I posted this originally on Urban Vancouver, way back in December 2004. I thought I'd move a copy here to make sure I could keep a copy.
About a year ago, I put together a collaborative map of places to buy great ingredients in Vancouver over on Foodists.ca. Here's the map:
View Foodists Vancouver map of key foody locales in a larger map
My parents are both originally from Germany. I grew up speaking German, and we originally lived just off "Robson Strasse" as it was then known because of all the Germans that lived there.
Even today, living in Vancouver, most Europeans don't need to change their diet (i.e. lots of good bread, cheese, meat, sausages, chocolate, saurkraut, etc.) if you know where to shop.
And that's where this post really starts. Read on for the tour of shops to fill your Euro-diet needs (and just really good stores/food in general)
First up, the hidden treasures of European Specialty Importers. They're on 220 Prior Street, which is just off Main by the Georgia Viaduct. If you're coming over the viaduct from downtown, take the offramp as if you're going to Main. Instead of turning on Main, cross it (you're on Prior) and it's the warehouse directly on your right, with a big sign with their name. If it looks like you're pulling up at a loading dock, you're at the right place.
What's there? Well, pretty much any canned or packaged European food -- coffee, tea, saurkraut, mustard (in a tube!), dumplings, etc., etc. There is a small selection of meats and cheeses as well, but we've got another spot for that. Oh yes...did I mention the chocolate? There is an entire cold room (under video surveillance) filled with chocolate (cue Simpson's reference here).
Next stop, Andy's Bakery. A very small store front at 935 Commercial (at Venables) conceals the best "landbrot" (big, multi-pound loaves of German rye) in the city. Nice buns, and a really good dark multi-grain as well. No foamy insubstantial Wonderbread here! If you need a lot of bread, you can call ahead to order.
You may have seen the name Freybe before -- they produce a lot of commercially packaged meat stuff. But, they also happen to have a factory outlet store at 716 East Hastings Street. It is sometimes so busy on Saturdays that they have to lock the doors and only let people in as others leave. Cold cuts, sausages, and fresh meat. Have you ever had meat salad? They have it, and it's delicious.
OK, the car is getting pretty full at this point, but there are still a few bits and pieces we need. Famous Foods is at 1595 Kingsway at King Edward. They bill themselves as "The Original Bulk Food Store", but they have so much more. The "bulk" stuff is nicely packaged dry goods, from great spices to pastas, beans, flour, oats, etc. etc. They have a good selection of meat, seafood, cheese, and even vegetables. The last category is natural products -- environmentally friendly cleaning and hygiene products. Yes, the variety is incredible, and the prices are great, too.
Now I'm going to throw in a couple of bonus links, both on the drive -- Santa Barbara, a store a bit like Famous Foods. Expect to spend as much as 20 minutes waiting at the deli counter for service, but it's worth it. The other one is Norman's Fruits and Vegetables. The owners have produce from local farms in the valley, and you can get masses of produce for really cheap -- e.g. $2 for a 5lb box of roma tomatoes.
What are your favourite food shops in Vancouver? Anyone have pointers for shopping for Chinese, Indian, Thai, or other cuisine/ethnicity ingredients?