A Guide to West Michigan’s Ethnic Food Markets

If you’re looking to prepare a worldly dish without the hassle of leaving West Michigan, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here’s a shortlist of places to score everything from authentic Mediterranean to some legit kielbasa sausage.  

Mi Favorita
408 Columbia Ave, Holland
(616) 355-1993

If your idea of having Mexican food at home involves a drive-thru window and a high school kid asking you, “Hot or mild sauce?” maybe you should stop in Holland for the real deal. Mi Favorita is a one-stop shop for all things delectable in Mexican cuisine – whether you’re grabbing something hot and ready off the take-out menu or rounding up ingredients to make the best tacos anybody has ever eaten right in your own kitchen.

Thinking of whipping up your own traditional Mexican soup? If menudo or pozole is in your near future, Mi Favorita’s may be the place to start. The market stocks of authentic Mexican grocery items as well as its fresh meat, poultry and vegetables, making it easy to round up all of the ingredients. While you’re there, snag some Mexican snacks and Mexican Coca-Cola.

You may want to give its homemade salsa and guacamole a try, too. Or maybe grab a warm cup of champurrado while you peruse the produce section in search of the perfect pico de gallo ingredients. And if you happen to visit Mi Favorita on a day that they’ve made some of their wondrous tamales, don’t pass them up.

Mediterranean Island
Towne & Country Shopping Center, 4301 Kalamazoo Ave SE # 7, Grand Rapids
(616) 281-8151

Mediterranean Island is truly an eccentric grocery store. It sports a wide variety of products from Turkish delight to toothpaste and hookahs.

It’s eclectic. That’s what sets this market apart. It boasts a number of aisles stocked with not only Mediterranean grocery items, but with products from around the world. And aside from stocking imported items they also carry more traditional necessities like produce, fresh breads, bulk nuts and dairy products. This could serve as your primary grocery stop.

Just don’t leave Mediterranean Island without scoping out its deli. You’ll definitely want to give its hummus a try, or maybe one of its varieties of olives. Oh, and don’t forget about the kibbeh, samosas and the mujadara.
Then take your time wandering down the aisles to really take in all that is offered. Honey with honeycomb? Check. More varieties of pastas and oils than you know what to do with? You bet. “What is this and what do I use it for?” Yep, there’s plenty of that, too.

Valy Vietnamese Oriental Food and Gifts
147 3rd St, Muskegon
(231) 722-7000

There’s a lot packed into a relatively small space at this quaint market in Muskegon.

But don’t let the “Vietnamese” in the name fool you. Its extensive offerings include products from Japan, China, Korea and the Philippines. There’s a plethora of sauces, snacks, packaged soups, canned and fresh vegetables and Asian drinks. The frozen section offers various meats, seafood, poultry and Asian ice cream. It stocks pre-made egg rolls or crab rangoons to take home, heat up and enjoy.

The owner, Nga Nguyen, will offer helpful hints, ingredient suggestions, as well as actual recipes if you’re new to the whole authentic Asian cooking thing. Want to know how to make a tasty miso sauce? Or maybe some spring rolls with seaweed that you won’t be embarrassed to serve to your friends? Just ask Nguyen and she’ll give you direction.

World of Spices
5911 S Westnedge Ave, Portage
(269) 381-2913

Walking through the door of this small, almost easy-to-miss Indian market is like delivering a gift-wrapped hug to your nose. The olfactory wonderment you are greeted with brings happiness to your soul and saliva to your mouth.

World of Spices is the place to go stock up on the spices you need that would otherwise cost a fortune at large chain supermarkets. It’s also the place to go to procure specialty ingredients that may be difficult, if not impossible, to find elsewhere. Does the cashier at Walmart look at you like you just rode in on the bus from WTFville when you ask if they have any fenugreek? Then pay a visit to World of Spices.

It also carries a variety of Indian snacks, frozen food items, cookbooks and helpful advice to assist you in creating a culinary masterpiece. So whether you’re looking for naan bread, mango pickles, a mortar and pestle or a copy of The Curry Bible, you’ll almost certainly meet most of your Indian food needs here.

Pacific Rim Foods
1926 Whites Rd, Kalamazoo
(269) 382-0888

Let’s just get this right out in the open. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a market with a better selection of Asian foods and products than that offered by Pacific Rim Foods in Kalamazoo. In fact, if you’re not a seasoned veteran of Asian cooking, it may be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to make sense of what the labels say.

The shelves and coolers are packed with thousands of items. There’s an obscene variety of instant noodles, rice, cooking oils and grass jelly. They also stock  a selection of Asian beers and other adult beverages.

The best time to visit Pacific Rim Foods is right after it’s received its Friday afternoon shipments from Chicago. That’s when you’ll have the opportunity to pick up all manner of fresh, seasonal and ready-made foods. There’s a variety: live blue crab, chicken feet dim sum and fresh dragon fruit – to only name a few.

Regardless, Pacific Rim Foods is your go to for both your everyday and impossible to find Asian needs, whether it’s as simple as a bottle of soy sauce or you’re on the hunt for some tripe or pig ears.

Lewandoski’s Market
1107 Walker Ave NW, Grand Rapids
(616) 454-2281

Much like Tenacious D, sometimes all you can think about is kielbasa sausage. Fortunately, when this happens, we have Lewandoski’s Market in Grand Rapids to turn to satisfy our desire for mouth-watering meats.

Lewandoski’s know how important garlic is in the Polish sausage equation. This ensures a liberal amount of fresh garlic finds its way into the mix for a truly authentic flavor. Its kielbasa is some of the best you’ll ever have.

And while Lewandoski’s is certainly known for tits kielbasa, that’s not the only meaty goodness escaping from this friendly neighborhood market. You can get everything from thick cut steaks to spicy hot sticks.