Take your next home-cooked meal from ordinary to extraordinary. Specialty and gourmet grocery stores offer a variety of foods and products that are both high quality and fresh. From Italian shops to Asian groceries, these stores are perfect for finding cuts of meat, unusual cheeses and exotic spices that cannot be found in your average grocery store, so if you’re planning a romantic dinner for two or a cultural evening in with friends, take a look at this list and head on out.
Eataly is an Italian-food paradise. This megastore is divided up into different sections, much like your average grocery store. It has everything from fresh produce to seafood and meats, but don’t miss the massive pasta section in the back, where you’ll find freshly made pasta such as mafalda and paccheri. There is also a wide selection of olive oils and vinegars to help you put together that perfect appetizer. Plus, if all the eye-catching produce starts making your stomach rumble, grab a seat at one of the many themed in-house restaurants.
Sahadi’s, a huge Middle Eastern grocery store spanning three storefronts in Brooklyn Heights, serves as an unparalleled space to find Middle Eastern ingredients, which makes sense: the neighborhood has a long history as an immigrant enclave. Here, the bulk-goods section is the main draw, offering a diverse selection of dried fruits, nuts, flours, candies and more. Unlike at many groceries, the bulk section is not self-serve; instead, customers take a ticket to be helped by grocers.
Need a place to buy a quick appetizer? Murray’s Cheese Shop is the perfect spot to find a great selection of cheeses, meats and other delicacies. The shop also offers other artisanal items, including butters, oils, olives and more. There’s a ready-to-eat selection as well, so if you’re feeling peckish, grab a BBLT (burrata, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich) or a tomato tart.
Looking to try your hand at cooking an Asian dish? This Chinatown shop specializes in pan-Asian ingredients, replete with hard-to-find products that’ll take your cooking up a notch. It offers fresh produce from all over Asia, including Filipino purple yams, Korean wakame (seaweed) and bok choy sprouts. Chefs across the city rely heavily on Asia Market Corp to fill out their menus.
Russ and Daughters is the Lower East Side’s king of smoked salmon. The store’s fourth-generation owners offer an enormous selection of bright-pink cured fish, baskets of soft bagels and sides like house-made soups and latkes. Grab a ticket when you walk in and patiently wait with the crowds until your number is called.
Since 1895, this small shop has been providing New Yorkers with coffee beans and loose-leaf tea. It’s a haven for coffee addicts. Opening the door to McNulty’s can be an assault on the olfactory sense as the shop is packed tight and smells potently of ground coffee beans. Its coffee is organized by region, allowing coffee drinkers the opportunity to discover a new favorite bean.
Despite the number of West African immigrants in New York City, West African ingredients can be hard to find. Adja Khady Food Distributor sits in the heart of Little Senegal in West Harlem. The shop focuses on African imports but also sells its own wholesale food items across the country, such as peanut powder and couscous. Much of the focus is on Senegalese products, but Adja Khady also flaunts sauces, teas, dried fruit and grains from across Africa.
Having a local butcher seems somewhat antiquated in the days of big grocery stores, but Lobel’s will make you reconsider. This local, family-owned and -operated meat shop first opened its doors back in 1954. It has kept its picturesque, vintage atmosphere: the men behind the counter wear white aprons, and there are animal figureheads on the walls and a glossy wooden interior. Try anything from duck to lamb, and definitely be sure to get the filet mignon for a splashy evening meal.
Originally opened in 1944, this Indian shop used to serve a mostly Armenian neighborhood but has since been able to expand its offerings. Kalustyan’s presence helped give this neighborhood the nickname ‘Curry Hill’ in the 1960s and ’70s. Here you’ll find aisles and aisles of spices like turmeric and roasted curry powder, grains like pink rice and pearled couscous and a wide breadth of hot sauces and chutneys.
Take your cooking to the next level with spices from La Boîte. Chef Lior Lev Sercarz runs the shop, selling his own spice blends with flavors from around the world. The spice mixes are named with mysterious numbers, so be sure to talk to the experts at this shop who can advise you with recipes and tips to help your dishes stand out, such as their blend Lula N.41 for your potatoes au gratin or Ayala N.16 aioli to help your chicken wings.