Best Food Shops in New York City

Julie Besonen

For those who live to eat, not just eat to live, NYC is a food shopping paradise. All over the City, uncommon markets sell local goods and hard-to-find, international delicacies. Italian-food fans flock to Eataly, which sells everything under the Tuscan sun, in the Flatiron District and at the World Trade Center. Our collection of distinctive stores will guide you to the best cheese, lox, chocolate, chutneys, spices, preserves and pickles in town—surefire hits as gifts for others or yourself.

Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Photo: Christopher Postlewaite

Arthur Avenue Retail Market
This emporium of old-school vendors sits in the center of the Bronx’s Little Italy. Cheese, beer, pork and pizza aromas mingle with the smell of tobacco from cigars hand-rolled on the premises. There’s also imported pasta and olive oil, just-pulled mozzarella, fresh produce and knockout sandwiches like the Raging Bull (courtesy of Mike’s Deli), stuffed with hot soppressata and sharp provolone. Claim a table and let the feast begin.

Bangkok Center Grocery
Down a hidden, inclined alley in Chinatown is a tidy Thai grocer with esoteric ingredients. Aisles hold spicy sriracha sticks, glass noodles, sambal paste, palm sugar and a wide selection of soy sauce and fish sauce. They also stock hard-to-find perishables like Thai basil, holy basil, lemongrass, turmeric root, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and Isaan sausage. The space is so compact it’s amazing how much it holds, and the engaging owners are happy to share cooking tips.

Despaña. Photo: Phil Kline

Despaña
This Soho emporium stocks Spanish chorizo, cheese, olive oil, sherry vinegar, Marcona almonds, quince paste, rice for paella and high-quality jarred tuna. They also dispense many free samples. Enjoy prepared tapas and rustic bocadillos too at communal tables in back along with a bottle of albariño or tempranillo from Despaña’s wine shop next door—or bring ingredients home to recreate a favorite meal from your trip to Spain.

Di Palo's. Photo: Will Steacy

Di Palo’s Fine Foods
Take a ticket upon entering Di Palo’s, family operated in Manhattan’s Little Italy since 1925. Until your number is called, browse shelves of balsamic vinegar from Modena, artisanal arborio rice, hearty sauces, biscotti and ever-changing selections of pasta. The wait isn’t bad during off-hours, but on weekends it’s challenging. All angst vanishes when you step up to the counter and sample the cheese and salami you’ve been ogling.

Kalustyan’s
Kalustyan’s is a wonderland of lentils, lavash, Middle Eastern and Indian spices, chutneys, pickled hot peppers, ghee, exotic bitters, couscous, Lebanese tea and fresh roasted nuts from afar. Wander the aisles and discover ingredients you never knew you needed, or even knew existed. Upstairs, there’s a café with an inexpensive buffet featuring spreads, sandwiches and vegetarian stews. Fun fact: the brownstone also happens to be where Chester Arthur resided and was sworn in as president in 1881.

Russ & Daughters
This Lower East Side treasure sells what some say is the best smoked salmon, lox, sturgeon and herring in the world. The white-tiled venue is quintessential New York. Joel Russ, an Eastern European immigrant, manned a pushcart in the early 1900s before founding the brick-and-mortar store he eventually entrusted to his three daughters. Now run by the family’s fourth generation, the flagship shop is busier than ever, as blissful for a bagel and a schmear as it is for caviar.

Sahadi's. Photo: Myrna Suarez

Sahadi’s
Sahadi’s is a wholesaler and retailer, so prices at this Brooklyn grocer are as fair as it gets. The Middle East takes center stage, but other aisles feature ingredients from down the road (as well as French villages across the Atlantic). Try samples of cheese from around the world, and check out bins of olives, barrels of coffee beans and myriad grains, nuts and candy, all sold in bulk.

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Saxelby Cheesemongers. Photo: Christine Han

Saxelby Cheesemongers
Anne Saxelby is a leading American cheese expert, shepherding small-scale, undiscovered dairy delights to the public. Her pint-size stall at the Lower East Side’s Essex Street Market stocks all manner of cow, sheep, goat, soft, hard and blue cheese, plus thick, rich yogurt and farmstead butter. She also curates cheese programs at some of NYC’s top restaurants, and expanded to Chelsea Market in 2017 with a stand on the lower level.

Courtesy, Staubitz Market

Staubitz Market
Open since 1917, Staubitz is still the go-to butcher in Brooklyn. A visit is your chance to get prime beef, pork, poultry and game in a spotless, old-fashioned setting, sliced and trimmed by a crew that is not shy with advice. Grass fed, grain fed, dry aged, heritage breeds—virtually every type of meat, plus a hefty cheese selection, is available. Its shelves hold all manner of rubs, spices, condiments, preserves and sauces—many of them made locally.

Stinky Bklyn. Photo: Malcolm Brown

Stinky Bklyn
This smart, cheerful Brooklyn shop has, as you might surmise, a great cheese selection—but it also carries a lot of other specialty goodies. Husband-and-wife owners Patrick Watson and Michele Pravda have rounded up idiosyncratic, tasty finds like Italian cream of pistachio butter and locally made pickles, chocolate, coffee, granola and bloody mary mix. Additional highlights include pimento cheese spread, maple-bacon peanuts, great charcuterie and mind-blowing brown butter Rice Krispies treats.


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