If you're in the Valley and searching for some homemade borscht, Kaffir lime leaves, German beer and mustards, Indian spices or naan bread, or just some sweet Italian sausage, it's sometimes difficult to know which direction to head and exactly where to go. So, whether you're trying to get a taste of home, shopping for a dinner party, or just looking for something that you can't find at your local grocery store, here's a list--in no particular order--of our Top 10 ethnic markets in the San Fernando Valley.
1. Valley Produce
Valley Produce makes the list because if you need a variety of meats, cheeses, nuts or spices from more than one region, this joint is one stop shopping. It's got the rough and tumble feel of a farmers market, but look past the less than tidy exterior and you will find an excellent assortment of fresh and packaged goods from all over the world. If oiled up veggies and meats wrapped in plastic are your thing - this place won't be.
18345 Vanowen St Reseda; (818) 609-1955.
2. German Cold Cuts International
According to the owner Ursula, this tiny shop, in a totally obscure spot off Topanga Canyon Boulevard, has been doing a steady business for close to 35 years. Tucked away between a dry cleaners and a paint store, this little gem, packed with a big selection of beers, mustards, sweets and a full deli counter, is worth the time it takes to find it. A little bit of Deutschland right in the Valley.
6019 Topanga Canyon Blvd Ste C Woodland Hills; (818) 883-8051.
3. Epicure Imports
While this import store sells a variety of gourmet treats from all over the world, if you want one of the best selections of chocolates, foie gras, cheese and charcuterie straight from France then Epicure Imports fits the bill. They are only open to the public about six times a year, and foodies all over Los Angeles eagerly await those special weekends when they open their doors. Come armed with a lot of a patience because the place gets packed, but when you sink your teeth into the macarons you just bought, you'll know the line was worth the wait. (Call for dates.)
10701 Vanowen St. North Hollywood; (818) 985-9800.
In business since the 70's this place is family run in the true sense of the word. Tony Magnanimo handed over the reins to his sons about 10 years ago, but still works the counter on many days. The staff is quick to give you a sample of anything in the case or some advice on the recipe you might be putting together that night. According to Tony "A lot has changed, but not the stuff we sell, most of the stuff here is homemade." Some of those home made specialties include Sfogliatelle - puff pasty with ricotta and dried fruit, Giardeniera - a vegetable spread, along with a variety of homemade pastas, breads, marinated vegetables and fresh mozzarella.
17458 Ventura Blvd. Encino; (818) 981-4466.
5. Q Market and Produce
Right in the heart of the Valley this is a medium sized market that sells all the Middle Eastern goodies your heart could desire. Hankering for some Turkish Delight? Then this is your place. From lavash and a wide array of produce to cheeses, olives and pistachios with rosewater, it has it all. Don't let the scruffy exterior fool you, it's well kept inside.
17259 Vanowen St Van Nuys; (818) 758-9995.
6. Galleria Market
This huge Korean market in Northridge not only has a big selection of Asian treats (including a Korean kimchi corner with all kinds of pickled delights), but also a food court and a full service bakery.
10201 Reseda Blvd. Northridge; (818) 772-5755.
7. Vallarta Supermarkets
Yes, it's a chain, but for one stop Mexican/Latin food shopping, Vallarta just can't be beat. And, since their first store opened in Van Nuys in 1985 they have their roots in the Valley. Aside from 10 kinds of jalapeños, a larger array of pre-made tortillas than one was aware existed, Vallarta also has a great assortment of produce at a very reasonable price and a pretty stellar meat counter. They also have a big selection of prepared foods like fresh tortillas right off the press, chicharrones that are really decent for grocery store fare, and a huge selection of freshly made aguas frescas. And if that doesn't sell you, many of the locations offer free shuttle service to the store from your home.
12 locations throughout the Valley and Los Angeles.
8. Bangluk Markett
Although they claim to be a pan-Asian market, the emphasis is definitely Thai.
Lemongrass, tiny eggplants, kaffir lime leaves, long beans, Thai iced tea mix and a huge selection of fish and soy sauces are only the beginning of what make this market worth visiting. As with other smaller operations, the environment can be a tad, untidy, but look past that and you'll find a really exciting selection of Thai and other Southeast Asian goodies.
12980 Sherman Way North Hollywood; (818) 765-1088. 7235 Reseda Blvd Reseda; (818) 708-0333.
9. Tashkent Produce
If visiting Russia is on your bucket list but the cost of getting there's a bit out of your realm, try stopping by Tashkent Produce in Valley Village which is a little bit of Russia on the Valley side of the hill. Among many other things they carry borscht, varenye (preserves), an interesting beer selection, smetana (kind of like crème fraiche) and a case full of prepared foods.
5340 Laurel Canyon Blvd. Valley Village; (818) 752-7222.
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10. India Sweets & Spices
One of the only Indian markets in the Valley, they actually have seven locations throughout Los Angeles and two in the Valley. If you are looking for gram flour, every kind of bean, lentil or legume you could want, naan bread, or dosa (crepes made from rice and lentils) then look no further. They also have a good prepared food and take out section, and while eating Indian food can often be a costly affair, the prices here are very affordable.
22011 Sherman Way Canoga Park; (818) 887-0868.