Sunday, January 3, 2010

Grocery shopping in Yaletown

Living downtown means that I typically live car free when I run my errands. When I go grocery shopping, I walk. In Yaletown there are 3 main grocery stores nearby:

Choices at the corner of Richards and Davie
Urban Fare on Davie east of Pacific
Nester's on the corner of Nelson and Seymour

Sure, there are more grocery stores if you want to walk a bit further: the Korean H-Mart and the IGA Marketplace on opposite sides of Richards and Robson, the IGA Marketplace on Burrard and Smithe, the Chinese T&T at Abbott and Keefer, the Safeway and SuperValu further west down Davie in the West End, and so on. This doesn't include Granville Island Public Market which is a short water taxi ride away, the many family-run produce markets, the Shoppers Drug Marts, or the slew of 7-11's.

But typically if I want to spontaneously run out and pick up some items, I have two choices:

Choices or Urban Fare.

Unfortunately for me, they're also two of the most expensive places you can go grocery shopping in the city - one of the draw-backs of living downtown.

Choices is a BC-based grocery store that features many health products and organic items in addition to every day items. In terms of organic produce, they really are the best, but if you're seeking organic anything, chances are they'll have it. If I just need to pick up milk and some generic items, I'll probably go to Choices as it's only a 2 minute walk down the block.

Urban Fare, which is Save-on-Foods's gourmet grocery branch, is where I go if I want speciality products. It's just over a 5 minute walk away from me. It opened up in Yaletown oh, about 10 years ago now, and I remember somebody joking around saying that it's "20,000 square feet of condiments".

It's true. They have jars of pretty much anything. All the different kinds of oils, olive oils, infused oils, vinegars, mustards, gourmet preserves, different kinds of salts and spice, and what have you. If I'm looking for specialty meat products, like duck legs, or if I need to pick up a loaf of brioche, that's where I go. If I need to pick up a stinky French cheese that's just oozing from its rind, or, heck, juniper berries - they'd have them.

At one time Urban Fare was locally known for flying in a loaf of bread from Paris every day. I wouldn't want to make a habit of doing my daily grocery shopping at Urban Fare, but if I'm seeking that one item that I'd otherwise have to drive to a specialty store to get, Urban Fare is where I'd go.

Last night we had a few of our friends over for some wine and cheese. Josh ended up picking up all the supplies at Urban Fare. Fresh cherries, raspberries, 7 different kinds of cheese (from that stinking melting French monstrosity to an aged Oka), a wild boar and apricot pate, prosciutto, Spanish Serrano ham, several artisan breads, Morroccan sun-dried olives, different kinds of hummus, and erm... yeah. We polished off 6 bottles of wine and still have enough cheese, bread, and meat to feed, oh... 40 people or so.

Guess who's eating cheese for dinner!

6 comments:

Motti Shaked said...

When we were living downtown we used to drive and raid Superstore once a month to stock up on everything. Then we completed whatever was missing (i.e. milk) from Urban Fare.

I really liked shopping at Urban Fare. It was conveniently located and I always knew that I could go there and buy something I never had before...

Superstore was the exact opposite: far, poor customer service, not fun at all, cheap...

Robyn said...

We just did a Superstore raid a week ago, and we really have to get into the habit of doing that again. I keep forgetting that we have a car now. :)

But we were living carfree for 3 years, so Superstore was so far off the radar - if we needed to pick up cheap groceries, we'd pick them up at SuperValu on Davie and take a cab back home!

Robyn said...

Random question, but what Superstore do you go to? The one at Grandview or the one on Main? I only ever go to the one on Main Street, and on occasion the one on No 3 Rd in Richmond, but I've wondered if it's even worth making the trek to Grandview.

Robyn said...

... and by Main Street, I really mean SW Marine Drive.

Motti Shaked said...

We used to go to SW Marine @ Main, but preferred going to the one in Richmond if we were in that area. It seemed more organized.

Robyn said...

I completely agree.