Billing itself as a "unique grocery store," Trader Joe's shelves are loaded with gourmet products that are as fun to look at as they are to taste. More than 2,000 of its grocery items fall under its namesake private label, which are free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. Each product has its own angle as well, ranging from Kosher to vegetarian to decadent. Buying in bulk allows Trader Joe’s to pass on the savings; you’ll find items you normally run to Whole Foods to get for substantially less. Nutritional bars are a shining example, as is wine.
With store staff perennially decked in tropical print shirts, the cheery and friendly atmosphere gives the feeling of permanent spring break, albeit a soy and vitamin-filled one. Don’t think it’s just a haven for health nuts, though. You’ll find addictive chips, frozen pizza, chocolate-dipped bananas and the signature key lime pie as well.
Centerstage Reviewer: Dennis Mahoney