It may sound silly to non-foodies, but grocery shopping is more than just a chore. In fact, it can actually be fun—especially at a supermarket you love. Whether it’s one that has the *best* fresh bread in town or one where your mom used to push you around in the cart as a kid, the humble grocery store can be a delicious escape from the daily grind. Here are 13 chains across the country that our editors adore, from East Coast darling Wegmans to Illinois gem Sunset Foods.
The Best Grocery Stores Across the U.S., According to Our Opinionated Editors
This chain began back in 1905 in Texas Hill Country. Today, there are more than 430 locations across Texas and Mexico. “Ugh, I miss H-E-B so, so much,” laments commerce editor Olivia Dubyak. “My husband and I would literally go on two-hour grocery shopping trips on Sundays, just to browse and walk through the store. It was like a comfort thing we ended up doing.” Dubyak swears by the store’s in-house brand, especially the fresh tortillas and sushi bar.
This chain has more than 110 stores across the East Coast from Massachusetts to Virginia. Those lucky enough to live near one know the magic of the bakery, beer aisle, candy section and cult-favorite cheese department (c’mon, the stores have climate-controlled cheese caves inside). “I’m a Wegmans girly now,” says senior food editor Katherine Gillen. “It needs little explanation, but everything is perfect, from the produce selection to the prices to the sushi department—although, they could stand to bring back the Caesar salad bar.”
3. Trader Joe’s
It’s no secret: We adore Trader Joe’s. And we’re guessing most Americans do too, considering there are locations in 43 U.S. states. “Nothing brings me more joy than casually perusing the aisles of TJ’s and discovering something new pretty much every time I shop,” raves director of affiliate strategy Pam Masin. “They practically transformed mornings with Everything But the Bagel seasoning, made cauliflower trendy before anyone else (cauliflower gnocchi!) and have such a variety of packaged produce and frozen foods for quick weeknight dinners.” Try the cacio e pepe puffs and PB&J snack duo—thank us later.
Masin is also a fan of Stew Leonard’s, a dairy store-turned-supermarket that’s famous for its extensive wine selection and farm animal theme. “I wish I lived closer to one, but when I’d visit family in Long Island, I’d always stop [in] their bakery section,” she says. Unlike other large chains, Stew Leonard’s only carries 2,200 items, so the selection is more curated. Senior SEO editor Alexia Dellner frequents the chain as well, saying, “It’s especially fun to go to if you have kids because they have animatronic animals above the shelves. Their chips and baked goods are also 100.”
5. H Mart
Noodles, seaweed snacks, the biggest jar of kimchi you’ve ever seen—these are only a few of the goodies you can add to your cart at this Korean market. “I believe most of their stores are on the East Coast though they do have many locations on the West Coast and in a few bigger cities, like Houston and Illinois,” explains beauty director Jenny Jin. “I love being able to get all the yummy Korean snacks from my childhood, and they usually carry other fun odds and ends, like beauty products, dishware and cleaning supplies. Also, their produce section is well-stocked and reasonably priced, which drives shoppers who aren’t looking for specifically Asian or Korean products to their stores, or so I’ve been told.”
California has no shortage of great grocery stores (including L.A.’s celeb-loved Erewhon, home of $20 smoothies and TikTok influencer collabs). But for authentic Mexican food, nothing beats Northgate. “They’re much more affordable and have lots of Mexican ingredients you won’t find elsewhere, like banana leaves or marinated carne asada,” explains senior editor Dara Katz. Go for pantry staples like piloncillo, produce like fresh nopales and Mexican baked goods like conchas. “Grocery shopping aside, the hot kitchen is where it’s at, especially the chiles rellenos and pollo asado.” (Personally, we’re drooling over the pan de elote, which is made daily with fresh corn.)
If you’re someone who loves a bargain, look no further than ALDI, a shockingly affordable grocery chain with locations in every state from Middle America to the East Coast, plus California and Arizona. “[ALDI] taught me that I don’t always have to rely on name brand products in order to get delicious groceries,” says associate editor Chelsea Candelario. We’re particularly fond of their cheeses, organic produce, eggs and pantry staples, which will cost you less than at big-brand stores. “I love how sustainable they are. They don’t provide any bags and you have to either pack [groceries] in boxes or bring your own reusable bags. Also, they are one of the few or maybe the only chain I’ve seen that lets their cashiers sit while they’re at the register. More places should do that!”
With locations in 16 states, mainly across the South and Midwest, Kroger is known for its massive store brand selection (hello, discounts), exceptional customer service and a stellar loyalty program that hooks shoppers up with tons of deals. Take their banner brands into consideration, like Ralphs and Food4Less, and their influence extends to 35 states. While the stores are sprawled, senior food editor and Ohio native Katherine Gillen sings Kroger’s praises for their hyper-local selection. “Some of the bigger ones have Murray’s Cheese bars within the store, and where else can you get Skyline [chili] in cans and Graeter’s ice cream for an actually reasonable price?”
9. Sunset Foods
Chicago residents are lucky to have access to this grocer’s five locations. The family-owned chain was founded in 1937 and has since become a cornerstone of the community. The diverse, varied food selection is nothing to sneer at, but what really makes Sunset special is its employees. “It’s got everything a normal supermarket would have, but it’s retained its old-school customer service,” explains senior editor Dara Katz. “Not in a fake, over-the-top way, but in how they actually bring your bags to your car if you need, and how they’ll actually take customer feedback or special-order products.”
Founded back in 1930, Publix boasts 1,333 stores across the Southeast, more than half of those in its home state of Florida. It also happens to be the largest employee-owned company in the world. “It’s clean, well-organized (and thus easy to navigate), but really, any fan knows the true gems are the deli and bakery sections,” notes VP of editorial Candace Davison. “The chocolate chip cookies might just be better than your mom’s (sorry, Mom) and the Pub Subs have such a cult following that people have made merch to pay tribute to it. Order a Buffalo chicken tenders sub [with] all the veggies and a little ranch, and you’ll understand.”
11. The Fresh Market
“Fresh Market is a big one where I’m from,” says Tallahassee-born senior editor of branded content and cohost of Royally Obsessed Roberta Fiorito. With locations in 22 states across the East Coast, South and Midwest, the chain is modeled after European-style markets with on-site butchers, hand-picked produce and fresh cut flowers. “It feels like the upscale version of Whole Foods and has the best candy setups for every holiday, plus a gorgeous bakery and floral section and literal BARRELS of coffee beans that make the whole store smell so good,” Fiorito says. While you’re there, be sure to sip a free sample of freshly brewed java, and don’t overlook the hot bar. “The prepared foods [are] better than most of the restaurants nearby,” she adds.
12. 99 Ranch Market
Consider this Asian supermarket chain, founded by a Taiwanese immigrant, the West Coast’s version of H Mart (although there are locations in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia). According to associate editor of SEO Marissa Wu, the chain has “pretty much anything you could ever need for any Asian dish, plus all the snacks (lychee jelly cups and Yan Yans, IYKYK). The place is HUGE, and I have yet to find another store that matches the size and vastness.” Go for international flavors of Lay’s potato chips, sushi-grade fish, fresh pastries, exotic produce and all the chile crisp your heart desires.
Exclusive to Indiana and Michigan, Martin’s prides itself on working with local farmers and purveyors to stock its shelves. Complete with a bakery, convenience store, café, butcher shop, deli, sushi station and flower market, this smaller chain is anything but limited. Martin’s also has a superb range of craft beers, many sourced from local breweries like New Holland, Saugatuck, and Goose Island. “They always had the best selection of Bell’s beer when I was in college and trying to pretend I liked beer,” says senior food editor Katherine Gillen. Crack a Two Hearted IPA for us, will ya?
Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.