If getting more adventurous in the kitchen, you should expand your horizons beyond the neighborhood grocery store. Sacramento is home to a number of ethnic markets that are great resources for scouting hard-to-find and specialized ingredients. Whether you’re on the hunt for Asian, Indian or even specialty Mexican ingredients, check out these Sacramento ethnic grocery stores.
4990 Freeport Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95822
Hours: Mon to Sat – 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sun – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Oto’s Marketplace, also known as Oto’s Japan Foods, and is a family-owned specialty market. The items offered here focus on Japanese and other Asian foods with unique fish, quality meats and farm-fresh produce options. Oto’s has been in business for over 35 years, and will make you feel like you are back in Japan with its homemade bento lunch boxes and sushi made by Ray Yamamoto, Oto’s own sushi chef. Oto’s strives to support local organic farmers and features local products when possible. Local products typically reach no farther than Woodland to the north, Fresno Central Valley to the south, Monterey Peninsula to the west and Penryn to the east. Look for specialty Asian produce as well, including Japanese eggplants, gobo and imported Japanese fruits. Be sure to check out the meat department, including kobe-style beef and kurobuta pork, and the sake department, featuring the largest selection of Japanese sakes in Sacramento.
Related: Best Asian Restaurants in Sacramento
Kaveri Indian Grocery
1148 Fulton Ave, Suite D
Sacramento, CA 95825
Hours: Daily – 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The rich blend of spices and unique ingredients in Indian dishes can make cooking the cuisine at home overwhelming, but look no further than Kaveri Indian Grocery. Most can agree that Kaveri’s selection of Indian spices is unsurpassed in Sacramento. Look for other products like grains, flours, frozen and ready-to-eat dishes from all major regions of India.
6930 65th St, Suite 123
Sacramento, CA 95823
Hours: Daily – 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
SF Supermarket has two locations in Sacramento and is part of a rapidly growing nationwide chain of Asian grocery stores in business for over 20 years. Currently, however, only a handful of locations are scattered throughout California. SF Supermarket specializes in Asian ingredients from countries like China, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. SF is a great resource for Southeast Asian recipes and carries a number of hard-to-find Thai and Vietnamese ingredients that can make or break a recipe.
Related: Ethnic Food Shopping for Holidays
1547 Fulton Ave
Sacramento, CA 95825
Hours: Mon to Sat – 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sun – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Mediterranean cuisine has risen in popularity over the years due to its perceived health benefits. Cuisines from regions like Greece, Turkey and Arabic nations typically have clean flavors, all-natural ingredients and can be quite simple to make at home — provided you can get the ingredients. Fortunately, Mediterranean Market has been supplying Sacramento locals with Mediterranean-niche products since 1991. With over 100 spices available and an entire aisle dedicated to key products like tahini and halva, Mediterranean Market is likely to carry whatever ingredients you are in need of. How about a selection of imported feta cheeses and olive oils from different Mediterranean regions or freshly-delivered baklava? Ready-to-eat plates are available daily, but often sell out by early afternoon so get there early. Look for a selection of halal meats as well, since many shoppers are from Mediterranean regions that are primarily Muslim.
La Esperanza Mexican Food Products
5028 Franklin Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95820
Hours: Daily – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
While this is a Mexican-style market with a small restaurant/prepared foods area, you might find it hard to bypass the ready-made Mexican specialties to find whatever ingredients you originally intended on buying. Indulge in some of La Esperanza’s homemade specialties like tamales, chicharrones and carnitas. There is even an onsite tortilla factory in the back so you can ensure you’re getting fresh, homemade tortillas that beat out mass-produced, regular grocery store options. If you are somehow strong enough to bypass the fresh tamales and are set on making your own, La Esperanza even sells the fresh masa used in its tamales. For the ultimate in Mexican specialties, be sure to stop by La Esperanza’s Bakery a couple doors down to pick up dessert on your way home.
Erin De Santiago is a freelance travel and food/wine writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. She is a regional membership coordinator for the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and writes for a number of publications in addition to publishing her own blogs. She has traveled to over 40 countries on five continents in search of the best food and wine around the globe. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.