Portland is a city of home cooks. Its locals are farmer’s market devotees, documenting escapades making bread or cheese on social media and waiting in line at cookbook signings. Portland’s diners geek out over the arrival of big-name specialty chains like H Mart, and the excitement over places like Japanese conbini-style cafe Giraffe Goods, Jewish deli Beetroot, and Kachka’s deli Lavka is split between the actual dishes and their accompanying pantry sections.
While Portland’s various super-hyped restaurants opened around town this spring, a handful of markets have swung open doors as well, and their arrivals have made waves within the home cook community. That being said, it’s hard out here for a grocery these days: City Market NW, a local institution, just announced plans to close this summer, and with online markets and countless New Seasons about town, the options can feel overwhelming. Below, find a guide to Portland’s three newest specialty markets, with the gist of what they offer, where they offer it, and why shoppers should go.
Real Good Food
What it is: Real Good Food is the small, specialty pantry shop from Jim Dixon, a longtime Portland food personality tracking down olive oil and rice for some of Portland’s top chefs. For years, Dixon has been a wholesale importer and distributor for restaurateurs, but his market makes it easier for regulars to find exceptional dried beans, pastas, slow-fermented vinegars, and rice.
The highlights: Katz slow-fermented vinegars, Ito Shoten tamari, and smoked soy sauce, not to mention Spanish vermouth and Lambrusco on-tap. Down the line, Dixon will host more chef events and cooking classes at the market.
What’s special about it: Portlanders who’ve eaten olive oil at Nostrana or vinegars at Le Pigeon have tasted what Dixon has to offer. If it’s good enough for them, it’s probably good enough for the average home cook.
If you go: Noon to 6 p.m. Fridays-Tuesdays, 935 NE Couch Street, (503) 987-0828, realgoodfood.com
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Citymaxx just opened at 122nd and Powell, and I want you all to go there so it stays in business. It claims to be a world market, but it’s mostly Russian and Ukrainian foods with middle eastern food peppered in too. It’s also probably the only place I will be able to get speciality foods for the Jewish holidays. Also, they have a really killer hot food counter and a massive selection of meats. . . If you want a friend, Beezy and I will go with you but everybody there speaks English. If you like the food of our people, plz go. . . . . . #portlandoregon #citymaxx #russianfood #ukrainianfood #worldmarket #русский #украина #ethnicgrocerystore #portland #pdx
What it is: This European grocery store hits something close to supermarket status, with a full deli counter, a bakery, and whole smoked fish. The market, located in shopping center Powell Villa, is also a key spot to find hard-to-track-down drinks like Dansk Mjød Viking Blod mead.
The highlights: Sprats, Russian candies, smoked meats, and German baked breads
What’s special about it: Citymaxx may become the spot with the widest selection of Eastern European groceries, from Russian beers to sprats to Armenian bastirma, an air-dried cured beef
If you go: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, 3552 SE 122nd Avenue, citymaxx.com
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My day off errands got derailed by the grand opening of a new Asian market at SE Foster and 82nd. Apparently, I'm not the only one who couldn't resist. . . . #Asianmarket #sfsupermarket #sfsupermarketportland #grandopening #cantresist #plansderailed #adultusinterruptus #somuchfun #pdx #portlandoregon #pdxeats #portlandeats #gonnacookthat #recipesforarevolution
Shun Fat Supermarket
What it is: A local outpost of a chain of international supermarkets, Shun Fat — also called SF Supermarket — offers a wide array of imports, as well as live fish, ube-queso ice cream, and durian. The market shares a space with a jewelry store and various other businesses, a la Fubonn.
The highlights: Well, hello, the aforementioned ube-queso ice cream, as well as live catfish, paletas, fresh durian, and frozen dumplings
What’s special about it: The market’s diversity of products is pretty astounding, and having a market with a number of live fish options is somewhat unusual for Portland. Food writer Genevive Ko wrote a personal, heartfelt portrait of the grocery for Epicurious, calling it “totally unapologetic” in its love of the funky and fermented and “almost uncomfortably cheap.”
If you go: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, 5253 SE 82nd Avenue, www.shunfatsupermarket.com