Here's one thing South Florida has aplenty: specialty markets that range from the super-large and sweet to the small and exotic. Sure, they're the types of places where you might not be able to cross off all the items on your grocery list, but what you'll discover instead are some hard-to-find or unique items you wouldn't be able to get from mundane stops like Publix, Winn Dixie, or even Whole Foods.
From caviar and foie gras to imported cheeses and rare spices, just imagine the aisles and refrigerated deli cases of possibilities that await you when you explore this list of the 15 best specialty markets in Broward and Palm Beach.
15. To the Moon Marketplace
2205 Wilton Drive, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-564-2987, or visit tothemoonmarketplace.com.
Best for: Sugary and salty goodies in every form.
Much more than a candy shop, this Wilton Manors institution stocks a strange and intriguing selection of gourmet (and not-so-gourmet) food items like salsas, sauces, and salty snacks. The shop also deals heavily in all things nostalgia-related with an exhaustive array of old-timey candies and hard-to-find sweet treats, as well as a variety of collectibles and nonfood items to round out the selection.
14. Tunie's Natural Grocery & Vitamin Market
900 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-866-7751, or visit tunies.com.
Best for: Affordable supplements and all-natural or organic food.
With sky-high price tags, it's no wonder so many people feel they can't afford a healthy lifestyle, organic food, or all-natural products. But if Whole Foods isn't in your price range, there's another option. You can find a lot of what you need at Tunie's Natural Grocery and Vitamin Market, a locally-based chain with locations in Palm Beach Gardens, Coral Springs, and Fort Lauderdale. In operation for more than 20 years, Tunie's' main claim to fame is that it offers more than 30,000 items, including a variety of all-natural groceries and supplements along with organic produce, health and beauty products, and pet products. Their main claim to fame is selling it all for lower prices than the big-name stores while also hosting weekly free health education seminars.
13. Got Sprouts?
1880 W. Tenth St. #104, West Palm Beach. Call 561-689-9464, or visit gotsprouts.com.
Best for: Organic wheatgrass, sprouts, and seeds.
Sean and Jody Herbert began Got Sprouts? several years ago in response to some serious health challenges they experienced in the past. The couple learned most of what they know about the healing quality of living sprouts and following a raw vegan diet from Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach. They began growing organic, GMO-free sprouts — germinated seeds that provide chlorophyll, essential nutrients, proteins, fats, and enzymes — for personal use and later launched their business to help others lead a healthy lifestyle. Today customers can purchase wheatgrass, sunflower, broccoli, radish, buckwheat, and pea sprouts in bulk, as well as a variety of seeds and all the equipment necessary to grow your own sprouts at home. If you can't make it to the retail store, the company delivers from Stuart to Deerfield Beach.
12. Celis Produce
2814 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach. Call 561-410-5735, or visit celis-produce.com.
Best for: Organic fruits and vegetables delivered right to your door.
Sure, you can visit the Celis Produce store in West Palm Beach, but you can also get fresh, organic produce delivered directly to your door. Celis' main mission is to make buying organic fruits and vegetables easy, affordable, and — most of all — convenient. To do so, the company offers a number of packages they call "shares." Contents in each share can feed anywhere from a family of three to an office of 50. Fruit and vegetable selections change weekly, delivered directly to your home or office Monday through Wednesday. Right now that includes seasonal sweet potatoes, local zucchini, red leaf lettuce, organic Hass avocados, blueberries, and orange honeydew. Delivery is free with a $15 minimum purchase, and options for frequency of drop-offs are flexible according to your needs and wants. If you're not the delivery type, you can also purchase a la carte by visiting Celis Produce in person, where they sell the same organic produce and products for a good price.
11. Russian & International Food Market
903 Glades Road, Boca Raton. Call 561-483-6020.
Best for: Eastern European food and goods.
A large assortment of Eastern European and Russian goods line the shelves of this spacious market off Glades Road in Boca Raton. It's not surprising they also have a good selection of vodka, wine, and imported beer. If it's sweets you're after, candies from around the world can be found throughout the shop, while fresh-baked goods and pastries line the back deli counter. Here you can also order homemade pierogis, smoked fish, and deli meats you won't find at the Publix meat counter (think gypsy salami, blood tongue, and cervelat). If you need something on the spot, order a homemade traditional Russian soup like borsh, soleanka, or okroshka — a mix of cucumber, radish, and spring onion with boiled potatoes, egg, and a cooked meat such as beef, veal, sausages, or ham with kvass (a nonalcoholic beverage made from fermented black or rye bread).
10. Old Heidelberg Deli
914 W. State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-463-3880, or visit oldheidelbergdeli.com.
Best for: Homemade sausages and a large selection of German beer.
If you love German food, you already know about Old Heidelberg in Fort Lauderdale. But have you been to the traditional German deli of the same name housed just next door? Here you can find an assortment of housemade German goodies like sauerkraut, fresh breads including the pretzel-like brezel, and imported cheeses like Handkäse, a German sour milk cheese. You can also find a number of specialty candies and chocolates as well as a few dozen imported German beers. The best part, however, is the dozens of housemade sausages: everything from kielbasa, pork wiener, and knockwurst to bratwurst, head cheese, and a homemade sauerbraten (pot roast).
9. Thousand Pound Egg
908 NE 20th Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-335-7060, or visit thousandpoundegg.com.
Best for: Cookbooks and culinary classes.
A fairly recent addition to the varied Victoria Park neighborhood located in the Gateway Shopping Center, this independent store deals in offering the home cook all the tools and goods needed to produce the perfect meal. The store has a range of new and vintage cookbooks to cater to your ultra specific cravings — as well as the ingredients you'll need to satisfy them. There's also an emphasis on locally sourced products like Florida honey and locally crafted artisan porcelain plates and ceramics. The store even carries rare and unusual food products from around the globe, while the foodie founders host culinary-centric events like tastings, author talks, and a number of unique gastronomic gatherings.
8. India Bazaar
4780 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-684-3480.
Best for: Indian spices and products.
Your options for a quality Indian dinner in South Florida are limited. Sure, there are some solid Indian restaurants in both counties, but they're few and far between. Instead, why not stock up on Indian ingredients and try your hand at making your own palek paneer, curries, and aloo matar? At this bazaar-style shop you can find all the specialty spices, masala, and chutneys (even minced lamb or goat) you'll need to make it happen, plus the extras — packaged as snacks or stacked as fresh produce — to help create a memorable meal. This shop also holds late hours daily (until 9 p.m.) so shopping isn't a hassle on the weekdays. Don't forget to grab a piping hot samosa at the counter before you check out.
7. Jan's Homemade Candies
4327 N. Ocean Drive, Lauderdale-By-the-Sea. Call 954-202-9495, or visit janscandies.com.
Best for: Handmade, small-batch chocolates.
For the past 12 years, anyone stepping into Jan’s Homemade Candies in Lauderdale-By-the-Sea has had a serious task at hand: try to resist owners Jan and Bob Lendi’s proposition to sample anything on display. That amounts to dozens of beautifully handcrafted chocolates available in almost every shape, flavor, and design you can think of. Here, Jan produces everything in small batches, all of it made with all-natural ingredients free from preservatives. The couple also do personalized chocolates, just in case you're in need of an extra-special customized treat. You can feel good about your purchase, too; for the past several years, the duo has been shipping their candy to wounded service men and women at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
6. Kim & Lee Oriental Mart
4850 N. University Drive, Lauderhill. Call 954-747-7740, or visit orientalmartmiami.com.
Best for: Almost any Asian food product you can imagine.
Believe it or not, this is considered the largest Korean market in South Florida. The store is huge, aisle after aisle offering all manner of Asian grocery items from prepared food like homemade kimchi in giant glass jars to candies, canned goods, teas, exotic produce, frozen seafood, and specialty items like mochi ice cream. They even have a large assortment of cookware. A prepared food section lets you sample a variety of Korean fare made fresh daily. The place also gets major bonus points for handing out complimentary Yakuruto Korean yogurt drink at checkout.
5. Oxtails & More Discount Foods
2835 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach. Call 561-616-0776, or visit oxtails.com.
Best for: A solid selection of Caribbean and Jamaican ingredients and foods.
Does oxtail come from an ox? Is breadfruit a type of bread? What is cow cod? If you've ever wondered — even for a second — as to the correct answer to any of these questions, a trip to Oxtails & More in West Palm Beach is certainly in order. The Caribbean grocery offers a large variety of goods shipped straight from Jamaica, many of which might need a dictionary description before purchase. That includes specialty goods like Milo (a malted-chocolate, fortified drink from Australia), ribena syrup (a cordial made from blackberries), festival mix (a flour-like dough that can be fried and served with fish), geera (an East Indian spice of cumin and coriander), lalu (a Haitian plant similar to collard greens), and Matouk's Flambeau (a hot sauce made from aged pickled Scotch bonnet peppers). You might be more familiar with the store's Econ-O-Paks of meat: two to four pounds each of various cuts of chicken, beef, turkey, and pork. And if all the shopping is making you hungry, a full Jamaican menu of prepared foods is offered from noon to close daily (or until food runs out) with dishes like oxtail and curry goat or snapper escovitch.
4. The Spice Quarter
1044 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-652-1025.
Best for: Hard-to-find spices and herbs.
As Fort Lauderdale's first (and only) spice shop, there's probably nothing you're looking for that you won't be able to find at owner Paul Rydza's boutique. For the past five years, the store has been offering a robust selection of more than 500 items including flavored oils and balsamic vinegars, sugars, salts, spices, herbs, chilies, and hot sauces. Some of the store's more unusual finds aren't spices at all, but grains: green bamboo rice, purple heirloom rice, or tawny-colored sweet potato orzo. Everything is organized into easy-to-shop sections, and reasonable pricing makes it affordable on almost any budget. The best part: You can try before you buy so you're not disappointed when you get home and discover that rare or hard-to-find spice or infused oil you've always wanted to sample isn't quite what you were expecting. The only exception might be bhut jolokia, or ghost pepper, considered among the hottest peppers on the planet with a 1,001,300 Scoville heat rating.
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3. Smitty's Old Fashioned Butcher Shop
1980 NE 45th St., Oakland Park. Call 954-771-9341, or visit smittysmeatsandwines.com.
Best for: Special cuts of meat with classic butcher shop service.
For those of you who are never quite satisfied with the Publix meat selection, perhaps a trip to Smitty's in Oakland Park is in order. Of all the area's old-school butchers, owner Dave Crumbaker's shop is the most traditional, a professional service he's honed from many decades' worth of a loyal clientele. Here you can order the best meat they've got in the house; the high-end cuts sell the best, from hefty porterhouses and perfect filets to fat-ribboned Delmonicos and dry-aged strip. If you've got questions, the staff will be happy to help; go ahead and ask how long that steak's been aging, where it came from, and how it was raised. There's also a good selection of seasonal and local game meats like boar, gator, and venison. And, just because no meal is truly complete without a good wine to go along with it, the shop also has a solid selection of vino to pair with any meat you purchase.
2. Triar Seafood
2046 McKinley St., Hollywood. Call 954-921-1113, or visit floridaseafood.com.
Best for: Finding a large variety of fresh seafood.
For over 20 years, Triar Seafood in Hollywood has been a go-to for fresh fish, featured in the Miami Herald, the New York Times, and Gourmet for its stellar service and product. Be sure to call Triar before heading to their warehouse to find out what some of the fresh catches of the day will be (there are often more than 60). Then place an order and head over to pick it up Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday from 8 to 10:30 a.m. If you're in the mood for seafood, they often have everything from uber-fresh red mullet, barramundi, and bronzini to strawberry grouper, turbot, or even Tasmanian steelhead. There's no retail "market" really, so you might have to wait a few minutes for your order if you don't call ahead (and wear sneakers if you want to go in the back to check out what's available). It's all worth the wait, though. Aside from having one of the most impressive seafood selections you'll ever lay eyes on, there's also a good selection of high-end products like caviar and tobiko, the flying fish roe you see on sushi.
1. House of Caviar & Fine Foods
2801 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-462-0533, or visit bemka.com.
Best for: Fine foods and high-end items.
Looking to impress a dinner guest or two? This is your go-to spot. Since 1984, Bemka Corporation — the parent company for House of Caviar & Fine Foods in Fort Lauderdale — has been supplying some of the country's most prestigious hotels, restaurants, country clubs, and gourmet shops as a fine foods distributor offering a number of epicurean items. An online store offers a wide range of delicacies that can be shipped directly to your door — items like pure saffron and bourbon vanilla beans, imported sea salts and chocolates, dried and frozen truffles, various pates, and duck foie gras. Locally, the Fort Lauderdale-based office is best known for providing one of the area's largest selections of caviar from Kaluga, Royal Imperial, Russian Ossetra, and Royal Siberian to White Sturgeon and wild American caviar sourced from the Mississippi River (along with salmon, whitefish, flying fish, and trout roe).
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.