At these area grocers, international delights require no plane ticket.
803 2nd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids
Bring any Asian-inspired recipe to Saigon Market, and their friendly staff will happily help you navigate the store’s shelves to find the ingredients you need. From daikon radish to juicy lychee, Saigon Market is Cedar Rapids’ oasis for fresh, unique produce on a budget. The grocery’s lower level boasts a myriad of sauces, spices and fresh noodles. The upper level offers a selection of dishware to serve your delicious, umami-filled meals. On your way out, hit the beverage cooler for a refreshing can of sweet basil seed drink—the gelatinous little seeds pop between your teeth!
2208 540th St, Kalona
Forget Costco—Stringtown Grocery is the O.G. wholesale grocer of Eastern Iowa. Located in Kalona, Stringtown Grocery is an Amish owned and operated business, where savvy shoppers stock up on spices, meats, cheeses and baking supplies, all in bulk quantities. Their trademark blue handwritten label affixed to each bag of goods is practically Instagram-ready. Don’t plan on paying with a credit card at this grocery store, because it’s off the electrical grid. But you can always count on a hitch out front to park your horse.
89 2nd St, Coralville
If you smell fresh pita when you step into Global Mart, you aren’t mistaken. Past the shelves of Mediterranean and halal foods, flatbreads rise in a wood-fired oven, ready to bite into in seconds. This grocery, located on the Coralville strip, supplies a number of Middle Eastern staples, like halva, a fudge-like, gluten-free sweet made with ground sesame seeds. When school is out for the afternoon, the shop owner’s two young children stop by to lend a hand, peeking around store corners with curiosity as you shop. Global Mart is a family-run place, and you and your senses will feel welcomed as such as soon as you walk in.
1937 Keokuk St, Iowa City
Located just south of downtown Iowa City, Acapulco 2’s Mexican pan dulce will tempt you not only with the promise of a sweet treat, but with its colorful, streusel-like coatings. These freshly baked goods arrive daily from a sister bakery in West Liberty. Meander toward the back of this Mexican grocery store to discover an extensive meat counter complete with chorizo, pork al pastor, and thin cuts of beef — often called for in Mexican cooking—custom sliced by the butcher. Above you, a rainbow of piñatas gently sway from the ceiling.
624 S Gilbert St, Iowa City
Asian Market may not be the most comprehensive Asian grocery in Iowa City, but it sells the essentials—rice and noodles, a small selection of produce and cuts of beef for your next bulgogi. Nestled alongside Korean BBQ on Gilbert Street, Asian Market is the only Asian grocery store within walking distance of downtown. Before you reach for a thirty-two ounce jar of delicious Korean kimchi, think again, and grab the half gallon jar instead.
Taj International Food
2419 2nd St Ste 2, Coralville
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A recent move has drawn Taj International Food out of a hidden, tucked away storefront in an old strip mall to a new and visible location a little further west down the Coralville strip. This small store has shelves packed with all manner of spices, rices and mixes to execute your favorite aromatic Indian dish at home, and whether you’re looking for fresh paneer, mango pulp or a big box of Masala Chai, you’re sure to find it here.
Iowa City Halal and Grocery
1806 Boyrum St, Iowa City
This recently opened grocer on the south-side of Iowa City is the place to go for certified halal foods and meats. Imported shelf-stable products from the Middle East, North Africa and India make up the majority of the offerings available, with a smattering of fresh and frozen goods as well; this market sells only halal foods and products. At the store’s meat counter, you’ll find a nice selection—cuts of lamb, beef and chicken are available for purchase, but no pork as it is a haram (dis-allowed or forbidden) food.
The friendly owners and staff are welcoming and helpful to those in need of assistance and are ready to provide cooking advice for any of the items that pique your curiosity.