Markets & Stores

The Rainbow Grocery thread - what to buy?

rworange | Apr 13, 200908:36 PM     40

Rainbow Grocery gets reccomended often when people are looking for specific items.

However, what specifically is good there? What should be avoided.

As of this date Yelp has almost 700 posts about Rainbow. I gave up reading them at about 80 because they all said the same general thing ... outstanding bulk section, high prices, no meat sold, bad parking, and personal comments about the staff.

But WHAT are the outstanding, amazing bulk items?

I went Saturday to check out the bulk sauerkraut.

The last time I went to Rainbow was probably around the time it opened at the current location. I swear at the time they had NO parking at all ... no garage on the side.

What attracted me this time is that they sell Rancho Gordo beans in bulk, They aren't any less expensive, but I like the idea of being able to try out small quantities of the beans.

The black olives with cumin are really swell with a nice spicy burn. the olives with cinnamon and cardamom were fine, but sounded more interesting

How is the Trader Point whole milk and yogurt? I don't think I've seen another place sell St. Benoit yogurt in quart mason jars ... not even the farmers markets I frequent. For St Benoit, it was a really good price.

I never even heard of raw colostrum milk. It sounds scary.

I know this is a long shot and I should just pick some up next time, but has anyone tried something called 'Inka'? It is a mix of barley, rye, chicory, beet root powder. It seems to be mixed with water to make some sort of porridge?

Maybe Saturday is the big sample day, but they really, really had lots of free samples. What I liked best was Marieke raw milk gouda with foenegreek which is aged on pine planks imported from Holland.

I may be wrong, but produce didn't seem to be a strength and it seemed even more pricey than Whole Foods. However, there were quite a few yelp comments that while the selection was small it was very good.

They really have a big selection of wheat free bread and baked goods

They sell Primavera tortillas. They also sell Tortilla Factory organic tortillas, but they have guar gum in them. I haven't seen Grindstone Bakery breads at markets where I usually shop.

They even have cooking demos some times. On March 7th they had a demo down the street at Chez Spencer by Bryant Terry, author of Vegan Soul Kitchen

A few things I gleaned from reading the Rainbow website and reapeated comments on yelp.

- they have a cheese registry where if you are in the store and find a cheese you like they will record it so you don't forget. I wish Cheeseboard had something like this as I often forget what I tried and liked.

- ask and you can get a sample of any cheese

- they will special order items and they have a pretty good turn around, usually a few days

- On Wednesday and Thursday there is a 20% discount using a coupon found in the AT&T yellow pages of the phone book. It is a zoo on coupon night

- there is a Bakery Delivery Schedule on the website so you can tell when each bread is delivered

- there is a discount if you bring your own containers. If you bring a heavy container like glass, take it to the customer service desk to get weighed and they will mark it so the weight is subtracted.

- There are a number of discounts for various groups such as the SF Bike Coalition, senior citizens, etc

- additional parking spaces available every day of the week from 12 noon to 8pm. The garage is located at 1748 Folsom (across Folsom Street from Rainbow).

While the staff is great, it is hard to believe there is a place where the customers are more, uh, preoccupied than either Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl. It is like Berkeley Bowl before the move on steroids. The pattern seems to be for people to stand in the middle of narrow aisles and strategically place their cart to block whatever remaining room there is. They then peer endlessly at the shelves, oblivious to anyone around them. The poor dears obviously have hearing problems as well so the only way to get by is to enunciate clearly and loudly “Excuse me” ... a number of times.

So, what have I missed. What do you specifically recommend to buy ... or avoid.

Rainbow Grocery
1745 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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