Grocery shopping in NYC isn’t typically a particularly pleasant experience. Not only does the walk from the butcher’s counter to the spice rack feel like an episode of Amazing Race, but once you get there, whatever you’re looking for is often nowhere to be found. Instead of Googling substitutes for ras el hanout, or settling for a different dried chile than your recipe calls for, head to one of the spots on this guide. You’ll find incredibly extensive selections of supplies ranging from maple and baobab syrups, to aphrodisiac teas. So whether you have a recipe that requires a dozen types of mushrooms, or you want to construct a charcuterie plate to end all charcuterie plates, the specialty grocery stores on this guide have you covered.
If you’re someone who makes do with Fairway by going all Professor Snape on the spice aisle, then Kalustyan’s will be your new favorite market in Manhattan. This specialty grocery store near Madison Square Park sells a massive array of Indian and Middle Eastern herbs and spices. Their selection is so deep in categories ranging from breads and sauces, to desserts and teas, that exploring any one in particular feels like the real-life version of an infinite scroll.
In case you’re in the business of acquiring fresh, halal meat, you should know about this butcher and grocery store in College Point, Queens. The back of the shop is dedicated to the butcher section, where you’ll see plump goat legs for sale and a cleaver who is no friend to the goat. Even if you’re just looking for a well-priced sack of rice and a box of medjool dates, you’ll find everything you need at Shan (and probably a lot more).
Sariling Atin is first and foremost a Filipino grocery store - but there’s also a cafeteria-style counter in the back with simmering mung bean stews, pancit noodles, and crispy lechon kawali. We suggest getting a combo meal, which costs between $5-$11 and comes with your choice of one-to-three entrees plus a side of rice or noodles. Focus on the rich pork adobo to-go, or hang out in their designated dining area. Either way, make sure you pick up some Filipino snacks like Ding Dongs or Squidees on your way out.
You can get a sense for the diversity of Brazilian cuisine by going to any of the spots on our Best Brazilian Restaurants Guide, but for the full picture, you should head to Rio Market in Astoria. This huge grocery store sells everything from frozen acai and pao de queijo, to DIY feijoada kits and cuts of cupim (beef hump of a Zebu cattle). In the event that you’d rather let the experts do the cooking, check out the all-day restaurant inside, where you can get a phenomenal misto quente sanduiche or a big platter of picanha with rice and farofa.
The original Sahadi’s location on Atlantic Avenue has been a long-standing Brooklyn institution for decades. In 2019, the team opened a second spot at Industry City which made us instantly jealous of everyone we know who lives in Sunset Park. But the truth is, no matter where you live, we’re all lucky to have Sahadi’s. So go ahead and find the nearest CVS, buy a few nice cards, and send them to Sahadi’s. Once you’re done, stop by this Middle Eastern grocery store for some fresh hummus, a few slices of halvah, or a wrap filled with grilled halloumi. The newer location is about the size of a discount warehouse upstate, and it even has a small wine bar where you can take a break if you get tired shopping.
It’s possible you’ve walked past Holyland Market’s blue awning on St. Marks and assumed it was just another bodega where people buy Brooklyn Brewery six packs. But in reality, this is a kosher goods store with everything from frozen malawah dough to bambas and hard-to-find Israeli snacks. If you’re ever hosting passover seder in your apartment, Holyland Market is a great one-stop-shop. Make sure to grab a box of Kariot cereal while you’re there. It’s similar to Oreo-O’s, but each cookie piece is filled with cream and it tastes about 40 times better than the janky cereal of our American youth.
The world of hot sauce is much, much larger than the handful of choices you’ve put on omelettes at brunch spots. For proof, head to Heatonist in Williamsburg. Talk to the staff about Trinidad Scorpion versus Carolina Reaper peppers, or just ask them which one will make for the most hilarious/uncomfortable experience.
Maybe you want to discuss how different types of caves impact how a cheese ages, or perhaps you just want to know why Swiss cheese has holes. Either way, Murray’s has you covered. Make a reservation for a one-on-one shopping experience at their Greenwich Village location, and a cheesemonger will personally make sure you find what you’re looking for.
Titan Foods is a big grocery store on 31st Street in Astoria where almost everything is imported from Greece. They even have their own feta bar, complete with dozens of cheese hunks the size of square basketballs. Stop by to pick up some fresh kataïfi on your way to a party, or to get a can of giant beans in tomato sauce that needs no additional seasoning whatsoever. Also, Danny Devito shops here sometimes. If it’s good enough for Danny, it’s certainly worth your time.
Whether you want to pick up ingredients for suppu kandja, or you think keeping a few scotch bonnets in your fridge will deter your roommates from midnight raids on your leftovers, check out Adja Khady in Harlem. This wholesale market on 116th Street right in the heart of Le Petit Senegal sells halal meats and fish, as well as Senegalize imports like baobab syrup, spiced coffee grounds, and a whole lot of palm oil.
New York Biltong
Biltong is a kind of South African cured beef that’s usually covered in a dry rub made up of things like vinegar, roasted coriander, and clove. New York Biltong has brought its own grass-fed version of this air-dried meat to the West Village, with its gourmet South African grocery store on Greenwich Avenue. From sausages and meat pies to beers and teas, this place has everything you need to stock your kitchen with South African snacks you probably won’t find at the bodega below your apartment.
You may have heard about Staten Island’s abundance of excellent thin-crust pizza (if you haven’t, check out the best ones here, but you should also know that the borough has one of the highest Sri Lankan populations in the city. Lanka Grocery is right in the middle of Little Sri Lanka, which spans Victory Boulevard and Bay Street. Stop by to stock up some Sri Lankan lemon puffs and pol sambol.
On an average Saturday morning in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, you’ll likely spot a guy on the corner in front of this Caribbean market chopping up fresh soursop with a machete. Next to him, a line of people will form - some of them interested in the prickly green fruit while others wait patiently for things like coconut, mango, or tamarind. Labay Market imports them all, along with a bunch of other fish, vegetables, and spices, straight from the Caribbean. And it’s one of the only places in Brooklyn where you’ll find tropical kitchen staples like breadfruit, eddoe, and sapodilla.
The unicorns at The Cloisters and the water lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie are impressive, but they don’t hold a candle to the “sausage chandelier” at Calabria Pork Store. Different types of cured pork cover the entire ceiling of this Arthur Avenue meat shop in the Bronx, and while it looks like an exhibition, you’re allowed to touch (and eat) the art here. The extremely knowledgeable staff can walk you through the differences between guanciale and pancetta, or recommend cheeses to help you fill out a charcuterie board.
Deluxe Food Market
Chinatown has a bunch of incredible grocery stores, but one of our favorites is Deluxe Food Market. It stretches the length of an entire block, with entrances on both Elizabeth and Mott Streets. While there are a decent amount of packaged goods and sauces here, Deluxe Food Market is best for buying produce. Most of it is inexpensive and fresh, like an entire bag of baby bok choy for less than $1.75. They also have a great butcher counter near the Mott Street entrance.
This Italian grocery store on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is small, and packed with big chunks of parmesan and pecorino, as well as nuts, olive oils, and hanging pork legs. In other words, it smells incredible. So even if you know you’re just here for a jar of mackerel fillets or a box of imported chocolate, pretend to read some pasta labels, and roam around for a while.
Before H Mart came to the East Village, there was Sunrise Mart - a Japanese grocery store on Stuyvesant Street where you could get cookies from Hokkaido, uni, matcha powder, and superior Kit Kats. Now Sunrise Mart has locations all around NYC, including Soho, the East Village, Midtown, and (most recently) a big food hall set-up in Industry City. The Industry City location has its very own tofu counter, as well as a wagyu beef station and tons of fresh fish. Also, the Midtown Sunrise Mart sells a bunch of health and beauty products, which make for excellent gifts.
There are two reasons someone would tell you they know a better spot for smoked fish than Russ & Daughters. First, they’re misinformed, or second, they’re trying to keep the line from stretching around the corner like usual. Pay no attention to this person, and use this Houston Street institution for all of your Jewish appetizing needs. In case you don’t feel like dealing with the lines, order their bagel spreads, caviar, and babka for pickup or delivery through their website.
Eataly is a specialty grocery store in that it sells a big variety of high-quality, small-batch products from specially-sourced producers. It’s not, however, a specialty grocery store in terms of focusing on one, two, or 50 types of goods. Both the Flatiron and FiDi locations of this national mini-chain have multiple football field-sized floors filled with butcher cases of Piedmontese beef, cheese counters full of fresh mozzarella, and various sections for housemade pastas and 100 different types of extra virgin olive oil.
P'Noi Thai Thai Grocery
Right across the street from Khao Kang, one of the best Thai restaurants in NYC, this tiny runway style grocery store has been selling things like uncooked noodles, red curry paste, and houseplants for years. The owner will probably offer to help you find whatever it is you’re looking for, and you should definitely take her up on that. The shelves are usually overflowing with everything from spices to home goods, and unless you speak Thai, you’ll probably have a much harder time scanning each label on your own.
La Boîte Spice Lab
You probably stock your spice cabinet with McCormick’s brand crushed red pepper bottles that once lived a few aisles away from a full-stocked shelf of Cinnamon Toast Crunch boxes - we’re right there with you. But if you ever decide to get more serious about your spices, head to La Boite. This Hell’s Kitchen spice shop sells every spice you could need, plus a bunch of high-quality spice blends, French shortbread cookies they call “biscuits”, and chocolate bars. Right now, the store is only open for online pick-up orders, and since they’re offering free shipping across the U.S. for orders of $40+, you can also send your grandmother in Wisconsin a few bottles of smoked salt and some za’atar.
Need a quick rush of adrenaline in Elmhurst? Walk into this Colombian butcher shop and ask for an arepa or a bowl of sopa de albondigas. There’s no place to sit down, the place smells like fresh meat, and the staff is incredibly friendly. Bring some cash, take in the shimmering chains of sausage links, and have an internal battle about whether or not you should buy every single Colombian snack you see on the shelves.
H Mart is a Korean mega-chain with several locations across the country, including 17 stores in Manhattan, Queens, and East New Jersey alone. These supermarkets typically house a wide selection of produce, dairy, and seasonings, plus some pre-made things like kimchi, banchan, and thinly sliced squid. Whether you’re looking for some new instant noodle brands to try or a few pounds of marinated meat to throw on the grill, H Mart has you covered.
Katagiri Japanese Grocery
We love this Japanese grocery store on Lexington Avenue primarily because of their prepared food counter, Omusubi Gonbei. They sell onigiri filled with things like grilled salmon, shrimp tempura, and pickled plums, and they’re only a few dollars each. The next time you’re in the Bryant Park area or catching a train at Grand Central, check out the shelves of pre-packaged food as well lots of Japanese candy and snacks.