Although the U.S. has several national grocery brands that are easily recognizable regardless of where you shop, each region has its favorites. Americans don't approach grocery shopping the same way wherever they live. Instead, things like the availability of fresh produce and historical trends shape their approach to buying their fridge and pantry essentials.
Cleveland loves Heinen's because it is the perfect representation of the city's love of bakeries and delis. The store is a winner with locals as it offers high-quality local products at affordable prices and beautifully outlined and designed stores that stand out in the neighborhoods. Heinen's is also a favorite in Chicago.
H-E-B doesn't fail to live up to its motto, “Here Everything's Better,” which gives it a loyal following in Texas, akin to Publix in the Southeast or Hy-Vee in the Midwest. The store boasts the best own-brand products in the nation, which some may doubt. Yet the store consistently grabs the top spots on lists of the best regional stores around the U.S., especially because of its in-store tortillerias and the range of its products.
Dorothy Lane Market
Unlike our previous entry, this tiny chain of markets (only three locations) doesn't have an entire state's backing. However, it is beloved in Ohio, especially for its fresh produce, deli section, and in-store bakery. It's been around for more than 80 years, and it's likely to endure for at least 80 more, especially as it doesn't offer many products that are likely to be a waste of money.
Many people on the Eastern Seaboard swear by their local Wegmans. The chain appeals to value-minded shoppers, which has increased its popularity in Western New York and helped it spread up and down the East Coast. The appeal goes beyond its delicious subs. Buyers appreciate the store's no-nonsense approach to quality ingredients at a fair price.
Located in Southern California, Super King accurately depicts the diversity of the area where it opened shop. The store has a wealth of affordable produce grown in the Golden State. It also has a myriad of imported cheeses that locals love.
Fairway is a beloved name in New York City and has mimicked the city's struggles. It defeated bankruptcy to emerge stronger and amaze Manhattan shoppers with its wide range of New York and international offerings. Visiting the store is an experience in itself. With its no-rules approach to displaying products and shopping, its charm partly derives from how different it is from a run-of-the-mill store.
A favorite in the Southeast, Publix is another chain that shoppers often fall in love with because of its incredibly tasty subs. The store has won over Floridians with its delicious Havana Bold sandwiches, affordable prices, and brand quality. Although better known nationally than H-E-B, it inspires the same loyal following.
Stew Leonard's couldn't be more different from the other entries on this list. The Connecticut-based store specializes in dairy, and its loyal customers can also learn how to make mozzarella when they shop. As Stew Leonard's grew and expanded into New York and New Jersey, it started diversifying its offerings with country fair favorites like donuts and popcorn alongside regular produce and meat sections.
Grocery Outlet Bargain Market
As the name suggests, the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, beloved from the Pacific Northwest to California, offers surplus food offerings at reduced prices. Shoppers can find surplus from the likes of Costco and Trader Joe's at affordable prices, making the store a go-to for many penny-pinching families.
Shoppers from Des Moines often descend on Hy-Vee to grab a ready homestyle meal that rivals their childhood's best meals. The store is employee-owned, which adds to its appeal for Midwesterners looking out for their communities. Iowa's loyalty to Hy-Vee is similar to Texas's love of H-E-B, so it's worth a visit to see what it's all about.
Southerners love Piggly Wiggly as much as Southeasterners love Publix, if not more. They love its similarity to farmers markets and the wealth of local produce it sells. It's also a must-go destination for Southern specialties like Tennessee hot sausage. Piggle Wiggly has its own wine cellar, and customers love to pair its delicious wines with fried chicken from the deli department.
Zupan's is one of Portland's favorite stores. It is a draw for shoppers who like nice surroundings and an amazing offering of fresh flowers and plants. The store is eclectic, and prices reflect this. However, it's achieved a loyal following among shoppers who care where their food comes from and that it's ethically sourced.
Jungle Jim's originated in a small suburb of Cincinnati as a farm stand. It sports two locations that draw shoppers and tourists because the aptly named store pulls no punches to attract attention. It sports animatronic animals and a waterfall but also gourmet selections of cheese and wine with in-store tasting events. Don't miss it if you're ever in the Fairfield area.
It's hard to find a location that is more “New Orleans” than Dorignac's. This Metairie market sells such Creole delicacies as original cream cheese, chicory coffee, and po'boy bread. The in-store bakery is a big draw for locals because of its delicious Doberge cakes. For those who love everything Creole, this store is a delightful discovery.
This next location takes us back where we left off with Zupan's. Seattle is the home of the Metropolitan Market, and locals adore how beautiful the store is. Behind the gorgeous flower displays in front of the store is an incredible selection of prime rib sandwiches. This local gem offers something delicious to even the most discerning food lover. Its best dessert is a chocolate and walnut cookie that locals say is the stuff of legends.
Staying in the Pacific Northwest, we head over to Portland's New Seasons. It's beloved in the area, offering high-quality, locally sourced products and a hub for the community. While pricey, the store is homegrown and offers a variety of Pacific Northwest food for which locals are willing to open their purse strings.
As the name implies, Uncle Giuseppe's is a depository of the best Italian cuisine ingredients. A fixture in the New York suburbs where Italian food reigns supreme, the store is the locals' top stop for the best-quality olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes, and delicious Italian desserts.
Hawaii's love of poke is evident in the state's appreciation of Foodland Hawaii. This supermarket sells lots of quality ahi tuna, and you can find it all over the state. Apart from being “Hawaii's Home for Poke,” the store offers an outstanding array of fresh produce and delicious dips. It has served the community for 75 years and even offers “free poke” events on selected dates.
Shoppers can find Lidl stores all over the East Coast, and this European import receives a lot of love. Despite not having much brand recognition in the U.S. (and selling mostly unrecognizable brands), the store draws shoppers with its low prices and high-quality ingredients. The best thing that could happen from the love story between East Coast cooks and Lidl is the latter becoming a national brand.
Mi Tienda is a traditional Mexican supermarket. It has two locations — both beloved additions to the Houston metropolitan area because of their incredible authentic offerings of sweet breads, street foods like gorditas, and menudo. The store offers more than Mexican food, however. This H-E-B-owned supermarket also gives shoppers a taste of Central and South American favorites like quesadilla Salvadoreña.
Bi-Rite Market sells delightful fresh California produce in San Francisco. The store is usually busy year-round, but even more so at the peak of citrus season when its offerings make any other market's pale by comparison. In addition to its incredible produce and fruit selection, Bi-Rite also has an impressive selection of organic cheeses and condiments, with prices to match.
A New England favorite, Market Basket boasts low prices for essentials and offers shoppers a break from the ubiquitous overpriced stores in the area. Although the store's motto is “More for Your Dollar,” it does not skimp on quality, which is why it's a beloved store even for tourists who make the expensive Cape Cod neighborhoods their homes for the summer and want to save money on groceries.
WinCo Foods is another store that prizes itself on offering high quality at affordable prices. As such, it's become a hit in the Western states. Its store-brand products are a staple for many shoppers' pantries, and, much like Market Basket, it's also a favorite with visitors to the expensive area.
Trader Joe's is another favorite with Californians, although it has countless stores nationwide. Locals love its low prices, organic produce, and Customer Choice Awards, which list the nine products its customers would take to a deserted island each year.