cheeses, bulk nuts, beer and wine, and outstanding produce. (BW)

Shopping list: Mt-n-Man Chia Bar, local honey, Ancient Heritage goat cheese and a handful of kumquats.


Foster & Dobbs Authentic Foods

2518 NE 15th Ave., 284-1157, fosteranddobbs.com. 10 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday, noon-6 pm Sunday.

[GIFT-WORTHY GROCERIES] Named in honor of their mothers’ maiden handles, Tim Wilson and Luan Schooler’s Irvington shop is an altar to all things foodie—selling excellent cheeses both local and imported, wines, pickles and mustards, chocolates and other sweets at fair, not cheap, prices. Do not leave the premises without a butcher’s-paper package of Salumi sausage from Seattle under your arm. Come back for big, tasty sandwiches, wine tasting and clever classes. (KC)

Shopping list: Pearl Bakery baguette, Gaeta olives, “extra aged” Comté cheese, local Xocolatl de Davíd fleur de sel caramels.


Growers Outlet

16145 NE Glisan St., 256-3629, thegrowersoutlet.com. 7:30 am-6:30 pm Monday-Friday, 7:30 am-6 pm Saturday.

[OLD MACGRESHAM HAD A FARM] Ken Brendler’s red barn looks out of place squatting on a busy corner out near Gresham—like a Wizard of Oz tornado dropped the Portland Farmers Market in the ’burbs. For three decades Brendler and his family have worked with local farmers to provide good-quality, inexpensive produce and fruits, from potatoes to tomatoes to fungi and greens, for their shoppers. “They deliver it from the field to the back door, and we bring it in and sell it,” says Ken’s sister, Growers manager Jan Brendler, with a laugh. “You can’t get much fresher than that.” The homey, rustic space counsels its customers at every turn, with handwritten notes explaining which Washington apple varieties are good for baking or freezing, and signs drawing attention to bins of onion starts, yuca root and local jellies and sauces. Growers Outlet buys nuts and grains in bulk and repackages them in smaller portions for customers to cut costs. Load up on golden raisins and granola, or Brazil nuts, pecans, and Oregon walnuts and hazelnuts. (KC)

Shopping list: Super-seasonal produce, fresh herbs, hazelnuts, Briar Patch boysenberry jam, Tampico orange punch.


Kruger’s Farm Market

7316 N Lombard St.; 2310 SE Hawthorne Blvd., krugersfarmmarket.com. 1-5 pm Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm Saturday-Sunday (St. Johns); 9 am-7 pm daily (Hawthorne).

[ISLAND PRODUCE] Summers on Sauvie Island: U-pick berries, farm concerts, corn mazes, fresh produce. It’s around the corner, but until then, Sauvie’s Kruger’s Farm Market boasts stands in St. Johns and on Hawthorne. Out of season, Kruger’s offers much of the same produce you’ll find at a Fred Meyer but at much lower prices (“no huge overhead,” as one employee pointed out), but the local flair is found in the farm’s expansive and well-priced canned goods selection. Please, for the love of all things holy, do not let yourself overlook these heavenly jams, sauces, salsas and condiments. (CM)

Shopping list: Fruits ’n’ veggies, Walla Walla sweet onion and jalapeño hot sauce.


Limbo

4707 SE 39th Ave., 774-8008. 6 am-9 pm daily.

[CHEAP ORGANICS] This inexpensive fruit and produce shop shares a parking lot and a wall with a Trader Joe’s, making this the only TJ’s in the city where you can actually do all of your shopping. In addition to the green stuff, Limbo carries the full range of Bob’s Red Mill flours and beans, two local coffees, teas, soaps and tinctures. But what really sets the place apart from the city’s other small grocers is the enormous alley of 700 or so dried herbs and spices, from acidophilus to yuca. (BW)

Shopping list: Two papayas, Dave’s Killer Bread, an ounce each of mugwort, smoked paprika and burdock.


Little Green Grocer

1101 NW Northrup St., 297-4728, littlegreengrocer.com.

[CHICHI CONVENIENCE] A sort of yuppie bodega on the ground floor of the Sitka Apartments, carrying wine and beer, lots of condiments, soft drinks, canned soups and other things you don’t want to have to run to Whole Foods for, along with a small but very nice selection of produce, meat and dairy products, and locally prepared foods like Everydaycakes. (BW)

Shopping list: Christopher Elbow Chocolate, Jake’s Unbaked rawnola bar, Fresh Breeze organic milk, and a six pack of Caldera IPA—in the can.


Market of Choice

8502 SW Terwilliger Blvd., 892-7331, marketofchoice.com. 7 am-11 pm daily.

[BLUES AND BREWS] The Portland outpost of the Eugene-based natural-foods chain supplies the neighborhood around Lewis & Clark College with an odd mix of fine cheeses, obscure beers, and lots and lots of dietary supplements. But that’s all right—we’ll tolerate a little snake oil so long as we can get Boulevard and Fire Mountain brews, Bayley Hazen Blue and a good pineapple. (BW)

Shopping list: Beer from Scotland, cheese from Oregon, Enzymedica Allerase capsules from Florida.


New Seasons

4034 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 236-4800, and nine other locations, newseasonsmarket.com. 8 am-10 pm daily.

[SHOPPING, EVOLVED] The perfect supermarket? Maybe. The most Portland of supermarkets? Absolutely. New Seasons, with its sunny stores, robust website, prodigious educational materials and earnest environmental consciousness, is tailor-made for its city. And it’s a joyful place to shop, if you’ve got a little cash to blow. The produce is of unparalleled quality, the seafood is gorgeous and sustainably harvested (though the selection is puny), the meat and cheese are local, and the employees are all disconcertingly cheerful. The newest store, on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, packs all of the chain’s robust offerings into a tiny space, with a characteristically terrifying rooftop parking lot and excellent deli counter, and adds the option for shoppers to borrow a wagon to walk their groceries home. New Seasons just announced its 11th market will open in Vancouver this year. Hey, New Seasons: If you’re looking for a spot for No. 12, maybe somewhere on Foster Road? Please? (BW)

Shopping list: Stumptown coffee, Pacific Village organic butter, Buddha’s hand citron, greens from Singing Pig Farm, St. Innocent wine.


PastaWorks

3735 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 232-1010; 4212 N Mississippi Ave., 445-1303; at City Market, 735 NW 21st Ave., 221-3002; pastaworks.com. 10 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday, Mississippi location closed Tuesday.

[EUROMANCE] Before the farmers market boom, the Food Network and ingredient porn, PastaWorks provided locals with a bucolic vision of how seductive food can be: roomy bins piled high with pretty local produce; a meat counter where the butcher will explain what guanciale is (and has pig intestine on hand for making the house sausages). The cheese selection is wondrously vast and ready for sampling, while each aisle brings new pocket-emptying marvels, from fleur de sel, bittersweet chocolate and syrupy balsamics to the shop’s own fresh pasta and sauces. (KC)

Shopping list: Fra’ Mani salami, house sausage, grassy olive oil, bottle of Italian vino, Gorgonzola dolce.


People’s Co-op

3029 SE 21st Ave., 674-2642, peoples.coop. 8 am-10 pm daily.

[NEXT-LEVEL BEETS] You think you shop sustainably? This co-op, established in 1970, is housed in a hyperefficient cob building, hosts a year-round farmers market and offers yoga classes to members upstairs. It’s a true natural-foods store, with emphasis on the “foods.” You won’t find the wall of tinctures and protein supplements that make up the majority of the stock at some other health-food stores in town (well, you might find just a few), but you will find excellent produce, a strong bulk foods section, local cheese and milk, and good bread—everything on your shopping list, so long as you aren’t shopping for meat. (BW)

Shopping list: Bulk Dutch cocoa, collards and Maine Root ginger brew.


Portland Fruit and Produce

8040 SE Foster Road, 777-0072. 8 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday, 9 am-6 pm Sunday.

[GRUNGE GREENS] This small produce shop on a particularly hellish corner of Foster Road was remodeled over the winter. The big bins of fruit out front are still there, but inside you’ll now find a few racks of processed foods: Bob’s Red Mill flour and legumes, Dave’s Killer Bread, house-labeled fruit preserves and some cheap snack foods. The produce is best here in summer—in winter, when the shop has to buy from the same wholesalers as everyone else, some of the veggies look as if they might have been walked up from Mexico—but the fruit is good year-round and the prices are always excellent. Portland Fruit is the best place to get Northwest apples long after the markets have closed for the season, and a good place to shop year-round when budgets get tight. (BW)

Shopping list: All the apples you can carry for 49 cents a pound.


Proper Eats

8638 N Lombard St., 445-2007, propereats.org. 10 am-10 pm daily.

[VEGGIES FOR VEGANS] Proper Eats feels like a henna- and hemp- built food cooperative: There’s a kitchen and cafe attached, and regular events include saved-seed swaps and open-mic nights. The small market up front carries a good amount of bulk foods—spices, flours, grains, cereals and liquids— along with produce, packaged foods and a small amount of household supplies. It’s not a one-stop shop unless you’re a monastic vegan, but there’s a lot of good food—especially local, organic produce. The cafe in the back is all about tasty vegetarian food along with kombucha and wine. (LC)

Shopping list: Jujubes, rhubarb, It’s Alive! kraut, bulk spices, green cleaning supplies.


Sheridan Fruit Company

409 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 236- 2114, sheridanfruit.com. 6 am-8 pm Monday- Saturday, 6 am-6 pm Sunday.

[INCREDIBLE BULK] At first glance, you’d think this was any run-of-the-mill grocery store. But turn left at the modest entrance to an easily missed passageway and you’ll find yourself in bulk heaven, walking along barrels and bins filled with pastas, granolas, nuts, candy, dried fruit, grains, lentils, beans, sugars, rice and spices. After your eyes adjust to the awesomeness, steer yourself back out into the main store and head for the meat section, where more than 30 types of housemade sausages await (the Wild Blue Yonder, filled with elk meat, blueberries, hazelnuts and sparkling white wine, is an experience in itself). Standard groceries, some interesting ethnic foods and a good wine selection fill up the rest of the building. And the produce ain’t bad, either. (NB)

Shopping list: Crystallized ginger, bulk quinoa, date sugar, sausage.


Zupan’s

3301 SE Belmont St., 239-3720; 2340 W Burnside St., 497-1088; 7221 SW Macadam Blvd., 244-5666; zupans.com. 6 am-10 pm; Macadam store 7 am-10 pm.

[FANCY FOODS] Slightly smaller and tonier than New Seasons, the Zupan family’s three grocery stores can be a frustrating place to shop for some staples—sometimes you just need Cheez-Its and Oreos—but are an absolute godsend when it’s time to plan for a nice dinner. The meat counters are well-stocked and affordably priced, given the quality of the goods; the cheese selection is among the finest around; and where else are you going to go for super-premium balsamic vinegar? (BW)

Shopping list: Salumi salami, Langres cheese, A.G. Ferrari pasta.

 
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