When it comes to grocery shopping in Berkeley, there are the typical grocery store chains like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. There is also Berkeley Bowl, which has the most eclectic food variety, making it easier to venture outside of the standard fruits, vegetables, and bread aisles. Berkeley Bowl makes is the easiest to find ethnic foods that are found in all different parts of the world.

Trader Joe's

sweet, juice, apple
Jocelyn Hsu

Trader Joe’s is the best grocery store for frozen food. It has a variety of Indian food. There's Indian Fare Jaipur Vegetables, which are a mix of potatoes, carrots, peas, and green beans in a flavorful curry sauce. Vegan option include Palak Paneer, which consists of spinach, a frozen Vegetable Panang Curry, and even falafels that are surprisingly soft and fluffy. 

Other ethnic foods include Mediterranean dolmas, which are grape leaves stuffed with vegetables and go well with hummus or baba ganoush. There are also Asian foods. Scallion Pancakes and frozen Bibimbap Bowl are both great additions to an Asian style meal.

Whole Foods

vegetable, hummus, bread
Christin Urso

Whole Foods doesn’t have nearly as many frozen foods. It is a grocery store centered around fresh and organic produce. However, there are some classic Asian flavors such as umami, kimchi, and seaweed that are found in products such as Saffron Road Korean Tacos and Organic Thai Curry Cashews. While the food from Whole Foods is not the most authentic, it is on the healthier side. 

Berkeley Bowl

pastry, candy, cake, bread, sweet, chocolate
Jessica Yeh

For the best worldview perspective, Berkeley Bowl is the place to go in terms of really getting out of your element and exploring different flavors. It's a grocery store unique to Berkeley specifically. It has broader options than Trader Joe's because it has a diverse selection of food that entails both frozen and non-frozen food. It's better than Whole Foods because there is a broader selection of foods that are actually imported from different parts of the world. 

In the bread section, there are German Pretzels. Those are famous because people go crazy about the contrast between the chewiness of the outside skin and the softness of the inner pretzel. 

cereal, wheat, bun, chocolate, doughnut, sweet, bread, bagel, pastry
Jessica Yeh

There is also an entire aisle dedicated to the wide range of salsas and dips. These can be eaten with chips or even with the German pretzel you just picked up from the bread section.

milk, tea, dairy product
Jessica Yeh

Near the sushi section, there is a Mediterranean area featuring baklava and other flaky pastries.

pastry, aspic, herb, bread, cake, meat, cream, vegetable
Jessica Yeh

In the Asian aisle, there is a selection of raw seafood that can be used to make a DIY poke bowl or sushi.

fish, vegetable
Jessica Yeh

Among the fresh produce, there is an area of exotic fruits from South America, Asia, and Australia. These include horned melons kiwano, quince, passion fruit, tamarind, coconut, and sugarcane.

vegetable, sweet
Jessica Yeh

The spices aisle has a diverse selection of seasonings, teas, flours, and even matcha.

cream, matcha, green tea, tea
Jessica Yeh

What makes Berkeley Bowl special is that it has fresh products from a variety of areas like Germany, Japan, Thailand, New Zealand, and Chile to name a few. While the average person may not have enough money to taste the myriad of snacks at Coachella or take a European cruise, a trip to Berkeley Bowl can change your weekly soda treat into a weekly homemade Matcha Boba drink.

Exploring a different aisle of grocery stores like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or Berkeley Bowl can expand your taste palette without shrinking your wallet (at least not as much as actually traveling to Germany for a German pretzel).