07/15/07 10:28 - 71ºF - ID#40118
Buffalo Grocery Review: A'Chau Oriental
This Vietnamese store is located at the east corner of the crossing between Rhode Island Street and Niagara Street. The name A'Chau apparently means "Asia". For those intrigued by the "2" in the store's name - the owner told me that they had (still have?) a branch of the store elsewhere in Buffalo, and that this is the second branch.
A'Chau is primarily a seafood/meat grocery. Those really into seafood should check out this place sometime. There was enough specialty seafood variety on its shelves to make me wonder if they had caught, processed and bagged every creature in the Pacific, the Atlantic and maybe all the local lakes and rivers, put together. The frozen/refrigerated meat section also looked quite extensive. I am not sure what the prices were like, though.
The vegetable section had no less than 26 different varieties of south-east Asian greens (yes, I counted!). (This is a handy guide to greens: ) It also had lemon-grass,thai-basil, mint, galangal and kaffir lime/lime leaves. However, none of the greens were out in boxes, as is common practice in Chinese stores I have been to. They were all packed away in plastic bags and in cold storage. The owner told me that the "fresh-vegetable-day" for the store was Tuesday, and that the "seafood-day" was Friday - when things come in from NYC. That could have explained the refrigerated produce or maybe the store is especially careful about not losing any of the produce due to lack of refrigeration.
The prices for the greens and the rest of the veggies/fruits (Cucumber, Chayote, Green Beans, Onions, Potatoes, Eggplant, Okra, Cabbage, Bitter gourd, green papaya, jackfruit, lichee, tomatoes, (sad-looking) mangoes, apples, watermelon, persimmon etc.) were at par (maybe slightly lower) with say, Wegmans. They are not as low as Guercio's which makes it hard to justify daily grocery shopping here, unless the objective is to cook specifically with those 26 delicious varieties of greens.
I was mildly bothered that the prices were not very prominently displayed and that I had to ask the owner for the price, each time I was interested in anything. He had to take the plastic bags out of the fridge and weigh them on the check-out counter to tell me what the price was. Some bags had price tags stuck on them, but it was difficult to see them well without opening the door of the fridge.
Additional attractions in this store included Shitaké mushrooms and other wild Asian mushrooms (wood-ear/cloud-ear, button, oyster), several different varieties of rice noodles/vermicilli and a million different varieties of stir-frying/cooking sauces, spice-medley-pastes and flavoured oils (I even saw a duck-flavoured sauce specifically for basting spring-rolls).
The store has a shelf of green teas, snacks similar to the ones in any corner grocery store (chips, puffs etc) but labeled in Vietnamese/French, the usual selection of southeast Asian crockery, small strange gifts, exotic snacks, soaps/detergents/cosmetics etc. As a unique touch, they had ornamental (perhaps) traditional swords in black scabbards with filigreed silver trims for about $30 each hanging by the check-out counter.
The two other oriental stores in the vicinity that I had planned on scoping out were either closed or non-existent. The "99 Oriental Food Store" [837 Niagara St, Buffalo, NY 14213] across the street from A'Chau, was boarded-up and locked. As an additional sign of dereliction, its closed glass doors were cracked with what seemed like a mob-stone-attack. The "Buffalo Asian Market" [594 Niagara St, Buffalo, NY 14201] was untraceable. If anyone has had better luck in locating this store, please feel free to add a comment.
I thought the neighbourhood was fairly safe to walk on except for a few people who seemed to think I might have a dollar to spare for them. I might not venture out here after dark though.
Location: Buffalo, NY
07/14/07 10:43 - 66ºF - ID#40110
Buffalo Grocery Review: Wegmans Amherst
I am not sure how many of you have heard about their leviathan branch in Pittsford, NY (for those not familiar with it, here's a review: ), but in my opinion, the Amherst St. Wegmans almost compares to the Pittsford one, and in some instances, is even more spiffy!
I loved the full-scale functional toy train with all the bells and whistles above the bulk candy in the store. The Pittsford leviathan doesn't have anything half as interesting as this! The cheese selection and the hummus/olive selections are as good, if not better and the bread section had some very interesting pita bread - 5 different types of naan! missi roti, low-carb-high-fibre (28%) pita, Markook-Roumali, Kalamata bread; varieties I have never seen at Pittsford. Its possible they were introduced in the last month but its equally possible that they are local to this branch. Plus they had a far wider variety of wegmans, tribe and summer-fresh hummus. (still recommend the ones at Guercio's btw) .
Their bulk food section had the cheapest banana chips (sweetened *and* unsweetened) I have seen; imported from the Philippines and fried in coconut oil. They also had a wide variety of dried fruits, flax seeds and cereal at reasonable prices. So I don't recommend the Lexi Coop for bulk cereal/nuts/dried fruits anymore. This is a much better place to get them.
Their tea selection, though not as extensive as one at Pittsford, is still impressive. They had almost the entire Twinings catalogue there. And they have a fresh Pizza corner.
Spent a couple hours just wandering through the store today and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! Recommended for leisure grocery shopping, if not regular.
Location: Buffalo, NY
07/12/07 10:54 - 71ºF - ID#40090
Buffalo Grocery Review: Lexington Coop
I have been to this grocery about three times now and though I find it to be rather expensive in general, I think it has some very cool stuff on its shelves and some things are reasonably priced.
I would especially recommend it for NOTHING.
I love how this place always has the right kind of scents in every aisle! I wonder how they manage that. In the produce aisle, it smells like fresh tomatoes and sometimes bell peppers. In the cosmetics aisle, it smells earthy and cool - I think it might be the handmade soaps. In the bread aisle, it smells of wheat and cinnamon. In the small kitchen/salad bar, it smells... well, simply delicious. They have lavender soaked cleansing towels near the entrance and it smells great when someone grabs and uses one! You can actually smell the delicate scent of lavender for about 30 metres all around the store.
The prices in the produce/bread section are, as I mentioned before, expensive. I know I might sound like the crabby old lady that (e:zobar) mentioned in his comment, but I just can't bring myself to buy any of the produce or the breads here. They are really fresh and very tempting but the temptation goes out as soon as you see that they are priced a whole $1 - $2 more than the rest of the grocery stores around downtown. As an example, the 160g loaves of Banana-nut, Date-nut, Zucchini-nut bread from a bakery called "Perfectly baked breads and desserts" (?) is $2.50 instead of the $1.50 at which it is sold at Guercio's and in the Elmwood-Bidwell market. I know the store needs to make a profit, but this is almost a 66% increase in price.
I am guessing the store is located in a relatively affluent neighbourhood, so people who buy here do not really need to worry about paying a couple dollars more for each of their groceries. But in the long run, the extra dollars do add up to a sizeable amount.
Not Recommended: For poor graduate students and people who are looking to stretch their dollar.
EDIT: NOT RECOMMENDED FOR ANYONE.
PS: They hiked the price of the orange juice to 2.49/half-gallon. That makes the hike to this store for one single item totally worthless; especially when I can get orange juice at Guercio's for cheaper. Yeah, you heard it Lexi, you can suck that half-gallon orange juice up your nose, you 32% price-hiker, you!!
Location: Buffalo, NY
07/11/07 08:42 - 71ºF - ID#40061
It was great to finally meet you!!
Since this is my new favourite pic...
Thanks once again for all the good things that estrip.org has brought into my life ver2.BuffalO. :)
Location: Buffalo, NY
07/08/07 12:58 - 75ºF - ID#40003
Elmwood-Bidwell "Farmer's Market"
This was a letdown. A huge... no an enormously disappointing one. I know people praise it to the heavens and I went expecting the place to be jam-packed with farmers - and I mean genuine farmers from all across WNY. I went in and had to retrace my steps to see if this was indeed the famed farmer's market. Don't get me wrong. The setting was great. Sunshiny day, fiddlers playing melodies, a live bee apiary and a stall by the Elmwood Village Association promoting the Buffalo Old Home Week. What was missing were farmers. There were approximately 18-20 stalls and about 6 had fresh produce! The produce was shiny and fresh, but the prices were astronomical. I mean $3 for a small head of lettuce is atrocious! I had a sneaking suspicion that the "farmers" were residents from around the park selling stuff from their kitchen gardens. The prices strengthened that suspicion.
Alright, I may be a bit biased. But I am strongly of the opinion that this is not what a farmer's market looks or feels like, having regularly been to a few across the country. A genuine farmer's market is where people can go and buy bulk produce at prices waaaay cheaper than your local supermarket. A farmer's market definitely is not a bunch of elitists selling produce for triple the price of any corner store. If you want to see a real farmer's market, pay a visit to Rochester's Public Market: ( ) on Saturdays. You will know what the competition looks like.
The "farmer's market" at Elmwood & Bidwell won't get any further patronage from me. Thanks to this disgrace, I had one severe episode of heart-breaking nostalgia for Rochester. :(
Location: Buffalo, NY
07/05/07 10:33 - 74ºF - ID#39934
Buffalo Grocery Review: Bills Food Mart
Location: At the southwest corner of the Allen & North Pearl Street crossing, a block away from Main Street.
The best thing about this store is that it seems to have a little bit of everything. However, the "everything" is somewhat haphazardly organized and somewhat dusty at places.
The produce section today had plastic-wrapped lettuce, tomatoes, bananas, potatoes, onions, lemons, limes and some more fruits that I cannot recall very well. Half the produce is in a glass enclosed (maybe chilled?) container to your left as you enter the store and the other half is in sacks further down the 1st aisle to your right. However, the two halves together did not catch my fickle fancy. That said, the prices did seem very reasonable.
This store had a funny feel to it. It seemed like a small store when I entered but like Dr. Who's transcendental Tardis, it expanded and expanded to finally emerge as a rather big store! I crossed aisle after aisle of merchandise, jammed to capacity.
The store has a crowded feel to it and I had to look hard and twice to remember stuff. It had the usual 800 million snacks and a whole wall of sodas, juices etc. In addition, it had milk and a surprising variety of dried lentils/beans. It also had a cheese section, fresh coffee (maybe?.. two coffee machines occupied central pedestals in the store), a meat section, cleaning supplies, toiletries, 1000 million cans of stuff, spices (!), pasta sauces, pickled stuff (cucumber, peppers, olives etc), sandwich components (things in brine/vinegar), half a wall of frozen ready-to-(h)eat food etc.
In spite of my initial impression of haphazardness, I now think there was some method to the madness. The first 2/5th of the store was all edible, the second 1/5th was non-edible supplies, the last 1/5th was drinkable (soda, juice, alcoholic beverages, milk, yogurt etc) or eatable (frozen stuff) and the front 1/5th was cheese, speciality meats, newspapers, cancer-sticks etc
To conclude, I think this store has tons of potential to be something better, with a little organization and a little cleaning. I would consider going here for produce/supply emergencies, however I would also double-check to see if the stuff I bought were well within safe limits of their expiry dates.
Location: Buffalo, NY
07/03/07 10:32 - 75ºF - ID#39903
Buffalo Grocery Review: Guercio & Sons
Since I got off school early today, I decided to make the piligrimage to this famed store and boy, it *deserves* its fame! The produce is varied, rich, high quality and ****CHEAP****!!!
The produce list is really long and would probably come close to the bigger supermarkets (doesn't include lemon grass, galangel and imported passion fruit, but you get the idea...). Highlights included fresh cilantro bunches for 79c each, Tomatoes-on-the-vine for 99c/lb, homegrown zucchini and squash for 79c/lb and farm-fresh romaine lettuce for 99c/HUGE head. This store, to twist the clichéd phrase a bit, bangs your buck and smashes it against the wall in a resounding ricochet.
I sailed into the store 1 hour before closing time (the store is open till 6 PM everyday, except Sundays and holidays) and there was still bread on its shelves. I imagine the bread selection might have been more interesting in the morning, but nothing extraordinary in the evening. The bread shelves had a strong scent of rye-bread, since that was the bread that was least bought. I picked out a whole-wheat pita bread imported from canada and it tastes great!
The Hummus (on the cold shelves to the extreme right wall of the store as you enter) is extraordinary! Its a brand called "Athenos" (http://athenos.com/) and tastes far far far better than the Tribe and other brands available at Tops/Wegmans/Sam's club. The price is a whole $1 less than the varieties at Tops/Wegman's.
I got two varieties today:
-- Spicy three pepper
-- Greek style with Garlic, Lemon & Oregano
Both are mouth-watering. I just had a whole-wheat pita sandwich with the hummus spread loaded with a salad of produce from Guercio's. I am in gastronomical heaven. :)
The store has about 500 million varieties of pasta and a whole wall of cheeses. It also has a sandwich and salad bar, shelves of pasta sauces, many different varieties of rice (slightly expensive), bottled/canned sandwich components eg. olives, banana peppers (in vinegar/brine), a whole range of spices, an Italian version of Indian "curry" powder (hehe ;)), some snacks, Italian sweet snacks, other possibly Italian special stuff (not being Italian, I have no idea where these might be used), curious little knick-knacks, a whole shelf with very fancy-looking fruit preserves ($1.99 each), many different types of teas etc. This is, of course, not a very comprehensive list but I was in a hurry and didn't get to do my usual leisurely stroll-stare in the store. I will add to this post after future visits.
Location: For people walking from downtown, the best way to get to Guercio's would be walk down Elmwood till Lafayette Avenue, turn left and walk down till you reach Grant St, turn right and find Guercio & Sons to the left of the street. Walking down West Ferry and turning into Grant Street is *NOT* recommended. As you might have guessed, I took the non-recommended route while walking to the store. The positive thing that came out of taking the non-recommended route was that I located an interesting looking market at the corner of W. Ferry and Grant (future review?). The somewhat doubtful experience consisted of walking down about 4 blocks of Grant Street which were shuttered, graffiti'ed and crawled with not-so-great characters whom you might not want to meet in a side-street alone. The end of West-Ferry-beginning-Grant-Street is best avoided. However, walking down Lafayette is a nice experience. You might get soaked by a few over-zealous garden sprinklers, but otherwise quite a scenic route.
Guercio & Sons Incorporated: Highly Recommended for daily groceries, arcane Italian stuff, thousand different types of pastas and SPLENDID hummus. Downers: a somewhat sketchy location and a lengthy walk (which is worse with a full load of groceries on your shoulders).
Location: Buffalo, NY
07/03/07 09:15 - 75ºF - ID#39901
Buffalo Grocery Review: Wilson Farms
Buffalo, NY 14222
This store is located in the North-west corner of the Elmwood-Summer crossing. It has a produce section, but its a high-end (read expensive) version of Wegmans/Tops. The variety of produce is quite impressive but the prices are somewhat higher than what you would be comfortable with, on a daily basis. I would rank its price range in between Tops and Lexington Co-op. It has a generic ATM within its premises. The store also retails NFTA Metro Passes, and some odd auto magazines.
Today, this shop had cucumbers, celery, green bell peppers, limes, lemons, strawberries, peaches, watermelons, apples, oranges, lettuce, grapes, mushrooms, radishes, bananas, onions, potatoes and tomatoes.
In addition to the produce, the shop has the usual 100 million snacks, 200 million soda varieties, about 5 million types of frozen foods, fresh coffee, doughnuts and stuff coated with a triple layer of sugar, candies, a whole range of canned food, cold sandwiches, cleaning supplies and brick-brack, fruit juices and a small section of about 15 different cheeses.
Wilson Farms: Probably good for a big produce emergency but not for daily shopping.
Location: Buffalo, NY
07/02/07 11:12 - 65ºF - ID#39891
Buffalo Grocery Review: Main Food Mart
This grocery is located at the South-West corner of Summer and Main Street. Fresh produce sold here is very limited. The ones that I saw today included:
-- Good quality Bananas
These were prominently displayed in a shelf right in front of the entrance to the shop. Prices are reasonable. Probably good for an emergency shop-stop coming out from the metro station at Summer & Best.
The rest of the shop is well-stocked with the usual 100 million snacks, and carbonated drinks. Apart from the eatables, there are cleaning supplies and other miscellaneous brick-brack.
Good for an emergency potato/onion/orange/banana need.
Location: Buffalo, NY
06/15/07 05:14 - 78ºF - ID#39682
Grocery Stores in and around downtown?
Now for the mundane. I am wondering if e-strippers could rack their memories yet again and please tell me about their favourite/casual/not-so-favourite/loathed grocery stores in and around downtown? Where are the major groceries? Where are the Ethnic speciality groceries - the Chinese, the Indian, the Vietnamese, the Korean, the Thai and the mediterranean stores with the fresh produce/spices/sauces? Where is the best hummus in town? Where is the best produce in town?
I cook everyday and I think I might die a slow death without ready access to good groceries and produce markets.
Inputs HUGELY appreciated!!! Thanks! :)
Location: Buffalo, NY
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