Following the advice of a poster, I just went to Fairfax Deli on P and 22nd. Wow, it was awesome. It's a tiny little place with windows covered with beer signs - looks like your standard Ave. A bodega - but it had a really wide selection of great and interesting stuff. What a find!
Here are some examples of what they had, in addition to all the normal stuff: little jars of both red and black lumpfish caviar for under $7; a variety of both Walkers and Peak Freen (sp?) cookies; different brands of ful, tahini, etc; packs of zatar inches away from bags of five-inch tall dried chiles; canned artichoke hearts, artichoke bottoms, jars of at least two different kinds of marinated artichoke hearts; hearts of palm in jars, in cans, and chopped up; in the refrigerator case, those commonly-sold packages (I forget the brand, but they have it at Safeway) of Genoa salami, prosciutto, pancetta, etc.; a variety of olive oils, vinegars and balsamic vinegars; and on and on. There was also a small portion of the store where the shelves were empty, and the owner told me he was going to to fill it with all sorts of gourmet food "from all over Europe." He also told me he'd order anything customers asked for.
Caveat - the jars and cans on the shelves were at least a bit dusty. That always turns me off, although I don't know what it means - is the stuff older than at other stores, or do other stores just dust their merchandise more often? And the food was not always perfectly cared for - I did see jars of balls of labne rolled in herbs and stored in olive oil that were on the shelves although the labels very clearly said "keep refrigerated." And I actually had no money on me, so I couldn't buy anything to see whether it was good despite the dust or whatever.
But even the dust couldn't keep me from raving to the owner about what a great place it was. Okay, so I wouldn't buy those labne/oil balls - and really, how many open-late, beer-sign delis do you know of that even stock such a product, even if not in the right spot?
So I'm really excited about this find, and I'd encourage everyone else in the Dupont area to check it out. I don't know why the owner (who said he'd been there for 27 years) doesn't make it more clear to passersby that he runs a great and inexpensive gourmet shop, but I'm really grateful to the poster who advised me yesterday to take a look at it.
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