Updated: Aug 23, 2020
Updated 8/23/2020 --
Whether you're wanting to experience new flavors and culture, or, reminisce in culinary comforts from a home far away, here we've gathered a list of Ethnic Markets and Groceries in Charleston, organized by area, that represent the growing diversity throughout the metropolitan region. Be sure to check back as we'll continue adding to this list. Cheers!
If you're new to any one of these stores, no need to feel intimidated. I've had success with saying, "Hi, I'm new to this type of cuisine, what are the quintessential things for me to try, or, what dish are you proudest of -- I'll have that."
Also, put in your basket whatever strikes your fancy. Maybe you'll have discovered your new favorite candy bar, tea, or sauce. Or, it could be a funny flop and story for later! We bought "Spotted Dick Sponge" at Harris Teeter because of a laugh and curiosity -- it ended up being a really tasty treat.
El Molino - 1610 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., Grocer + Take-Out
Say Hello + Thank You! in Spanish! - "Hola" + "Gracias!" Awesome butcher; Take-out/sit-out restaurant with tacos, torta, queso and burritos, Heladeria (ice cream + cold bev bar); Large selection of meats to take with chimichurri; Grocery aisles; and a Fresh bakery. Whew, that was a mouthful -- but it is as it should be when it comes to food! Wonderfully bright and clean, this one is quite new as of Summer 2020, so stop by and welcome them to the neighborhood.
Euro Foods - 1664 Old Town Road - Hello + Thank You Say Hello + Thank You in Ukrainian! -"Pryvit" + "Spasybi" ... in Georgian -"Gamarjoba" + "Madloba"
It is so great to see Euro Foods grow over the years! Euro Foods in their new space now has a cafe/dining menu along with their great cheese and cured meats. You'll find a lot of Eastern European comfort-food offerings both in the grocery and at the cafe.
India Spice - 1694 Old Town Road
Grocery + One of the best places to pick up home-cooked Indian food and Indian street-food. You can call ahead and see what the owner has in the cooler today, and take it home, mama-style.
H&L Asian Market - 5300 Rivers Ave.
Say Hello + Thank You in Chinese! -"Ni hao" + "Xiexie" The Mac Daddy, and largest and most extensive Asian market in town. In addition to the grocery, they have home goods and kitchenware, as well as a restaurant with renown Pho.
Try: Jufran, a banana-based, ketchup-like sauce from the Philippines. Any snack or candy; produce and fruit.
Saigon Supermarket - 7671 Northwoods Blvd.
Say Hello + Thank You in Vietnamese! -"Xin Chao" + "Cam on Ban"
This is the earliest market I remember going to, while growing up in Charleston. Our dad would call the owners before driving over, to see what time they'll be bringing back a fresh catch of shrimp or crabs for the day. Saigon Supermarket is located right by the Ice Palace, with nearby restaurant Mei Thai (not affiliated with Saigon). Mei Thai serves asian fusion, and is, most endearingly, our favorite Filipino restaurant in town.
Places Still on our List to Try:
Bombay Bazar + Indian Restaurant - 6216 Rivers Ave. Chihuahua Super Market - 3387 Ashley Phosphate Road
Krishna Grocery - 2110 Greenridge Road
La Mexicana Supermarkets - 5335 Dorchester Road + 2665 Ashley Phosphate Road La Tapatia II - 6593 Dorchester Road
Trader Joe's - 401 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
A beloved, Tiki-styled place with associates wearing fun hawaiian print shirts. They offer a variety of cuisine, sauces, and groceries from all types of cultures. This is a relative of Aldi.
Try: Pork belly + Broccolini. Trader-Joe's-branded Japanese Yuzu Sauce and Miso Soup. 2-buck-chuck Wine. Columbus Dry Salami + Cheeses for your charcuterie board. And in their frozen food section, their French offerings: The Tartlette Pizzas, Macarons, and Boeuf Bourguignon.
Venta De - 1035 Hwy 17
We've still got to check out this place -- what do you think?
Goose Creek + Hanahan + Ladson
LIDL - 435 St. James Ave., Goose Creek
We love LIDL! A German-based grocery store located throughout the EU, that since 2017 has locations in the US. It may be out of the way for most people, but each time we go it is worth the drive. They offer a range from small brands to regular, household names, and your grocery essentials plus select home and office goods. Bring your own grocery bags or be prepared to purchase at the counter. If and when you hop over the pond to Europe, you'll likely find a location near you -- a feeling akin to seeing a creature comfort while away.
Try: The fresh and very well-priced bakery, Escargot - yes, snails!, and international wine.
Brazilian Market - 225 Red Bank Rd., Goose Creek
Brazilian Buffet Bakery - 1258 Red Bank Rd., Goose Creek -
Say Hello + Thank You in Portuguese! "Ola!" + "Obrigado" if you are a male, "Obrigada" if you are female.
Try: Linguica de Porco Sausage, Guarana Brazilian Soda, Pao de Queijo (yummy cheesy bread), Fandango Corn Chips
Places Still on our List to Try:
Centro Americano - 113 College Park Rd., Ladson
Guadalajara Supermarket - 220 Redbank Rd. Goose Creek
La Tapatia - 1282 Yeamans Hall Rd., Hanahan
Markets throughout Charleston, with Great International Food Sections:
Aldi - One Location in Mt. Pleasant, Two Locations in Summerville
Another German-based chain with locations throughout the world, Aldi, in their own words, are a "no-frills" grocery store stocked with plenty of your needs -- including seemingly random camping gear and car accessories . Bring a quarter -- yes, a 25c coin -- in order to check out one of the shopping carts, a feature which supposedly spares an employee from corralling the carts.
Harris Teeter - Various Locations
Try: Located in their International Section: Spotted Dick Sponge. Any of the Indian and Thai sauces. Ice Cream Section: Sambazon's Chocolate-covered Acai bars.
Publix - Various Locations Try: Chorizo in the meat section or Chicken thighs + Walkerswood-Brand Jamaican Jerk sauce, either of those proteins paired with Publix-brand Frozen Maduros/Plantains.
These stores are trouble - so many great finds for the home and your closet:
TJX: Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Home Goods - West Ashley, Summerville, Mt. Pleasant The gourmet food section has a wonderful variety, in aesthetically pleasing packaging = pastas, oils, candies, these make for great and unique gifts.
World Market / Cost Plus - West Ashley and Summerville Try: Japanese Matcha Tea, Mochi, and browse their diverse wine selection, cookies, chips, and candy!
Have we missed any other international markets and groceries? Reach out to us, we'd love to visit them and share here!