Home cooks in Vancouver are blessed with an array of stores and local markets selling fresh produce, essential pantry staples, and specialized ingredients.
However, with so many market places offering an abundance of food stuffs knowing where to look for specific things can be a tad overwhelming. To help locate the city’s best food shops we turned to Vancouver-based recipe developer, food photographer, and food writer Jennifer Pallian of the blog Foodess.com and asked her to curate her list of her picks for where to find the best grocery stores for home cooks in Vancouver.
We asked Pallian what her top tips were for hunting down great ingredients in Vancouver Pallian explains:
Source local first, whenever possible. Especially for fruit and vegetables — the less time it has to spend in travel, the riper it can be at picking, and the better tasting it will be. It’ll serve you well to get to know a local farmer at the market, and find a great butcher, fish shop, and baker in your neighbourhood to get the freshest goods and expert tips. When in doubt, hit Granville Island, you can find pretty much everything there. You’ll just have to deal with the crowds!
We also asked Pallian what her essential pantry staples consist of. She tells us:
I always have dried beans, grains (quinoa, oats, whole wheat couscous, and so on), Asian noodles and pasta in different shapes, different kinds of beans and rice, baking supplies, nuts, and dried fruit on hand. We are a multi-cultural family, so our staples include a cupboard full of Indian and Middle Eastern spices, too.
Here are the best Vancouver grocery stores if you love to cook, as selected by Jennifer Pallian of Foodess.com, along with why she thinks they are worth visiting and the kinds of ingredients that are available in each store.
“This shop on Main Street is stocked with hard-to-find Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ingredients. Plus they have an excellent butcher with lots of fresh options for lamb. Parthenon in Kits is your second option for similar fare.”
Address: 4323 Main Street
“They have a huge variety of fruit and vegetables at peak ripeness, with tons of local options in season, all at rock bottom prices. Young Brothers Produce has an especially good selection of Asian vegetables. I am reluctant to share this one, because I’d like to keep it to myself. It’s cash only, so hit the ATM first.”
Address: 3151 West Broadway
“I still call this place Dan-D Market, even though they changed their name sometime ago. Like their previous name suggests, they sell tons of Dan-D Pak brand products. Shoppers will find every dried fruit and nut they could ever hope for, as well as grains, beans, baking ingredients, health foods, and more. The store also features a great bulk foods section.”
Address: 2696 West Broadway
“A hidden gem off the beaten track on Granville Island, this shop has the best shellfish with the best prices, which is great news for people who are die-hard seafood lovers like me. When spot prawns come in season, this is the place to buy them. (Just don’t tell too many people, please!) Their quality and freshness is excellent, and I’ve spied some of the city’s top chefs in there shopping.”
Address: 1807 Mast Tower Road
“In the summer, you can find a market almost any day of the week, and they are hands-down the best place to buy peak-season local and organic produce. I am obsessed. In the winter, there’s only one open (Nat Bailey Stadium), but it’s worth the trek even if it’s not close to you. In June, be prepared for the sweetest, reddest strawberries you’ve ever eaten.”
Address: There are several Farmers’ Markets in Vancouver. Check our 2016 guide here.
“Okay, I know you’re raising an eyebrow, but seriously they have a truly excellent selection of international foods, anything you want from anywhere in the world is probably within their walls. I buy ghee, Indian spices, dried beans, banana leaves, curry leaves, lime leaves, fish sauce (by the litre), and kimchi — things that can be painful to source elsewhere, and they’re all at really good prices. Stock up on Thai coconut milk and Vietnamese sweetened condensed milk for about a dollar a can, and huge tubs of tahini for a few bucks.”
Address: No Frills has multiple locations (please check website) / Superstore has multiple locations (please check website)
“This online food delivery service has curated an excellent selection of products. You could easily do your whole weekly shop online and have it arrive at your front door. They have lots of organic produce (which is probably what they’re best known for), but also sell a great selection of high-quality meats, breads from great bakeries, dairy from local dairy farms, and lots of specialty foods and pantry staples. A top choice for convenience if you’re busy. However, if you do have time and prefer perusing stocked shelves check out Be Fresh Local Market in Kits, it is SPUD’s first brick and mortar location.”
“I know this is another mainstream name, but as a big-time ingredient list reader, what I love so much about them is that they scrutinize food labels for me and only let in the good stuff. They have a huge list of ingredients they won’t let through their doors, which gives me peace of mind about what I’m buying. Their organic produce selection is, of course, unbeatable, and you can find pretty much any trendy ingredient you need from this month’s Bon Appetit. It’s an unrivaled mecca for foodies and health nuts alike.”
Address: Multiple locations (please check website)
“With over 1000 items in their bulk section, if you want it, they probably have it. Famous Foods offers a vast array of international products (I have found Mexican cheeses I’ve never seen elsewhere), plus an enormous selection of dried herbs and spices. There’s lots of great quality natural, whole-food pantry staples, too, in addition to fresh produce, dairy, deli, and ethically-sourced meats.”
Address: 1595 Kingsway Street
“Hit up Fujiya for every Japanese ingredient you could ever hope for. You’ll find products like seasonings and sauces, crackers, noodles, and more.”
Address: Multiple locations (check website)
“The Punjab Food Centre contains every single obscure Indian spice, tool, or ingredient, a home cook could possibly want, including frozen freshly grated coconut.”
Address: 6635 Main Street