Market Guide 2014: Greengrocers


The Barn

5211 NE 148th Ave., 253-5103, Open June 1-Thanksgiving. Closed Sunday.

Smack in the middle of one of the most industrial stretches of Portland—near the airport and medical laboratories and the Multnomah County Republicans' office—is one of the region's best seasonal produce markets. Go figure. The Barn's been there since the 1940s, and the riverside industry sprung up around it later; the food still comes over mostly from Sauvie Island's Trapold Farms and Hood River growers. Get their sweet white corn and cucumbers (or pickled cucumbers) and kraut cabbage (or pickled kraut)—and, oh Lord, the rhubarb. During the months it's open, it is perhaps the most reliable source of fresh-picked local goods. Plus, on the way there, you can let Kaiser Permanente experiment on you. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Sweet corn, cherries, cabbage, squash, flowers. 

Berry Good Produce and Nursery

5523 SE 28th Ave., 234-7288, 

You're in Eastmoreland, but from the moment your tires crunch up dust in Berry Good's gravel parking lot, it feels more like you're on Sauvie Island or out in the Gorge. Walk around the front of this little red shanty and you'll find the 25-year-old produce stand is as homespun as you'd expect. Scrap-wood shelves hold flats of tomato and strawberry starts next to cardboard boxes of pre-grown strawberries, red peppers, mandarins and a barrel of filberts. There's a freezer with frozen berries and ice cream, and a refrigerator with milk by the gallon. Around back, there's a full nursery with trees, flowers and fruit. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Shopping list: Berries, squash, leafy greens, maybe a tree to grow your own fruit.

Cherry Sprout Produce Market

722 N Sumner St., 445-4959,

On the sidewalk in front of Cherry Sprout you'll find anything from big bags of potting soil and plant starts to pallet-topped crates of seasonal farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. You'll find more of the same inside this little-bit-of-everything neighborhood market. There's a healthy bulk section with all the usuals in addition to liquid-bulk apple cider vinegar and maple and agave syrups. Some things you won't find at most small neighborhood markets: 2-pound bags of fresh turnip greens, collards, curly and flat mustard greens, smoked ham hocks to go with those greens and bulk large organic eggs ($2.49 a dozen or $3.50 for two dozen). Added bonus: When you've finished your adult shopping you can reward yourself with an adult beverage at the Red Fox next door. LIZ CRAIN. 

Shopping list: Uprising Seeds packets, Papa G's marinated tofu, local wine and beer, all sorts of dried chilies.

Food Front

2375 NW Thurman St., 222-5658; 6344 SW Capitol Highway, 546-6559, 

Best grocery-store salad bar in Portland? That has to be Food Front, the westside co-op ("Are you a member?" No. "Are you a member?" No.) with locations in Hillsdale and off of Northwest 23rd. A medium-sized grocery store with bulk bins of gluten-free pretzel rings and a cornucopia of trail mixes, it also boasts a better-than-solid selection of beer and wine, plus probiotic dairy, natural cosmetics and intense breads. Oh, and there's hot food and deli sandwiches made to order. But that salad bar stocked with rapini, arugula, gigante beans, miso soy dressing and baked and marinated tofu slices is the best feature of all. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Shopping list: Salad bar!

Fruteria Don Pedro

1540 NE Killingsworth St., 688-5961.

This Mexican minimart doesn't have much on the inside, but outside in a thatch-roofed space it offers apples, bananas, plantains and melons in wonderful abundance behind a selection of flowers and little plants. That makes it a farmer-friendly food mart serving residents of a decidedly unbourgeois neighborhood, at fair prices—with a neighboring taqueria truck if you can't wait to get home to eat. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Tamarinds, plantains, local apples and pears, flowers, plus Mexican pastries inside the store.

Green Zebra Grocery

3011 N Lombard St., 286-9325,

When former New Seasons CEO Lisa Sedlar opened the first Green Zebra in Kenton last October, press statements said she hoped the tiny 5,600-square-foot space could serve as a bridge between the Grab 'n' Go philosophy of a convenience store and the locally sourced trappings of your average natural food grocery. Her Honey, I Shrunk the New Seasons model works beautifully so far. The Kenton store, about one-sixth the size of a supermarket, is basically an expanded pantry for the neighborhood.

That said, it's a balancing act between prepared foods and fresh ingredients, and between the biking or walking foodie who shops for one meal at a time and the harried parent who only has time to snag a roast chicken and a take-out box of mac and cheese from the hot food trays. The ready-to-eat foods carry some of the same higher prices customers are used to from convenience stores—though in this case it's not a pack of Fritos and soybean-oil dip you're buying, but rather food made from the same excellent materials the Zebra stocks in its meat cases and racks of produce.

This same small-batch care shows up in the people who work there, from Eugene, the bleach-blond guy at the register sporting a tattoo of the Green Zebra logo, to Justin, the fish butcher, who positively glows when he tells you how to prepare a whole fish on the grill wrapped in corn husks. It's difficult to maintain one's cynicism in the face of such unbridled enthusiasm. On a recent stop, after six months of going there exclusively with my wife, I found myself shopping solo. Three separate staffers immediately asked if she was OK. BRIAN PANGANIBAN.

Shopping list: Mary's Air-Chilled chicken, wild salmon fillets, Grand Central maple danishes, growlers of beer, wine, coffee or kombucha.

Growers Outlet

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

The Brendler family's red barn was born the same year I was, back when presumably it looked less out of place in the rustic streets of East Portland. But these days it looks to have been dropped into the urban thoroughfare—right by Tienda de Leon—from that great big farm in the sky where my cat lives. But the farms the Brendlers work with are much nearer, and just as your own blessed mother might, the family has written you little notes throughout the store about their apples and pears and roots, telling you what they're good for and where they come from. And if they haven't left a note, just ask. This family knows fruit. Heck, they'll make you a basket full of it. And in the fall? They'll make you a corn maze. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: The freshest dang fruit around. And jam. 

Kruger's Farm Market 

7316 N Lombard St., 289-2535; 2310 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 235-0314; Northeast Sandy Boulevard and 52nd Avenue; 

Kruger's is building a tent city. But instead of housing refugees from afar, it's packing in fruit from local farms in beautiful, seasonal variety from watermelon radish to kale in the winter months, and an explosion of fruits as the sun comes out—although this canvas-topped market chain attached to a Sauvie Island farm will still bring in the staples from elsewhere when they're not growing. The low cost of overhead—har, har—is passed on to you, the lucky consumer. It's like the farmer's market that never leaves. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Fruits, veggies, jams, winter greens when it's winter.

Portland Fruit and Produce

8040 SE Foster Road, 777-0072; 10205 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Beaverton, 574-3000;

Portland Fruit and Produce is like the flea market of fruit: a dirt-cheap, all-local vendor's array of massive amounts of seasonal (or just-out-of-season) produce of varying quality depending on the time of year. If you're an attentive shopper, however, and if you hew especially to the always-fresh fruits that fly out of the bins (and squeeze your onions carefully), you can end up with an amazing haul for very little. The original old-time Foster location was remodeled a few years ago, and the Beaverton outpost is just 2 years old. Both stores sport an admirable selection of local fruit-related sundries—from preserves to dried fruit, plus a big display of Dave's Killer Bread and Bob's Red Mill. In the summers and early fall, this place is as good as any farmers market and terrifically cheap, and there's nowhere better for the local apple and pear crop. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Apples and pears, oh my!

Proper Eats

8638 N Lombard St., 445-2007, 

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. LIZ CRAIN.

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

NEW! Rinella Produce

231 SE Alder St., 238-1360,

The painted façade that bears the Rinella Produce name has paint as fresh as the day the inner-Southeast produce wholesaler opened in 1914. Till now they've survived on deliveries to restaurants and grocers from Astoria to Hood River, but they've recently opened their doors—or loading dock, anyway—to the lightweight public. Upon parting the vinyl strips hung to keep the room cool, I found myself in a room half filled with stacked waxy boxes. I was soon joined by an escort, who explained that this is not like other stores. With no-minimum yellow bell peppers, fingerling potatoes and salad greens priced far below neighboring Sheridan Fruit Co.—or most anyone else in town—I have to agree. MITCH LILLIE. 

Shopping list: As much seasonal produce as you can cram in your fridge.

Sheridan Fruit Co.

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

Sheridan's, like Courtney Love long ago, is much prettier on the inside. Though it touts its fruit, the produce section is fairly standard, the "Fruit Co." name a remnant of the neighborhood's importing past. The market shines instead for its meat counter and front-of-shop bulk bins, where you'll find a broad swath of grains, four different forms of almond and  multiple varieties of fig and date. And within the produce section, 15 types of olives can be bought by the ounce. The butcher shop and deli, though, is an unbridled treasure, with an array of housemade sausages that seemingly does not end. With linguisa, kielbasa, chorizo, landjaeger, elk, banger and more, if you can name it, they've made a sausage out of it. Ask the butcher about where they get their goats: He knows just where the farmer lives, in Maupin. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Sausage, bulk grains, bulk nuts, bulk olives, fruit, Garry's Meadow milk.

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