Spice Ace Has Kitchen Essentials At Decent Prices

All spice routes lead to this Pacific Heights shop

It's like stepping onto the world's biggest spice rack.

Ceiling-high shelves neatly stocked with labeled glass bottles ring the walls of Spice Ace, which opened on a Pacific Heights side street a month ago. Dill and thyme, cumin and saffron: All the kitchen essentials can be found, and at good prices.

Olivia Dillan and Ben Balzer recently joined the spice trade after inspiration hit during their honeymoon in Venice.

They've spent the past year selecting herbs and spices, primarily organic or sustainably farmed, and grind most of the spices in-house for maximum freshness.

Spice Ace's selection of chiles, from heat-bomb ghost chiles to smoky pasillas de Oaxaca, is particularly strong. We picked up a jar of hard-to-find Marash pepper ($9.50 for 2 ounces), a fruity, oily Turkish chile with a low-pitched heat.

There is also a wide range of salts, from flavored and smoked to a light, crackly Sonoma kosher sea salt ($3 for 1.5 ounces).

One of the most intriguing jars we found contained powdered, freeze-dried raspberries ($8 for 1 ounce). We've been sprinkling the tart fucshia powder on ice cream, and dreaming of its cocktail potential.

Spice Ace, 1821 Steiner St. (at Sutter St.); 415-885-3038 or spiceace.com