Most chefs will tell you that the key to a great meal is great ingredients. Whether you're just searching for affordable produce, or you're looking to cook an authentic Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, or Indian meal, you should definitely check out these five unique (and often outrageously affordable) grocery stores.
Big John's Pacific Food Importers (PFI). Walking into PFI is like being instantly transported to the East Coast. First though, you have to find it. Tucked in the back of a parking lot in SoDo, you would never guess the amazing delights you're about to see when you enter this unassuming warehouse. You're instantly greeted with concrete floors, bright colors and lots of hustle and bustle. PFI has a massive cheese counter, a great selection of olive oil and vinegar, more spices than you can count, the best olives in the city and an awesome array of dry pastas. If you're cooking for someone who is lactose intolerant, try their goat feta in your next salad. The staff at PFI are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful, but you do have to follow the rules; line up at the cheese counter to pay even if you're not buying cheese. You can also check out their website for incredible recipes like Salt Cod and Potato Spread and Big John's Meat Sauce for Spaghetti.
1001 6th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98134
Rising Produce. Rising Produce is the best place in Seattle to find cheap produce. You will often pay half or even a third what you would pay at other grocery stores. The last time I was there I spent nine dollars and got a pint of strawberries, two avocadoes, three bunches of spinach, two bunches of green onions, a yellow onion, fried tofu, a red bell pepper and two serrano peppers. You should definitely buy their pea vines if they've got any available and stir fry them with some oil and garlic.
1003 S King St
Seattle, WA 98104
Neighborhood: International District
DK Market. I could spend all day in DK Market. It feels and sounds like an open-air market in a foreign country, with a bunch of different vendors, types of food, smells and colors. Except, of course, it's in a warehouse in Renton. The produce is fresh and cheap. You can find massive cans of Greek olive oil for less than twenty bucks. There are tons of pickled Polish delights. The last time I was there I ate a Russian pastry, bought delicious coffee for $1.99 a bag and found Afghani flatbread almost as tall as me.
720 Lind Ave SW
Renton, WA 98057
R&M Grocery and Video. If you are buying your Indian spices at a regular grocery store, you're likely paying more than triple than if you bought them at R&M Grocery. If you stop by this family-owned business for spices, make sure to also buy a pack of papadums. The crunchy snacks are great with any of the chutneys you can find in the colorful aisles. One of the most charming things about R&M Grocery is that it's also a video store. There is a small selection of Bollywood movies you can either rent or buy.
5501 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
Neighborhood: University District
Borracchini's Bakery. Borracchini's opened in 1922 and is Seattle's historic Italian bakery. They make beautiful and lavish cakes filled with rum, cappuccino and mocha frostings. In the store, you can also find cheese, meats and deep fried croissants, so don't expect to stick to your diet.
2307 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144
Neighborhood: Beacon Hill