In Atlanta, It’s not easy to track down the Filipino dessert halo-halo—a multilayered mashup that can include shredded coconut, jackfruit, shaved ice, cornflakes, evaporated milk, flan, and ube (purple yam) ice cream. That is, unless you happen to be putzing around Manila Mart and know to ask. And while there are plenty of tacos to be found around town, few are better than the ones served at a counter in the back of Supermercado Chicago. Just work your way past the produce section that’s made even more vibrant by the technicolor rows of piñatas dangling above the bananas, limes, and mangos.
If you’re looking for an exceptional—and cheap and fast—sit-down meal, you might do better to skip a restaurant and hit up a grocery store. Cherians International Groceries in Decatur (with a second location in Cumming) is home to an Indian hot bar serving delicacies such as dal vada (fried lentil pastry). At Your DeKalb Farmers Market, the legendary hot bar cradles food from around the globe, from goat stew to potato samosas, jerk chicken to fried okra.
Here are three more of our favorite spots for simultaneously filling your cart and your belly.
Candler Park Market
The market’s long, narrow aisles are stocked with organic produce, locally sourced meats, and plenty of other staples with which to craft a solid meal. Or you could skip all that and make a beeline for the back. There you’ll find the deli, with its handful of red stools and a new chef, Jackie McClaine, who’s whipping up burgers crafted with local, grass-fed beef (or a plant-based Impossible patty); tater tots topped with cheese, scallions, and bacon; and an Italian wedding soup that our restaurant critic adores. McClaine is also working on perfecting her fried chicken and waffles recipe. One of the great things about cooking in a grocery store: “If I run out of something,” she says, “I can always run out to the front and grab it.” 1642 McLendon Avenue, 404-373-9787
Tucked in a strip mall, Mediterranean Bakery is easy to overlook—in which case you’ll be missing out on some of the finest chicken shawarma in town. The aisles are stocked with sometimes hard-to-find Middle Eastern staples such as pomegranate molasses and the spice mix za’atar, and the refrigerated cases bear gifts such as containers of stuffed grape leaves and vats of hummus. But, as the man who rings up the groceries and the lunch orders confirms, you’re here for the chicken shawarma. “Let me make you one, please,” he insists. 3362 Chamblee Tucker Road, Doraville, 770-220-0706
E. 48th Street Market
Behind the two-pound bags of Lavazza beans, the housemade sausages, and the imported olive oil, a deli counter offering Sicilian, Tuscan, and Piedmontese dishes awaits. Italian-American owners Charlie and Anita Augello met in grade school in New York City and modeled their charming market after the ones they frequented growing up. Try the Sicilian lasagna made with beef and mild Italian sausage, or choose among the whopping 26 hero sandwiches served on house-baked bread, from the Stoffato (stuffed with salami, mortadella, capicola, provolone, and special sauce) to a simple prosciutto with fresh mozzarella and olive oil. Finish your meal with a cappuccino and cannoli, then grab a pound of fresh Calabrian chilies and a bottle of red on your way out. 2462 Jett Ferry Road, Dunwoody, 770-392-1499
This article appears in our March 2019 issue.