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May 16th, 2012 WW Staff | Market Guide
 

Devour 2012: Grocers

generalgrocers_devour2012_3828FOOD 4 LESS - IMAGE: Mike Grippi

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Top Picks:
  • Cherry Sprout Market
    ‘cause it’s just so darn Portland.
  • Barbur World Foods
    for the city’s best deli case.
  • Pastaworks
    for fresh noodles and housemade mozzarella.
  • Sheridan Fruit Company
    for the sausage rainbow.
  • Woodsman Market
    so you can say you were there before the New Yorkers showed up and ruined it.

Alberta Co-op

1500 NE Alberta St., 287-4333, albertagrocery.coop.

[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, organic catnip.


Barbur World Foods

9845 SW Barbur Blvd., 244-0670, barburworldfoods.com.

[FEED THE WORLD] Barbur World Foods is your average family-run supermarket, if your average market included dozens of options for flatbreads, an entire aisle for olive oil and vinegars, ready-to-grill kebabs and a broad selection of cheeses from Eastern Europe and beyond. The produce section carries a few surprises, including fresh chickpeas, sweet limes and starfruit. The deli counter offers freshly made Mediterranean specialties like dolmas and spanakopita (the owners are also the proprietors of Ya Hala), and a repurposed Jelly Belly display offers some bulk legumes and grains. MHW.

Shopping list: Lamb kebabs, fresh pita bread, Armenian string cheese, Lebanese wine.


Berry Good Produce & Nursery

5523 SE 28th Ave., 234-7288. 

[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. 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.

[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-sized 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. 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, cherrysprout.com.

[INDIE ROCKET] The Albina-Mississippi area is lucky to have this carrot-topped (literally—there’s a giant carrot sitting on top of the building) produce mart, tucked back off of Albina. In addition to the produce and household staples like canned beans and cleaning supplies, Cherry Sprout features lots of locally made treats such as Ota tofu, King Harvest hummus and Flav-R-Pac frozen veggies. A beer and wine cooler by the registers make Cherry Sprout a great one-stop shop for dinner. MHW.

Shopping list: Cascade Naturals tempeh, bulk granolas and organic dog food.


Food 4 Less

7979 SE Powell Blvd., 774-4665, portlandfood4less.com. 

[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. 

[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.


Growers Outlet

16145 NE Glisan St., 256-3629, thegrowersoutlet.com. Closed Sunday.

[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. 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. 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. 

[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.


Market of Choice

8502 SW Terwilliger Blvd., 892-7331, marketofchoice.com. 

[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 11 other locations, newseasonsmarket.com.

[FEEL-GOOD FOOD] Like all New Seasons Markets, the Hawthorne store makes a big commitment to local products, carrying bountiful local choices from Stock Options frozen stock to Dulcet madras curry mustard to Bob’s Red Mill flours. And it still carries mass-market standbys such as Oreos and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. While New Seasons may be harder on your wallet than other grocery stores, you’re compensated with five-star service. After searching for beef short ribs at the Freddy’s down the street, I called the Hawthorne New Seasons’ meat department to see if it carried the cut. After not finding it in the front counter, the butcher doubled-checked the fridge in the back. The short ribs were trimmed, wrapped and waiting when I arrived. DC.

Shopping list: Local organic veggies, antipasti from the olive bar, choice cuts from the meat counter, hard-to-find specialty items such as cacao nibs.


Pastaworks

3735 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 232-1010; 4212 N Mississippi Ave., 445-1303; 735 NW 21st Ave., 221-3002; pastaworks.com. Mississippi Avenue store closed Tuesday.

[GOURMET CORNUCOPIA] Although not a place at which you’re likely to do your average weekly grocery shopping (or maybe you do, Mr. Moneybags, what do I know? Journalists live off Top Ramen and self-righteousness), Pastaworks is the place you want to go to throw a knock-their-socks-off dinner party without getting your hands dirty. Start with the eponymous pasta ($8 for 16 ounces)—fresh and supple and ready from packet to plate in about three minutes. There are housemade sauces, but why drown your $8 ravioli in marinara? Buy a tub of sage butter for $3 instead. The cheesemongers will throw together an impressive cheese plate, and the Hawthorne store has a formidable meat counter that offers terrines and sausages and house-cured animal bits. For your inevitable vegan guest, there are good-looking carrots. RB

Shopping list: Fresh pasta, olive oil, cheese, wine.


People’s Food Co-op

3029 SE 21st Ave., 674-2642, peoples.coop. 

[CONSCIENTIOUS COOPERATIVE] You might call People’s a “natural foods” store and be done with it. But that would like calling the Timbers a “sports franchise.” Because like the Timbers, to its truest believers People’s is more than a commercial category. It’s a community. And unlike the Timbers, it’s owned by that community, which dictates the values its wares reflect. Lengthy Web pages lay out the reasoning for and against certain products, selected by consensus. GMOs, overpackaged or misleadingly labeled products, and meat in all forms are verboten; there is an abundance of fresh organic produce, gluten-free snacks and sauerkraut. People’s takes the community philosophy further, providing indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, a year-round farmers market, and frequent events and classes. It’s also a refuge: It’s not unusual to find folks tucked away somewhere inside, drinking tea and engaged in deep conversation. Try that in the frozen-foods aisle at Freddy’s. CB.

Shopping list: Non-peanut butters, natural cleaning supplies, gluten-free anything.


Portland Fruit and Produce

8040 SE Foster Road, 777-0072. 

[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. 

[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. LC.

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


Sheridan Fruit Company

409 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 236-2114, sheridanfruit.com.

[BULK UP] The sagging, slightly sad 1960s interior obscures just how excellent a grocery store Sheridan really is. It’s like Fred Meyer and a food co-op had a really ugly child: a truly egalitarian market where bulk bins of dry lentils share real estate with vac-packed heirloom legumes from a small farm in Idaho, next to 7-pound tins of B&M baked beans. There’s a surprisingly large amount of food packed into these modest digs, Mary Poppins-style, and every visit yields a new surprise—locally made fennel shrub while shopping for juice, small-batch hot sauce from Kansas while searching for Tabasco, scrapple while looking for sausages. You’ll almost certainly come out with something you didn’t need, but also everything you did. RB.

Shopping list: Bulk flours, grains, spices and dried fruit; sausages; fresh vegetables; Garry’s Meadow milk.


Whole Foods

4301 NE Sandy Blvd., 284-2644, and other locations, see wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/oregon.

[SPECIAL DIET FINDS] No, this sleek, national chain of organic food and lifestyle porn is not where most of us will ever do our weekly grocery shopping. But it does have merit in terms of breadth of selection. It’ll allow you to gather ingredients for esoteric recipes, feed friends with special dietary needs and buy your favorite local coffee (Ristretto, Cellar Door, Water Ave.) and local bread (Ken’s, Pearl or Grand Central) without having to waste gas motoring to seven different specialty shops. The company’s exhaustively P.C. need to be everything to everyone means you can score gluten-free and vegan versions of most anything (from soy chorizo to Sweet Pea wheat-free brownies) as well as seven different sugar substitutes, raw food treats and probiotic supplements. KC.

Shopping list: San Marzano whole canned tomatoes, Belgian sugar pearls, heirloom rattlesnake beans, gluten-free cake mix, Country Natural beef, kombucha, tiramisu in a cup.


Woodsman Market

4537 SE Division St., 971-373-8267, woodsmantavern.com/market. 

[EYE CANDY] The Woodsman Tavern’s adjacent food shop is not a market. It’s a Flemish still life, a movie set, a glossy New York Times Magazine photo collage; right down to that whole cured pig leg sitting on the counter and those local apples artfully tumbling out of a basket atop an antique cart out front. It’s so damn cute it makes Pastaworks look like Winco. But above and beyond the eye-candy value, there are some great (albeit expensive) food finds in the wee, subway-tiled space, from Steve Jones’ favorite cheese of the moment to Shun knives, Fino in Fondo salami and Woodsman’s own crazy-thick house pork chops, bacon, sausage and other house-butchered goodies. There are fancy pickles and vinegars, whole milk in bottles and expensive beers, but (in accordance with the laws of Portlandia) they also stock sixers of Rainier and rolls of cheap toilet paper, thank you very much. KC.

Shopping list: Fresh shaved prosciutto, pork chops, fresh blooms from Fieldwork.


Zupan’s Market

3301 SE Belmont St., 239-3720; 7221 SW Macadam Blvd., 244-5666; 2340 W Burnside St., 497-1088; zupans.com. 

[C’EST CHIC] All the produce at Zupan’s is picture perfect: neatly stacked and not a brown spot in sight. The rest of the supermarket is equally gleaming and well stocked, including an extensive beer and wine selection, cheese aisle and olive bar. Much of what’s on offer is “organic,” “artisanal” or “heirloom”—sometimes all three. Expect to pay a little more than at Freddy’s, but head home feeling like a well-heeled socialite. Just don’t forget to bring your own bags. MHW.

Shopping list: Rogue Creamery cheeses, Columbia Gorge juices.

 
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