Primi Piatti Market, Holiday Market Select, Papa Joe’s Market, Market Square…discover why foodies flock to Birmingham’s gourmet food markets. The holiday season is the perfect time to pop in to pick up the ingredients for a home-cooked meal, or perhaps a home-heated meal…just as delicious without the hassle.
I don’t cook. Well, I rarely cook. I’ll do five courses for a 20-guest dinner party, but I won’t put together a complete meal for my family every night. The payoff just isn’t there for me. I’m fortunate to live in an area that offers a wide selection of food options within walking distance, so I can go as healthy or indulgent as I feel at that moment. Spoiler: I too often go for indulgent.
In an effort to curb my habit of dining out, I joined a 30-day boot camp that includes a meal plan with cook-at-home recipes. Not only will I be eating at home regularly, I’ll also be eating healthier. This will challenge me to my core — I’m a working mom and all about convenience. I’ve grown very comfy navigating the local restaurant and take-out scene, but I’m admittedly less familiar with our grocery stores.
Even in childhood, I hated grocery shopping. The giant shopping carts with the broken wheels, the never-ending aisles lit with fluorescent lights, the long wait at checkout – I’ll have none of it. That’s why, with my new shopping list in hand, I set out to find my ingredients at the locally owned markets around Birmingham, which offer an entirely different type of shopping experience.
Primi Piatti Market
550 North Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham. Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am – 7pm; Saturday 10am – 5pm; Sunday 12pm – 3pm
Is it possible to have a crush on a store? The cozy and immensely welcoming Primi Piatti Market is a little piece of Italian heaven here in the Detroit area. It’s clear this place runs on love. Along with an impressive selection of meats, cheeses, oils, seasonings, gluten-free pastas (that are legitimately delicious), and other pantry essentials, you’ll find unique glassware, quaint linens and hand-crafted décor pieces to dress your table.
But, the stars of the show are the freshly made pastas and sauces. Seven flavors of pasta and three sauces are made from scratch every day. You can even pick up a special order with just an hour’s notice.
There’s also a handful of ready-made options like meatballs, soups and lasagna. I couldn’t resist the pumpkin lasagna, so my own cooking from scratch will have to wait another day.
Visit the store for Tasting Tuesdays when owner Monica prepares food with ingredients from the shelves, or stop by on Sundays when her handmade ravioli is available.
The food at Primi Piatti is delicious and authentic, but the staff really impressed me. They are not just knowledgeable and helpful, but seem to sincerely enjoy their jobs…so much that it made my entire experience that much more enjoyable. I’ll definitely be back this Sunday for the ravioli.
Holiday Market Select
1740 West Maple Road, Birmingham. Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11am – 8pm
A small and extremely convenient shop, Holiday Market Select offers “select” products (hence the name) from the flagship Royal Oak location. You get the same great fare, just closer to home.
While there, I spoke with Mike, the store manager, who explained that you’ll find “not everything you need, but everything you want.” It’s the perfect description.
The store reminds me of specialty food markets in New York. There’s not a ton of square footage, so you make it count and offer exactly what your customers want. In this case, it’s plenty of prepared “grab and go” foods, including favorites such as turkey meatloaf, chicken pot pies and a fresh salad station.
There’s also a small selection of grocery staples like fresh produce, dairy and dry goods. You’ll also find craft beer, wine and all the fixings for the perfect cocktail to complete your meal, including locally bottled Our/Detroit vodka.
This is the place I’ll hit up when I want a tasty dinner at home on the fly.
Papa Joe’s Market
34244 Woodward Avenue, Birmingham. Hours: Monday to Saturday, 8am – 9pm; Sunday, 9am – 7pm
On the other end of the size spectrum is Papa Joe’s Market, an upscale market that features an array of organic products. This store has everything. Everything. Their seafood selection is the best I’ve seen locally, and they make their own desserts, even wedding cakes. Expert sommeliers are on staff to help you select from their expansive wine offerings. Florists can design your entire event or a simple centerpiece for an intimate dinner. You can even host an event on site. Book the Mezzanine for up to 100 guests or the Chef’s Table for up to 12. As I said, this place really has it all. If you don’t have time to stroll the plentiful aisles, you can even order online or download their new mobile app.
I’ll likely come here when I’m in the mood to throw a party for the books.
1964 Southfield Road, Birmingham. Hours: Monday to Saturday, 8am – 9pm; Sunday, 9am – 7pm
Market Square has been serving its community for nearly 30 years. And, they’re firm believers in community. They offer a wide range of products that are a direct reflection of their customers’ wants and needs. That means you’ll find a plethora of locally produced items, including Ethel’s gluten-free baked goods, pure honey, pickles, BBQ sauce and more.
There’s even an entire section devoted to Michigan wines. The shop is very warm and inviting. It’s a more traditional grocery store layout, which makes it very easy to navigate.
What’s not traditional? Their brick pizza oven! You can order a New York-style thin crust pizza and have it made while you shop. This place is right up my alley — I can stock up on all my pantry essentials and have a fresh, hot dinner without cooking!
This shop is likely to become my new weekly hangout.
From small specialty shops to vast everything-you-could-possibly-want stores, Birmingham has it. I’ve already found some great places, and I’m sure I’ll discover more as I charge forward with my new cook-at-home lifestyle.
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