Stopping by the supermarket, especially near dinnertime, can be a pulverizing affair: variety itself can be an embarrassment of riches. Everyday groceterias are well and fine for everyday needs, but consider upping your scales and frequenting boutique establishments that specialize in certain foods and food styles. Prices aren’t always higher, and quality is (usually) assured. Here, five of Calgary’s finest.
Bite Groceteria & Caffè
Bite specializes in exotic meats, cheeses, and many hard-to-find fresh, local and imported ingredients used by top chefs all over the city. From its cramped Inglewood location, the grocertia assists amateur chefs in discovering the professional edge, and more importantly, will show you the physical location of the items you seek — the place is most often crammed to the ceiling with stock. 1212 9 Ave. S.E., 403-263-3966
Anything found at the locally cherished Mercato restaurant can be recreated at home using items from the adjoining Mercato market; it’s like a delicious Italian snake eating its own tail. Among many wonderful items to be found here: Mercato’s fresh organic pasta (handmade each morning), exclusive olive oil flown in from Calabria, and fully assembled dishes like their veal marsala (just slide in the oven and you’re good). Make a point of grabbing one of owner Mamma Cathy’s famous Italian doughnuts for dessert. 2224 4 St. S.W., 403-263-5535
The Mediterranean food lover’s paradise, Kalamata carries — as its name would suggest — a superior selection of olives, baklava, Greek spices, and some incredible fetas, kasseris, and mizithras. Kalamata stocks a wealth of not just rare (for Calgary) European foods: also to be found here is worldly foodie wealth, like the fresh array of Afghani and Ethiopian-style naan breads. 1421 11 St. S.W., 403-244-0220
Sunnyside Natural Market
A communal experience as much as it is a market, Sunnyside has been bringing the best local and organic produce, meat, and dairy to the Kensington area since 1997. Through several owners, the mission has remained the same: to provide customers with the knowledge and piece-of-mind that comes with knowing where their food is coming from. Anyone still shuddering from Food Inc. or Eating Animals, or just wanting to eat better this year, would be well advised to start at Sunnyside Natural Market. #10 338 10 St. N.W., 403-270-7477
Arirang Oriental Food Store
If you’re looking to make the perfect kim-chi but don’t speak fluent Korean, Arirang’s English-translated isles will be a godsend. Its downtown location is also handy if you don’t have time to visit Chinatown on your way home from work. And the Asian market (specializing in Korean and Japanese cuisine) has a butcher on-site, slicing up authentic cuts of meat and poultry. 1324 10 Ave. S.W., 403-228-0980
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