Posted by: b44hanson | February 12, 2009

Market Ramblings

A part of the adjustment required when making a significant move is learning the local grocery shopping topography. My shopping map of Phoenix consisted of: Fry’s (which I believe is affiliated with Fred Meyer up here in Seattle) for my weekly staples and their meat sales, AJ’s Fine Foods (owned by local chain Bashas) for high end gourmet products (typically as needed and for a particular recipe), Trader Joes for reasonable prices on a more eclectic mix of products than Fry’s and finally Lee Lees Oriental supermarket to fill out the hard to find Asian products for the pantry.

Here is what I have been able to learn in my roughly month and a half here in the Northwest. Keep in mind, although this blog is dedicated to the Seattle area scene, I live on the Kitsap penninsula (roughly an hour ferry ride or car drive away from downtown Seattle), so my perspective is slanted by proximity to my abode.

Weekly Super Markets: Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons, Central Market and QFC. First I will just check off  Albertsons because I always felt like they were overpriced when I shopped them in both NorCal and AZ. Toss QFC out. I went there this week for the first time and got the double whammy, terrible selection and high prices! Fred Meyer probably has the best prices, but I find the selection on various items a bit lacking (especially ethnic). Safeway also has good prices and a decent selection, but their produce section is weak. Central Market has by far the best selection in every category, but you pay for it. So for now my strategy in the Weekly Super Market space is Safeway for weekly kind of shopping and heading to Poulsbo and Central Market when I need a better selection.

Gourmet/High End: I think my strategy would be different if I lived closer to either one (they are both about a half hour drive for me), but for now I think I will head to Trader Joes in Tacoma for my shopping for things I can’t find at Safeway or items where Joes gives me a better selection (like cheeses and coffees). I will head to Central Market for specific menu/recipe items, that I wouldn’t expect to find at the smaller Trader Joes or at Safeway.

Asian Market: Uwajimaya in Seattle’s International District as a very good Asian market. It is a little smaller in size then Lee Lee’s and may not have as big of a selection of products, but it does a very fine job none the less. The problem for me is that I either need to make the roughly hour drive (each way) on the weekend to do any significant shopping or go on my lunch hour and only get what I can carry back on the ferry.

I am sure as I learn the area better and continue to seek out different shopping options I will end up with a map that will have many options.




  1. I linked here from Chowhound. Welcome to Washington! I live on the Kitsap Peninsula as well, ferrying in to Seattle daily for work. I’ve faced the same challenges and largely have reached the same conclusions about stores closer to home. I’ve taken to keeping a large shopping bag in my work bag for lunch shopping trips and occasional trips after work (and then take a later than normal ferry). The QFC in Gig Harbor is pretty nice, and the Metropolitan Market in Tacoma is another good option for higher-end stuff (though you’ll pay more, too). Have you discovered Tacoma Boys yet? It’s just off of Hwy 16 and is usually a good source of produce. There’s a great Korean market off of South Tacoma Way, too, though I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me. I’ll post again when/if I come up with the name.

    • Katie,

      Thanks for the info. I did have someone tell me about Tacoma Boys, but I haven’t been yet. I will make a point of going there, maybe on my next trip to Trader Joes. Based on my experience with QFC in Bremerton, your feedback on the one in Gig Harbor surprises me, but I will check it out.


  2. If you are heading down to Uwajimaya, Viet Wah is a cheaper alternative for a lot of Asian items and produce. PFI is also in that area, great for Mediterranean and bulk items. Not sure how close any of the PCC Natural Markets are to you but they are also a good source for bulk items and usually cheaper than Central.

    I’ll be added some additional market info to my site over the next few weeks so if you find yourself hankering for something you haven’t found yet, check it out.

    BTW, also former Phxer, my routine was Safeway, TJ’s and Wild Oats. 🙂 I was sad to see WO no longer exists…

  3. Leslie,

    Thanks for the tips I will check out Viet Wah.


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