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Downtown's Gourmet Secrets: Garo's Deli, Tiara Cafe and Bottega Louie

By Dawna Nolan
Published: Friday, August 06, 2010, at 05:29PM
Garo's Deli Ed Fuentes

Olive oil bottles sit in front of deli items at Garo’s Deli in St. Vincent’s Court.

Long-time Downtown residents remember when groceries were a day trip. Then Ralphs opened, Downtown became more of a “real” neighborhood and buying groceries became less of a production. But some Downtowners have never made the big grocery switch, citing expensive prices, a preference for shopping at smaller, neighborhood spots, or just a love for specialty items that they can’t find at a large chain.

So, besides Ralphs and Grand Central Market, where can you shop for food Downtown? As it turns out, if you know where to look—lots of places. This article is the first of a series in which we’ll show you some Downtown spots that should be added into your hunt for culinary gems.

If you like to cook, it can be a challenge to find items downtown that might be considered “gourmet,” things like good olive oils, vinegars, Italian tomatoes, even spices and greek yogurt. But tucked in a tiny, hidden-away spot, you can find all of those things and more.

Garo’s Deli in St. Vincent Court is a tiny shop (and full deli) that carries everything from Greek yogurt, tahini, and imported feta cheeses, to a wide selection of nuts, spices, olives, dry beans, teas and a dizzying array of spreads, pickles, dips and condiments, all at very reasonable prices. If you’re feeling festive, you can even purchase rose petal jam and Turkish Delight, perhaps to accompany the shop’s Middle Eastern pastries and coffee beans, available in several blends and roasts, including Turkish and Arabic, for only $7 a pound.

And if you prefer for someone else to make your Turkish coffee (or tea) the staff at Garo’s will bring it to your sidewalk table steaming on a handled tray, just as if you were in Istanbul or Cairo. Think of it as a really inexpensive mini-vacation.

Also worth a mention for gourmet ingredients is Tiara Café. They’ve long been a lunch staple for Fashion District denizens, but they also have a small market, where you can find Italian/Mediterranean staples like canned San Marzano tomatoes, imported Italian canned tuna, Arborio rice for risotto, anchovies packed in salt and good olive oils and balsamic vinegar. You can pick up prepared fresh ingredients from their refrigerator case too: cheeses, marinated vegetables, salad makings and the like—they encourage “foraging” among their wares to create your own culinary masterpiece.

Bottega Louie offers a well-edited selection of gourmet delicacies as well. It’s here that one finds an array of sea salts from around the world, crispbreads and crackers, preserves, confectionery items like caramels, candied walnuts and toffee almonds. Also available are a good selection of olive and other oils (truffle anyone?) and vinegars. Plus, like Tiara Café, Bottega Louie carries wine so when a celebration is in order, Veuve Cliquot is right at hand.

Next time we’ll talk about where to buy wine.


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