The variety and value of foods at Royal Market & Bakery, a mid-sized Armenian store, might be overwhelming. For lovers of Eastern European food, it’s a great place, bright and well-kept unlike the other Eastern European markets on Geary, says rworange.
The deli section features hot and cold foods, including salads and spreads, but the star is the lahmajoun, a.k.a. “Armenian pizza,” two pillow-soft pitas, each thinly spread with a garlicky ground meat blend, rworange says. The roasted baked baby eggplant is also lovely, she adds, with subtle flavors and a ground-nut filling that’s as light as mousse.
Whole fresh sturgeon dominate the seafood case, ready to be cut into steaks. They looked stellar and buttery, says rworange. Melanie Wong notes that they stock crawfish from Armenia, but apparently they’re not always live. There’s also a smoked-fish counter.
If you’ve shopped in Eastern European markets, you largely know what to expect here: cheeses, yogurts and frozen dumplings; cold cuts and pickles; Georgian wines. It’s just that Royal doesn’t stop at the usual suspects, and has more services, like the in-house bakery that makes breads, piroshki, and pastries; and the butcher counter with fresh and marinated meats (rather than just cryovacked packets of meat) and some unusual sausages. You can even have them cook up some luleh kebabs, made of spiced ground meat.
There is also kvass, which is “a fizzy drink made from fermented bread and can taste like a lovely fizzy apple soda or the drink from hell,” as rworange says.
Prices on produce are terrific, and the fruits and vegetables are very fresh.
Royal Market & Bakery [Richmond District]
5335 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco