After two visits this past weekend I am ready to proclaim that Food Emporiums are the best real grocery stores (supermarkets) in New York City. Or at the very least the Food Emporium on 68th and Broadway deserves such consideration. Unlike stores like Fairway and Whole Foods, which have their obvious merits, my local Food Emporium actually has lots of hardcore grocery items and that's what you need to find in a good grocery store. I needed a can of Ro-Tel to make nachos and Food Emporium was the only store I found in my neighborhood to carry them.
Why else do I love my Food Emporium?
The same store also has automatic check-out lines, organic produce, and an interesting line of artisanal breads from Canada, Ace, some of which they bake off in the store. This past weekend my local Food Emporium had this great promotion. Buy an Ace baguette, which by the way was still warm when I bought it (it wasn't a great baguette, it tasted like a brown n' serve roll, albeit a good one), and you received a half pound of really good salami made by Columbus in San Francisco. Free salami, Ro-Tel in stock, a spacious store that well-lit, with friendly checkout folks (a particularly friendly checkout clerk alerted me to the free salami promotion when she saw I was buying the Ace baguette). That's what I call a real grocery store.
Fairway will always be my go-to market. It has a terrific selection of cheeses, breads, olive oils, and vinegars. Plus, it's two blocks from my house. But I find it comforting to know that I actually have a hard-core grocery store in my neighborhood.