21 Specialty Food Shops You Need To Visit In The US

Not long ago, it was hard to come by stores selling specialty ingredients. A few age-old, much-beloved gems in foodie hotspots like New York City have been meeting spots and coveted secrets for decades (more on them later), yet many areas were left underserved. But things are changing; chiefly thanks to zealous and pioneering entrepreneurs, a new era has beckoned the rise of novel specialty stores materializing everywhere from California, Illinois, Texas, and New Jersey.

The term "specialty store" can mean anything from a shop concentrating on a particular cuisine, to focusing on one type of ingredient, or stocking all-organic, non-GMO, all-natural products. Current conversations centered around food inclusivity, accessibility, sustainability, and zero-waste food all point us one way. Supporting small, local businesses, which subsequently often focus on small-batch producers, local farms, and sustaining traditional practices, is where it's at.

For the consumer, exploring specialist stores can offer a way to widen our palates and explore new foods — stumbling upon a hidden gem stacked with unknown ingredients is an inspiring experience. Moreover, for those who miss their home away from the U.S., it's comforting, reassuring, and community-building. We've compiled a list of must-visit specialty stores in the U.S., ranging from popcorn experts, Asian grocery store conglomerates, historic emporiums, and curated organic fresh produce. How many do you think you've yet to explore?


The push for organic, non-GMO, local, sustainable, and seasonal food is increasingly widespread. It's easy to mistake the dialogue for a modern millennial take — however, Erewhon, a trendy gourmet grocery store with 10 stores across the LA area (to date), has been supplying residents with organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts since the 1960s. The couple behind Erewhon, who are true pioneers of the specialty food market in North America, actively promoted macrobiotics and natural foods, beginning a domino effect across the country.

Since its inception, Erewhon has undergone considerable changes; while its first location may have been a basement in Massachusetts, the stores in sunny LA are impressively large, airy, and beautifully stocked. Head to one of its stores for vibrant salads, celebrity-endorsed protein-packed smoothies, gluten-free essentials, and more. Just prepare to drop a pretty penny; of all the grocery stores in LA, Erewhon is one of the least affordable.

Formaggio Kitchen

Are you looking for an obscure cheese found only in the foothills of Southern France? If so, head over to Formaggio Kitchen, a moniker meaning "Cheese Kitchen" in Italian. The specialist cheesemonger provides well-loved classics like Stilton and Parmigiano Reggiano, in addition to obscure cheeses that are unlikely to be found in your local grocery store.

To amass the store's collection, the owner of Formaggio Kitchen, Julia Hallman, travels with her small team around Europe, exploring dairies and cheesemakers to source the best artisan cheeses. Shelves elsewhere in the store stock a curated collection of wine, preserves, antipasti, and cured meats ideal for building a charcuterie board. If you aren't local to any of Formaggio Kitchen's stores in Boston, Cambridge, Kendall, or N.Y.C., the shop offers a monthly cheese subscription delivery service or a virtual tasting experience.


We'd be lying if we didn't say that New York City is a treasure trove of specialist shops. Amongst the finest is Zabar's, a family-run business spanning the block front at the heart of the Upper West Side, Broadway. What started as a modest venture in 1934 has evolved into a New York institution frequented by multiple generations who sought within Zabar's a home away from home. The store is enormous — overwhelmingly so, at first — and covers every kind of food you could desire, from seafood, olives, coffee, and preserves.

Zabar's is especially renowned for its Jewish deli products, including pastrami, brisket, matzoh, latkes, and blintzes. Choose between countless bakery favorites such as rugelach, babka, halvah, challah, or Kosher bagels on your way out.

Patel Brothers

When two brothers bought a small Indian grocery store in an overlooked area of Chicago, they could have never imagined the opportunities that awaited them. It was 1974, and soon an influx of Indian immigrants would demand access to products that were hard to find in the U.S.; rice varieties suitable for biryani recipes and dosa, Alphonso mangoes, authentic pickles, and, of course, aisles of spices.

Since that day nearly 50 years ago, Patel Brothers (colloquially known as Patel Bros) has grown into America's largest grocery chain selling South Asian produce, totaling over 54 stores. The stores are large and mainly focused around the East Coast — although foodies on the West Coast can find a lone store in Santa Clara or the suburbs of Phoenix. It's well worth making a trip for regional Indian ingredients, dry fruits, and packaged snack items.


It probably wouldn't surprise you to know that Italian food is the third most popular cuisine in the U.S., beaten only by Mexican and Chinese, respectively, reports Statista. Nevertheless, as with every other cuisine, it can be hard to find specialist ingredients in the U.S. Enter Eataly, a brand specializing in high-quality Italian ingredients for everyone to cook the meals of their dreams.

Eataly is a global affair, with locations across Europe, North America, and Asia. The U.S. alone boasts eight huge stores (N.Y.C., Chicago, Boston, LA, Las Vegas, Dallas, and Silicon Valley) piled high with pasta, condiments, oils, and specialist flours. Uniquely, you can not only purchase but also witness the process of freshly made mozzarella and burrata. A pasta counter shows staff crafting intricate traditional shapes (which you can buy fresh or dried), while a bakery offers countless varieties of wood-fired bread. Additionally, on-site butchers, a seafood area, and a large selection of seasonal vegetables make Eataly a must-visit one-stop shop for Italian food lovers. Grab some freshly made cannoli on the way out — it made our list for the best spot in NYC.

Bristol Farms

One of the first things you'll notice at the Southern California-based Bristol Farms is that, although the stores are large, each has retained the feeling of a local, friendly neighborhood shop. Organic food sourced from local farms and artisanal produce is the focus across its wide range of deli items, meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables, pantry items, and ready-made meals.

Although there is no shortage of things to explore, including an enviable salad bar and a tempting bakery with countless house-made cakes, we recommend heading to the juice bar. The aesthetics make for a perfect TikTok and Instagram moment — we won't judge. Overall, the produce selection is where Bristol Farms shines; vibrant pesticide-free vegetables piled high along the walls make Bristol Farms a must-visit location.

Dulcefina Chocolate and Sweets

If you have got a sweet tooth, Dulcefina in South Tampa Bay is an unmissable treat. The venture comes from best friends with an admiration for all things confectionery. The pair grew tired of the limited selection of chocolates and sweets available in U.S. grocery stores and decided to take matters into their own hands.

Now the modestly-sized store in Sarasota is a haven for anyone wanting to try hundreds of sweets from all over the world, including Italian wedding biscuits, Swedish fish, English licorice allsorts, and many more. In addition to packaged sweets, Dulcefina has an extensive International pick & mix selection, chocolate-coated nuts and coffee beans, and excellent coffee.

Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen

As the name suggests, Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen is all about the sausages. A family-owned store in the Lincoln Square area of Chicago, Gene's is decidedly one of the best places to find authentically smoked European sausages in the U.S. Since opening in the 1970s, the Luszcz family have preserved their family recipes, providing the European community over 40 varieties of freshly made artisan sausages — including bratwurst and Polish blood sausages, Kiszka — cooked in-house by authentic smokehouses.

While sausages are undoubtedly the main draw, the sizeable space presents a wide selection of European deli meats, cheeses, and fresh produce. In a traditionally European fashion, there's an entire floor dedicated to beer and a relaxing rooftop garden to enjoy German draft beers.

Yun Hai Taiwanese Pantry

One of the newest specialist stores (and one we're most excited about) is Yun Hai Taiwanese Pantry, which opened a brick-and-mortar store in Brooklyn, New York, as recently as 2022. The small team is devoted to bringing awareness to Taiwanese culture by offering products sourced directly from farmers, soy sauce breweries, and traditional artisans. As a result, the selection is small — but focused.

The wooden shelves are decorated with beautifully packaged items, artfully arranged in small numbers, which only serves to emphasize the quality of the goods. Browse the handpicked selection of all-natural soy pastes, spices, own-brand dried fruits, hot sauces, and frozen ready meals. Be sure to grab a chilled drink on your way out; whether a pleasant refreshing surprise or a childhood memory from growing up in Taiwan, it's sure to delight.

Papa Joe's Gourmet Market

For far too long, Los Angeles and New York City had a bit of a monopoly on specialty grocery stores. As the largest in the U.S. and home to sizable immigrant communities, both cities boomed with small community stores.

The founders at Papa Joe's were determined to change that, bringing a diverse selection of international groceries to its multiple locations in Detroit. In the 30 years that the store has been serving customers, it's developed a reputation as an excellent place to find an impressively large array of wines — the collection totals over 28,000 varieties, and a sommelier is always on hand to help to match gourmet cheese, oysters, or desserts.

Keita West African Market

In search of cassava for fufu? Along with fresh cassava, the Black-owned business Keita West African Market in Brooklyn offers traditional West African essentials, such as palm oil, plantains, ground crayfish, garri flour, kola nuts, and almost anything else you could wish for.

The midsized shop is a haven for anyone struggling to find specific ingredients needed to make traditional West African dishes, from dried goods, fresh organic vegetables, soup mixes, canned pulses, and frozen convenience food. Moreover, consumers flock to Keita West African Market for its exhaustive selection of in-demand African cosmetic products, such as raw shea butter, moringa powder, and black seed oil in addition to the packed food shelves.

Seabra Foods

A little under five years after they immigrated to the U.S., Américo and Maria Seabra founded Seabra, a family-run grocery store specializing in Brazilian and Portuguese foods. The location was perfect: Newark's Ironbound district, fondly nicknamed "Little Portugal." Much like other stores which cater to a specific community, the idea came about when the couple struggled to find foods they held dear in traditional American supermarkets.

Now, over 40 years later, other immigrants in the same boat have reconnected with Latin American foods, thanks to the selection of meats, fresh produce, and pantry goods at Seabra Foods. Make a bee-line for the salted cod (a Portuguese forte), morcela links (Portuguese blood sausage), green coconuts (hard to find elsewhere), or dried lupin beans, popular in cuisines the Mediterranean, Latin America, and North Africa.


Among all the locations documented here, Kalustyan's is one of the most historic. Opened in 1944 and just a few blocks from the Empire State and Flatiron buildings in Manhattan, the store was founded as a one-stop shop for all things Armenian by its namesake, Mr. Kalustyan. Later, its selection expanded to Indian spices and groceries before evolving into a treasure trove of ingredients from over 80 countries.

Due to Kalustyan's long-standing enterprise, it's become somewhat of an icon in the food scene. Eminent food authors, including Madhur Jaffrey and Martha Stewart, have explored the shop's gems — we recommend following in their footsteps and seeking out rare spices, lentils, dried fruits, and chutneys.


Sometimes, the smallest places offer the biggest surprises. That's the case for LA-based Cookbook, a tiny curated store stocking a sample of hand-picked items from ethical, small-business producers. Created by a married couple in 2010, they first set up shop in their native hometown — Echo Park — then grew to add an additional location in Highland Park.

Both sites have a surprisingly broad collection of items, from upmarket daily essentials like fresh greens and dairy to Anson Mills grains and woman-owned canned fish brand, Fishwife. We think these carefully selected products with strong stories and ethics at their core are what keep people coming back to Cookbook. Prepare to experience long queues at peak hours, as the brand has built a strong fanbase and space inside the shops is limited.

H Mart

All things Korean may be trending in the U.S. thanks to the rise of K-Pop, but that wasn't always the case. Just a few decades ago, for people searching out specific Asian ingredients, it often involved a pilgrimage to a small, basement-level, stuffy shop on the outskirts of town. Now, thanks to H Mart, shopping has been transformed for Asian Americans, as these ingredients are now accessible to the majority of the population.

Since 1982, H Mart has expanded to almost 100 stores across the U.S. Here, you can find all manner of Asian groceries — fresh noodles, live lobsters, gai lan, to mention but a few. Although the large stores cover almost every East Asian cuisine, there is a noteworthy focus on Korean groceries, so head to H Mart for ingredients to make authentic Korean meals. Think gochugaru to make homemade kimchi, tteokbokki (rice cakes), or mandu (dumplings).


You likely can't find luxury products like caviar, truffles, or even the controversial foie gras at your local grocery store. If you're in the market for gourmet foods, Marky's, which has locations across Miami, New York, and Brooklyn, is the place to look. Created to fill a gap in the market for refined European goods such as smoked salmon and caviar, Marky's has become the go-to for assorted epicurean ingredients.

We urge you to browse the range of caviar, which ranges in price from distinctly affordable to pure indulgence, and if you're in the mood for adventure, buy some French escargot (snails) to pair with a bottle of white wine. Browsing Marky's is a stimulating experience with something for everyone — even if you're not quite as enthusiastic about snails — and we're sure you'll leave with more delicacies than you had planned.


When you set foot inside Sahadi's, it's almost like traveling back in time. The store was first inaugurated in 1895 (yes, really), and, astoundingly, remains a family business. Much like the family, which has now entered the fifth generation of workers, customers at Sahadi's have been visiting the flagship store at Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, for many decades.

Some things may have changed — indeed, 2017 saw Sahadi's open a second store in Industry City, Brooklyn — but the focus on the finest Lebanese ingredients and freshly made foods has not. The bulk bins of dried nuts, seeds, and ancient grains are legendary, as are the spice aisles and deli, which sells freshly prepared authentic tabbouleh, kibbeh, kofte, and hummus.

Mitsuwa Marketplace

We have covered specialist Taiwanese and Korean grocery stores, but Mitsuwa Marketplace is all about traditional Japanese fare. With 12 locations in the U.S., including a store in Hawaii, this chain is making its mark on the Japanese American community.

In addition to shelves stocking necessities like nori sheets, udon noodles, miso paste, tamari, tofu, and frozen gyoza (along with plenty more), most Mitsuwa Marketplace locations showcase an impressive fresh sushi counter, bakery section with cutely-shaped sweet rolls, plenty of fresh seafood, and even Japanese restaurants. No matter if you are craving vegetable-packed Japanese curry or a spruced-up instant ramen bowl complete with fun toppings, you know where to head – Mitsuwa Marketplace.


With over 300 stores worldwide, the German brand vomFASS has seen exponential growth, and it is all down to the quality of its products. Specializing in upscale cooking oils, vinegar, spirits, and infused liqueurs, although vomFASS has an e-commerce website, it is well worth making your way to one of the 16 locations in the U.S.

In-store, you'll not only find beautifully bottled oils, vodkas, wines, and gift sets, but uniquely, large casks of alcohols, oils, and vinegar fitted with taps. The staff is on hand to offer samples of the gourmet products so you can try them before you buy, and they are always ready to provide specialist knowledge to fit your requirements.

Cole Market

Who said that popcorn is just for the movie theatre? Not us, and certainly not Cole Market. The small shop in Colorado Springs is a childhood dream, with jars of colorful, multi-flavored gourmet popcorn lining the shelves. The team creates popcorn of all combinations, encompassing classics like sea-salted caramel, butter, and dark chocolate coated to adventurous like a candied cake pop, parmesan garlic, or everything bagel.

Cole Kitchen also creates new mixtures seasonally, so each time you pop into the store, there's a possibility of a new treat waiting for you. As if that didn't sound incredible enough, popcorn isn't the only draw; artisan chocolate bars, truffles, and coated pretzels are made in-house just for you.

Gold Coast Supermarket

Although some may equate the Gold Coast with Australia, another region once went by the same name. In colonial Britain, the country now known as Ghana was referred to as "The Gold Coast" due to its abundance of gold, oil, and petroleum.

The family-run, Bronx-based Gold Coast Supermarket takes this moniker and, true to its name, specializes in ingredients from West Africa, the West Indies, and the Caribbean. Drop by and ask the friendly staff for recommendations, or seek out West African classics such as kenkey, pounded yams, garden eggs, or tinned fish. The market also has own-branded goods under the label "Supreme," but you can't really go wrong with anything from this spot.