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The Food Lover’s Guide: Ethnic Shops
The family-owned Mexican supermarket sells meats like pig’s feet, tripe, and snout; nearly a dozen fresh chiles and ground spices; and produce, including chayote, tomatillos, and yucca. Pick up some premade masa to make tortillas at home. » 7420 Florence Ave., Downey, 562-776-0246; 7223 S. Compton Ave., South L.A., 323-587-2889.
This Greek market attached to the beloved Papa Cristo’s restaurant has been in business for 61 years. There’s nothing like real imported feta, which crumbles with a fork and melts on the tongue. You’ll find it here, along with olives, flatbreads, chickpea flours, and other regional foodstuffs. » 2771 W. Pico Blvd., L.A., 323-737-2970.
Han Kook Market
Campanile’s Mark Peel is one of many chefs who swear by Han Kook’s fabulous Korean noodles and condiments as well as its peerless selection of fresh and dried mushrooms, greens, and other produce. Providence’s Michael Cimarusti loves the fresh seafood. » 124 N. Western Ave., Koreatown, 323-469-8934.
India Sweets & Spices
Don’t let the cluttered aisles scare you. They’re overflowing with fragrant spices like Garam masala and star anise, ghee, and housewares. The vegetarian cafeteria next door showcases the goodies in action. » 3126 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Feliz, 323-345-0360.
99 Ranch Market
The Taiwanese-owned chain is an all-purpose Asian supermarket that carries Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese specialties. A wide range of noodles, meat and vegetarian meatlike products as well as stir-fry-friendly produce are well priced.