Certain foods have more nuances than others, and for this reason, specialty food stores sort through all possible variants to find a specific taste. There is more to cheese and salt that meets the eye. Different regions produce different variations of the very same product, which make them taste incredibly distinct. Here, we list the top ten specialty food stores in Lower Manhattan that will help you better identify your favorite foods.
Himalayan Rock Salt | Image Courtesy of The Meadow
Specializing in artisan salt, chocolate, bitters and more, The Meadow celebrates tabletop essentials with a personal flair. Located in the West Village, customers are welcomed into an aromatic space filled with handpicked flowers and unique products where they are encouraged to learn about the culture and chemistry of their food.
This fourth generation family business, currently run by Lou Di Palo, brings the taste of Italy to the streets of New York. Di Palo’s is both a neighborhood favorite and a tourist destination. Stop by for a chat with one of the Di Palo family members and ask them about their cheeses, pasta, olive oil and more. Don’t forget to go to their wine store next door where they house exclusively Italian wines and often hold tastings.
Pintxo of Slices of Serrano Ham and Manchego Cheese | Courtesy of Despaña
At Murray’s, you can find almost anything that goes well with a glass of wine – cheese, meat, nuts, olives, breads, spreads, chocolate and more. Located on the west side of busy Bleecker street, come down over the weekend when there is always a street fair and live music. Enjoy one of their famous melts, take an in-house class on a specialty food or just stop by for one their delicious samples of the food pairing of the month.
Russ & Daughters Image | Courtesy of Russ & Daughters
Originally set up in Queens in 1971, Despaña added another location in 2006 in Soho to spread the word about their signature Spanish food. They used to serve only the food industry but have now, thankfully, opened up to the general public. Their store has an eat-in café as well as a retail shop. They serve fresh tortillas, tapas, wine, chocolate and other fine foods as well as hold weekly tastings and events.
Since 1914, generations of the Russ family have made Russ & Daughers an institution. Known for having the highest quality smoked fish and caviar, this shop and café know how to make a bagel and lox the right way – with extra cream cheese and only the freshest fish. As one of the last standing ‘appetizing shops‘, this is a must see in the historic Lower East Side.
One of the few all-natural markets in New York, Life Thyme has shelf-stocked goods, an organic juice bar and a vegan bakery all in one convenient Greenwich Village store. Having successfully fueled busy city-goers with healthy food for the past 20 years, this shop continues to be a staple in the neighborhood as well as for those just passing through.
Everything you thought you knew about Japanese food will change once you visit Sunrise Mart. The shelves of green tea snacks and variations on wasabi mayo will keep you intrigued, and the prices are hard to beat too. They also have fresh sushi, sashimi, bento boxes and soup with a few tables by the window where you can watch the rest of Soho walk by as they completely miss out on this gem of a store.
As the only existing pickle store left on Essex Street, The Pickle Guys proudly offer up all things pickled, not just pickles. They have a variety of actual pickles and gherkins, and then also have pickled tomatoes, olives, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, celery and much, much more. They occasionally add in seasonal items like pickled pineapple or pickled turnip, but it is up to you to pay them a visit and find out what’s new.
It’s hard for any New Yorker not to know Amy’s Bread, but just in case you missed the memo, Amy’s knows how to do bread. The café has seating where you can enjoy one of their delicious homemade pastries with a coffee or just pass by to get a loaf of traditional hearth-baked bread with infusions like rosemary and sage. Their specials vary from month to month, and their dinner rolls are out of this world.
It wouldn’t be specialty foods without mentioning Chelsea Market, home to many unique food stores. Dickson’s Farmstand, located inside the market, sells hand-selected artisanal meat and meat products. Their natural, ethical and organic products are what makes them distinct, and all meats are sourced from local farms. They can tell you the farm and farmer that each slice of meat came from to ensure the highest quality products.