Here's where to shop for specialty ingredients.
When it comes to making a pot of kimchi jigae or Kerala fish curry, the neighborhood grocery chain isn’t going to cut it.
Thankfully, Tucson’s community is home to many cultures that are reflected in diverse ethnic markets all over town. These markets offer customers the chance to try ingredients and cuisines typically unavailable from a traditional supermarket.
The next time you pass by one of these specialty markets, take a moment to step inside and see what you discover.
Mexican markets and carnicerias would dominate this list in volume if they were included, so they’re getting their own article soon.
3954 E. Speedway Blvd.
Located on Speedway just east of Alvernon, Babylon Market offers products from the Middle East, Northern Africa, Eastern Europe, and India. Offerings include dry goods, produce, halal meat, cookware, as well as a takeout counter with freshly made Middle Eastern specialties.
The market’s extensive inventory also includes over 40 varieties of teas, 20 varieties of rice, along with a large selection of spices, canned and pickled vegetables, honeys, dairy products, breads, coffees, and more.
Don’t miss out on the falafel sandwich from the restaurant.
For more information, call (520) 232-3700 or visit babylonmarkettucson.com.
Caravan Mideastern Foods
2817 N. Country Club Rd.
Caravan offers items imported from the Middle East, Africa, Russia, and Eastern Europe.
Regular customers come for their cheeses, nuts, dried fruit, olives, and halal meat. The staff at Caravan also hand-package bulk grains, spices, and dried herbs.
Don’t miss out on the superb Shish Tawook (chicken kebabs) at the sister restaurant next door, Caravan Grill.
For more information, call (520) 323-6808 or visit Caravan Mideastern Foods on Yelp.
European Market & Deli
4500 E. Speedway Blvd.
European Market & Deli is a specialty food and gift market focusing on products from Russia and Eastern Europe. Customers can find smoked and dried fish, European cheeses, caviar, kielbasa, pickled vegetables, jams, and pastries.
The market also has a selection of imported beer, wine, and spirits. Don’t miss out on the eclectic collection of special edition vodka bottles.
Customers can enjoy Russian and Ukrainian comfort food for lunch or dinner in the market or packaged to go.
Despite “The Best Gyros in Town” banner above their front door, come for the Russian favorites such as cabbage rolls, borscht, and pierogi.
For more information, call (520) 512-0206 or visit europeanmarketandeli.com.
G & L Imports
4828 E. 22nd St.
G & L is up there with Grantstone and Lee Lee as one of the three largest Asian markets in Tucson. While it offers goods from several Asian countries, the produce is more geared towards Chinese and Vietnamese cooking.
Additionally, G & L has aisles of Chinese furniture ranging from vases to elaborate carved wall art.
For more information, call (520) 790-9016 or keep up with G & L Imports on Facebook.
8 W. Grant Rd.
While many of Tucson’s ethnic markets are modestly sized, Grantstone Supermarket is about as big as a small Safeway. Rare, unusual produce, tons of cans and packets of everything you could never imagine, cookware, seafood, Asian treats, hot sauces, and much much more line the numerous aisles.
The unusual produce such as dragonfruit and banana blossoms are the main reason to come. If buying packaged items, make sure to check the expiration date.
Bonus for the sake selection in the very front.
Keep up with Grantstone Supermarket on Facebook.
2754 N. Campbell Ave.
India Dukaan (meaning “shop” in Hindi) has occupied a small storefront on Campbell for over a decade and has recently expanded into the retail space next door. The store offers staples of Indian food, including grains, spices, and dairy products such as paneer.
Fresh produce is available Wednesdays through Saturdays. Spice mixtures, called masalas, are available for a variety of Indian dishes.
Don’t be afraid to chat with the owners. They love to share cooking tips and recipes with home cooks looking to expand their Indian food repertoire.
For more information, call (520) 321-0408 or keep up with India Dukaan on Facebook.
India Food & Gifts
863 E. Grant Rd.
India Food & Gifts is nestled into a corner of the strip mall on Grant between North First Avenue and North Park Avenue, which is also home to Indian restaurant favorite Sher-E-Punjab.
With Indian spices, fresh curry leaves, frozen food, and Indian video rentals, you better believe this is a joint worth checking out.
For more information, call (520) 624-2474 or visit India Food & Gifts on Yelp.
5595 E. Fifth St.
Kimpo market sits at the end of a quiet strip mall on the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Craycroft.
Kimpo has been providing Tucson with imported products from Asia for 25 years. Customers can find ingredients for Korean food staples, along with imported snacks, dry and instant noodles, and a wide selection of condiments.
The market’s owners make and sell their own kimchis and Korean rice cakes. Come on Fridays for kimbap.
Cooking and serving bowls for bibimbap and Korean soups are also available for purchase.
For more information, call (520) 750-9009 or visit Kimpo Oriental Market on Yelp.
Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket
1990 W. Orange Grove Rd.
Lee Lee International Supermarket offers thousands of square feet of shopping options with fresh produce, a butcher, live seafood, cookware, beer, wine, and imported goods from countries all over the world.
While the focus at Lee Lee’s tends to lean towards Asian goods, they also carry items from the Middle East, South America, the Caribbean, the Philippines, Africa, and Mexico.
Nan Tian BBQ is located inside Lee Lee’s to the left of the entrance and offers Peking duck, roasted pork, and other Chinese BBQ plates to go. Be aware, the restaurant is cash only.
For more information, call (520) 638-8328 or visit leeleesupermarket.com.
Moan’s Oriental Market
2022 S. Craycroft Rd.
Moan’s specializes in Southeast Asian produce and goods. Visit later in the week for the freshest lemongrass stalks and herbs.
For more information, call (520) 747-7892 or visit Moan’s Oriental Market on Yelp.
Nick’s Sari-Sari Store and Filipino Restaurant
2001 S. Craycroft Rd.
Nick’s offers a wide variety of Filipino specialty items such as soy sauce with calamansi (a Filipino citrus), banana ketchup, 25-pound bags of rice, and assorted produce.
The attached restaurant is a new addition. Don’t miss out on refreshing halo-halo or crunchy lechon.
Nick’s also offers balikbayan box services.
For more information, call (520) 406-3593 or keep up with Nick’s Sari-Sari Store and Filipino Restaurant on Facebook.
Nur Market & Restaurant
3565 E. Speedway Blvd.
You’d miss this market if you weren’t looking for it. This Somalian/East African/South Asian market prides itself on a wide range of spices, lentils, and African tea.
While you’ll find everything you need here to cook Somali like a champ, Nur Market features a little restaurant with all kinds of goodies, such as Goat Curry, Beef and Chicken Shawerma, and Chicken Kabobs.
Don’t miss out on the $1.50 Sambusas, spiced beef and vegetable-filled deep-fried pastries served with a side of spicy tomato sauce.
For more information, call (520) 881-6333 or visit nurmarketaz.com.
627 S. Vine Ave.
Roma Imports is an Italian food lover’s dream.
In addition to imported European goods, Roma boasts an extensive menu of hot and cold Italian sandwiches along with a slew of refrigerated and frozen food to go, much of it made in-house. This includes soups, sauces, desserts, sausages, and take-and-bake family meals.
Some of Roma’s popular cured meats offered in their deli are mortadella, bresaola, soppressata, prosciutto, and jamón Serrano. The antipasti selection on display is always impressive withhand-stuffed olives, fresh mozzarella and more.
For more information, call (520) 792-3173 or visit romaimports.com.
Sandyi Oriental Market
4270 E. Pima St.
While Sandyi covers the bases with various Japanese and Chinese goods, it’s most useful as a one-stop shop for Korean goods.
Come here if you plan on making a Korean stew or noodle dish. The staff is happy to answer any questions.
For more information, call (520) 320-0389 or visit sandyioriental.wixsite.com.
Sun Oriental Market
2205 S. Craycroft Rd.
Sun is another small Korean market that also offers various Japanese and Chinese goods. In addition, they have a few frozen obscure goods from Hawaii, such as pork lau lau and Portugese sausage.
Furthermore, the owners are extremely nice.
For more information, call (520) 320-0389 or visit sandyioriental.wixsite.com.
[This article was originally written on February 10, 2015 and most recently updated on July 25, 2019]