Category Archives: Bodegas/Convenience Stores

Thomas Market

I somehow missed Thomas Market (2650 University, near Viers Mill) when I wrote up Wheaton’s bodegas last summer (Part I and Part II).  From the outside, Thomas is nondescript, unassuming, and I confess that even after someone left a comment recommending Thomas, it still never captured my attention.

Finally last week I got there, and it was worth the visit. Though one of the smallest of Wheaton’s markets, Thomas has been in business since 1965 so they must be doing something right. Indeed, their collection of Middle Eastern food, broadly construed to include not only Greek and Turkish but also Armenian, Persian, and Italian, is very good, lots of interesting fresh nuts and legumes and spices from banal to exotic, and mostly at rock bottom prices.  They have the assortment of Middle Eastern dried and canned goods you would expect, plus a well-appointed freezer holding phyllo, spanikopita, sausages, etc.

The place is so small that there isn’t much room for fresh/prepared foods, but they do have some, and about half the deli counter is given to six varieties of fresh feta cheese (Greek, Bulgarian, French, American), plus olives and a few meats and cheeses. If you’re hosting a feta tasting anytime soon, this is the place to go. Looks supertasty.

I will also note that they have for sale a small but colorfully eye-catching assortment of hookahs and hookah accessories.  In case you want to liven up that feta tasting.  As though feta alone weren’t enough!

7-Eleven, Two-Eleven, Roger

Wheaton Patch reports on this morning’s Amherst Avenue 7-Eleven robbery and subsequent capture of the suspect.  Sounds like nice quick work by the local police, whose presence in Wheaton is noticeable and very much appreciated, and not just because they protect our access to Squishies Slushies Slurpees.

Tour of Wheaton Bodegas Update

Almost forgot: today’s Gazette has a brief but nice writeup of the aforementioned Dames d’Escoffier tour of Wheaton’s ethnic groceries (plus a few restaurants) last Saturday. Sounds like fun had by all: now go forth and spread the word about good Wheaton eatin’! Or food shoppin’ at least.  Interesting that Hollywood East owner Janet Yu instigated the tour. I like it!

 

Wheaton Culinary Tour and Oktoberfest

If I had known (that’ll teach me to read Patch more often) about this morning’s culinary tour of Wheaton organized by Les Dames d’Escoffier, I still would not have joined the tour because I’ve already done the self-tour — if you also missed it you can do it virtually here and here. I think those two posts discuss every stop on the tour other than Marchone’s (which I mention pretty much constantly) and Sergio’s (reviewed here). Kudos to Les Dames for organizing the tour; I think many people still have visions of Wheaton circa the 1970s or 1980s and don’t know how good the food scene is here now. I hope lots of non-locals show up, enjoy themselves, and learn a thing or two!

The tour includes a pupusa-making demonstration at Sergio’s. Makes me want to hold a pupusa-eating demonstration soon.

But instead, we are off soon with friends to the Germantown Oktoberfest, which should be a blast. Gotta go iron my lederhosen.

Bodegas of Wheaton, Part II: Mercados Latinos

This is Part II of my rundown of Wheaton’s convenience stores (Part I, non-Latino bodega reviews here).

Mercado Latino (not sure of street number, maybe 11314 Fern, across from Nava Thai) (alas no photo) – nice direct name, you know exactly what you’re in for; formerly located down Fern in the Suporn Thai strip mall, moved early this year; friendly bilingual owners/staff; small but interesting selection of pan-Latino dry goods, frozen delicacies; small butcher and fruit/veggie selection; limes usually five for $1 but uneven quality; not necessarily worth a trip but a useful store if you’re in the neighborhood.

La Salvadorenita

La Salvadorenita

La Salvadorenita Grocery (11417 Georgia, in “Wheaton Market Place” strip north of University) — odd mix of food (mostly of the baked goods/sugary snacks/beverage variety), household goods (lots of cleaning products), and cheap apparel, especially t-shirts, of evidently tourist-trap quality; tiny meat/veggie/fresh foods section; nothing particularly unusual, unlike at Mercado Latino or some of the Part I bodegas.

Brazilian Market

Brazilian Market

Brazilian Market (11425 Grandview) — combination bakery, cookout supplies, and all things Brazilian from futbol jerseys to CDs to knickknacks; also, oddly, a selection of hair care products; bakery items look good but I haven’t tried them; limited food selection includes enormous cuts of beef, enormous bags of charcoal, and normal-sized bags of frozen potatoes — what more could one need?; they also have a huge smoker (I think) on-site in case you can’t wait to get your beef hunk home; at any given time, half the people in the place, including staff and customers, will be wearing Brazilian soccer jerseys; kind of an industrial feel for such a small place but also imbued with the festive atmosphere one expects from Brazilians.

Tres Mercados de Ennalls

Tres Mercados de Ennalls

The Ennalls Trio (Latin & American Market, Latino Market, International Market) (25xx Ennalls) — I have to admit I haven’t actually been in any of these three; can’t imagine they are substantially different from La Salvadorenita or Mangos or Mercado Latino.

Mangos, no Papayas

Mangos

Mangos Mercado Latino y Deli (11216 Georgia, in strip anchored by Dunkin’ Donuts) — more fruits and vegetables than La Salvadorenita but otherwise quite similar; mix of Latino and U.S. dry goods, beverages and household products; deli next door looks okay, haven’t tried it.

And that’s it for bodegas. That’s plenty! It would be nice if local demographics resulted in an Indian foods store located in Wheaton…oh well.

Bodegas of Wheaton, Part I

In large U.S. cities like New York, you find little bodegas — convenience stores — on almost every block, selling fruits and vegetables, dried goods, newspapers, odds and ends. Wheaton doesn’t have the density (yet!) to support bodegas on residential blocks, but we nevertheless seem able to support quite a few little stores that are scattered throughout the downtown area. I’m actually surprised there are so many, but most of them are tiny, rents must be fairly low, and there are lots of people around of various ethnicities — or broad culinary interest like me — to support them. As high-rise apartment/condos are built, these little shops could really thrive, though I imagine only some will survive.

There are in fact so many bodegas in Wheaton that I am splitting my review of them into two posts, starting with the ones that are not Latino-oriented. Thus, a mix of Asian, African, and American bodegas are discussed below as Part I.

Everybody Hung Phat Tonight

Hung Phat Market

Hung Phat (11315 Fern) — bursting with mostly Thai or Vietnamese goods that threaten to collapse from crowded shelves down upon unsuspecting shoppers; huge, nearly overwhelming selection of sauces, pastes, and spices; lots of dried/frozen/preserved items; back corner is a pile of dishes, pots and random kitchen implements; small but good produce section; not sure I trust their meat; lots of unusual items like pork or beef blood (fresh and frozen!) or sliced fresh taro root. Good source for limes. Friendly staff, I enjoy shopping here.

The Name Does Not Lie

Asian Foods Market

Asian Foods (2301 University) — Less claustrophobic than Hung Phat, better arranged, more multi-Asian, but not as many excitingly unusual finds; still, they have for example dried chrysanthemum, frozen purple yams, and many rice varieties; authentically average Thai street food, mostly fried things and curries/soups, served from steam tables in the East Wing. And they are incorporated!

Shalom Strictly Kosher

Shalom Strictly Kosher

Shalom Strictly Kosher (2307 University) — Shalom is our go-to source for challah bread (great for French toast — does that make it Israeli toast?); big deli section with all kinds of salads, pastrami and other meats, sandwiches assembled to order; chubbs, whitefish, herring, the usual mix; acceptably good knishes (I am very picky about knishes); lots of meats and dried goods; excellent bakery; everything indeed seems to be strictly kosher; meat looks to be excellent quality and is kind of expensive — I suppose rabbinical supervision does not come cheap. Overall a useful, unique part of Wheaton’s food scene. Max’s Kosher Deli, also good, is next door.

Dessie

Dessie Ethiopian Restaurant and Market

Dessie Ethiopian Restaurant and Market (2655 University, next to Nick’s Diner) — the market is about a third of the space, and bare bones, just a few shelves of injera, unlabeled spices, grains, and a few other items; the restaurant section is bigger but still small, lots of green, a tiny three or four seat bar with a television; I look forward to trying it one of these days (Mrs. Me is not an enthusiastic consumer of Ethiopian food; I’m not crazy about injera but I love the meat and veggie dishes). Not sure I will ever have occasion to shop at the market.

Ethiopia Plus Market

Ethiopia Plus Market

Ethiopia Plus  Market (11303 Georgia) — looks a lot like the market third of Dessie inside, slightly more shelf space but not much difference in contents; with no inviting restaurant included, I am likely to stick with Caramelo Bakery next door when I find myself on this block of Georgia.

Filipino Home Baking & Grocery Store (11222 Triangle Lane, next to Moby Dick) (forgot to take a photo) — I know essentially nothing about Filipino culture but this store does a good job of providing the basics, I would imagine; lots of baked goods, preserved fruit, many varieties of fish in cans, especially competing brands of sardines; freezers full of fish, veggies, and lumpia, the Philippines’ answer to the spring roll. Also some CDs and Filipino accoutrements. Friendly staff.

Amherst 7-Eleven

Old Tired Amherst 7-Eleven

7-Eleven (11445 Amherst, next to Wheaton Post Office; 11406D Georgia) — possibly you are already familiar with these quintessentially American bodegas — although Japan has more of them than does the United States. Slurpee! Sometimes we go here for emergency milk or ice (or Big Gulps), especially now that our Safeway is a Zombie.

New 7-Eleven

Shiny Newish Georgia 7-Eleven

Coming soon: Bodegas of Wheaton, Part II: Los Mercados Latinos