When it comes to making buñuelos or baklava, your neighborhood grocery chain isn’t going to cut it.
Thankfully, Greenville is home to scores of international markets offering groceries from around the world. From Middle Eastern shops to Asian markets to Colombian bakeries, these specialty businesses give customers access to ingredients and dishes they can’t find at their regular grocery stores. Here are three essential stops:
The Pita House, 495 S. Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday
Tucked next to this popular Middle Eastern restaurant is a small but robust grocery store stocked with olives and olive oils, feta cheeses, homemade falafel and Greek snacks galore. Manager Hani Namouz, whose family opened Pita House 30 years ago, says the grocery “caters to the whole Mediterranean.”
“They can find the stuff to make their own home cooking here,” Namouz says.
There’s Greek coffee and chocolates, hard-to-find spices like sumac and za’atar (a blend of dried thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds and other spices), rosewater, dried dates and figs and a whole row devoted to olives, which are a ubiquitous sight at Middle Eastern tables and served as a side dish at breakfast, lunch and dinner, according to Namouz.
There’s also a small selection of hookahs and Turkish copper coffee pots. Nakhly, a coffee with ground cardamom seeds, which hails from Namouz’s hometown of Shefa-‘Amr, Israel, is also sold at the grocery.
Asia Pacific Restaurant & Supermarket, 420 N. Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
Owner Alva Mak opened what may be area’s largest Asian market and authentic Chinese restaurant in 2017.
The vast store carries all manner of Japanese and Korean candies and snacks, Vietnamese sauces and fresh Chinese produce. Mak says she uses some 20 distributors to stock her shelves with products that you’d normally see in a city like Atlanta, which has a larger Asian population.
Items are neatly arranged in long aisles. There’s a housewares section with “all kinds of home goods and lots of nice dishes,” Mak says, a dried noodle section and a frozen dim sum section with a heady selection of potstickers, shu mai (steamed shrimp dumplings) and radish cakes. But one of the biggest draws is the live seafood. The store has tanks displaying live lobsters, crabs and a variety of fish. Customers can choose a fresh fish and have it cooked to order, Mak says.
You can also order a whole Peking duck — one of Asia Pacific’s most popular dishes — to take home (though the restaurant needs 24 hours notice). Says Mak: “If we don’t have duck, we cannot open.”
Pereira Bakery, 1100 E. Lee Road, Taylors
Hours: 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon-Sat; 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday
Located in an off-the-grid storefront off Wade Hampton Boulevard in Taylors, this Colombian bakery, restaurant and mini grocery has been serving empanadas and badeja paisa for more than 13 years. Popular items include the badeja paisa, a hearty platter of beans, rice, chicharron, carne asada, chorizo, a fried egg, plantains and caszuela de frijoles, a red bean dish. The pandebono, buñuelos and Ararepa de choclo (a buttery corn cake served with queso) are also a must.
Its popularity is evident in the steady stream of work trucks and sea of cars during lunch hour. The owners, Dora and Miguel Morales, promise a “one-stop shop for an authentic experience. Stop by for good food and friendly smiles.” The mini grocery is stocked with authentic Colombian and Latin American drinks, snacks and staples. Grab a loaf of homemade bread and cookies for the road.
Also worth checking out:
Asian: Oriental Imports, 1305 Laurens Road; Tanpopo, 8590 Pelham Road #7; Saigon Market, 1540 Wade Hampton Blvd.
Indian: Krishna Grocery, 1288 Woodruff Road; Radha Indian Grocers, 9 Hendrix Drive; VGO Market, 55 Park Woodruff Drive; Swad Restaurant & Store, 1421 Laurens Road
European: European Market #4, 1635 Woodruff Road
Middle Eastern: HolyLand International Grocery & Halai Meat, 200 N. Pleasantburg Drive
Hispanic: La Esperanza, 1152 N. Pleasantburg Drive; La Unica SuperCenter, 6119 White Horse Road
African: African-Jamaican-Caribbean Foods Fish & Meat Market, 1368 N. Pleasantburg Drive