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updated: May 11, 2014, 1:06 PM

What are fellow Edhatters' opinions on the best, largest, most well-stocked supermarkets in the SB/Goleta area? I am trying to decide on on the one or ones that are the biggest, cleanest, and offer the most choices in food and products for the best one-stop shopping experience!

 COMMENT 518025 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 01:22 PM

I always liked Vons when it was downtown...then after it closed I started to go up to upper Stater. They are always so nice and have a good selection, best french bread when its fresh out of the oven too!


 COMMENT 518026P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 01:24 PM

Trader Joes - great prices and products but crowded parking and frequent fender-benders. DLV and Milpas locations the worst.


 COMMENT 518027 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 01:24 PM

We go to all the grocery stores nearest to our home. There are only certain things that we buy at each.


 COMMENT 518028 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 01:29 PM

Ralph's in Magnolia, Costco, Albertsons by Costco and Vons in La Cumbre plaza... Traders Joes is good for fill in stuff, or if you're single, they have some wonderful yummies like gnocchi mmmm. Now I think I need to go there today lol


 COMMENT 518029 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 01:35 PM

I used to watch the weekly special from each store. Made a list of what I could use or stock up on from each. Having a Ralph's, Vons and Albertsons near by helped, and I could also hop into Nikka's for my Asian food supplies. One might say I price shopped. Oh, some may say it took more gas, but all were pretty close by.

And stocking up on nonperishables cut down on frequent shopping.


 COMMENT 518032 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 02:07 PM

fairview vons is pretty good, lazy acres has an awesome selection but can be pricey. love their deli food and salad bar. costco for everything else.


 COMMENT 518040 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 02:37 PM

Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Lazy Acres, for quality. Biggest is usually not best, and the big(gest) supermarkets tend to sell more product laced with GMOs, pesticides, artificial colors and preservatives and other chemicals that the human body is not designed to cope with.


 COMMENT 518041P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 02:42 PM

Fairview Vons is great for a lot of things. Huge store and they have that "health store" section, where you can get some good foods.

For health food/organic food the Farmer's Marts on Tues & Sat are nice, but you have to know who to shop from and who is only claiming to have their organic license in the offing. Too much "we don't spray" going on there.

Whole Foods has the freshest produce, by far. The service is almost laughably personable and warm-hearted. I love it there. (Never thought I'd say that. Nowhere else can you buy organic blueberries-----by the pound!)

Lazy Acres is good, but so out of the way for most of us. If you can find things on sale, and if you get there in time for the random "free cheese samples," L.A. is good for a lot of healthy food stuffs.

Over all, I find, that in order to fulfill my personal shopping list, I need to visit Trader Joe's, Ralphs (Carrillo St.), Vons (La Cumbre or Fairview) and Whole Foods----in one trip. It's nice that Vons, Gelson's and other supermarkets are selling organic products, more and more. Sometimes their prices are better than at the health food stores.

A lot of time and $$$ is spent in shopping, but I think my health is worth it. Anyone who isn't buying organic and using organic health care/beauty products needs to read more and learn to take better care of themselves/their family.


 COMMENT 518043P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 02:54 PM

We go to all the stores in Goleta since we can't get everything we need/want at just one store. One of the realities of living here -- when we lived in L.A. we never had a problem finding everything at one store.


 COMMENT 518044 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 03:00 PM

If it isn't GMO, I'm not getting the bang for the buck that I require.


 COMMENT 518048 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 03:11 PM

There is no one store fits all around here, in my opinion. I have to go to different stores like everyone else-- ie. TJ's for some items (milk, butter, etc), but Albertson's for other stuff. Neither has great vegetables or fruit, so I trek down to Tri-County Produce or maybe Whole Foods once in awhile for that. Oy!


 COMMENT 518050 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 03:18 PM

Since the OP specifically stated "largest" and "offer the most choices," Trader Joe's is out of the race. It's a great store, to be sure, but it really isn't a supermarket, nor does it claim to be.

Supermarket-wise, there really aren't that many local choices. There's the triumverate of Ralphs, Vons and Albertson's--all of which are pretty much indistinguishable from one another--and then there are the high-priced Gelson's, Lazy Acres, and that new Fresh market on Milpas.

Which is the "best" supermarket is subjective, as everyone's wants and needs are different. I prefer Ralphs because it has a better selection, but I buy meat at Albertson's on the Mesa, and Coke Zero when it's on sale at Vons. I can't see any local market being named as "the best," because they're all good and none really stands out.


 COMMENT 518051 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 03:20 PM

Costco is the only game in this town.


 COMMENT 518052 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 03:42 PM

Was in recently in Paris and what we noticed was no real overweight people except some American tourist. They don't have big supermarkets with all that processed and high fructose filled junk like you find in the US. They do enjoy bread, cheese, wine, and fancy desserts and somehow manage to stay skinny.


 COMMENT 518053 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 03:56 PM

Ralph's on de la vina has the freshest seafood in town. The fruits and vegetables are always in season too.


 COMMENT 518055 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 03:58 PM

Whole Foods is the worst place...dollar per product in town. I absolutely hate their policy of discriminating against people based on their BMI. I will not spend money there ever. I prefer farmers market, trader joes, costco, and ralphs magnolia. Boo whole foods


 COMMENT 518058 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 04:06 PM

GRITZ...How does a store discriminate by BMI? Honest question, not being snarky.


 COMMENT 518060 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 04:16 PM

Whole Foods came in uppity and condescending and have not improved. Hate to shop where the retailer is doing me a favor. The cheese department gave me a lecture on Blue Roquefort, which I have purchased both here and in France decades before this whipper snapper's mother forgot to take her pill.


 COMMENT 518062P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 04:27 PM

it's an employee policy that Gritz is referring to, from 2010. Don't know the status of the program now.

Between a less expensive grocery store and TJ's I'm covered; special trips to specific stores for special foods or splurges. I too shop the sales flyers. Great to have options. I still haven't been to Whole Foods! I'm assuming it's one of the few stores to get whole kernel kasha (buckwheat). I know I'll be shopping with my eyes for hours.

I googled "whole foods discrimination weight" (I'm skinny and not healthy at all)

"Not only does the program — which would increase employees' discount from 20 to 30% if they did not smoke and met certain BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol targets — have potential privacy problems, it may also be discriminatory. http://jezebel.com/5458605/whole-foods-employee-bmi-discount-raises-legal-concerns

"The “Team Member Healthy Discount Incentive” is a voluntary program that evaluates the health of employees based on Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol, and nicotine-use. Based on these specific criteria, employees can qualify for an additional 2-10% discount on top of the 20% discount all employees already receive. But instead of acting as an incentive, the program may have the exact opposite effect and act more like a punishment for larger-bodied employees ..." http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/02/the-skinny-on-whole-foods-anti-fat-policy/


 COMMENT 518065P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 05:07 PM

Live in Santa Barbara but play in Goleta, so I go to Trader Joe's there, then hit the other stores, as needed, on the way home.


 COMMENT 518066 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 05:09 PM

I personally believe that no one store in this area is a good one-stop solution.

I get Asian and some Middle Eastern foods from the Indo-Chine store next to K-Mart.

I get quality meats from Costco when I can afford it, but generally I get whatever is on sale from high-turn-over stores.

I sometimes drive to Oxnard to shop at Vallarta Market (fanTASTic sales, just great savings! pays for the gas and all!)

Dairy, eggs & many cheeses from Trader Joe's.

Farmers Markets and Target round it out.


 COMMENT 518069 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 05:51 PM

Going way back to the Grocery store strike, when the big 3 (Von's, Albertson's, Ralph's) were being picketed for months on end, I started going to T.J's and Gelson's and just never went back. I also loooove Tri-County Produce when I'm down that way. Big fan of Costco and Farmer's Markets too. Agree about Whole Paycheck…Do yourself a favor and give the following a read regarding Whole Foods…one word, HILARIOUS. Caution there are some swear words, okay, there's a lot!



 COMMENT 518070P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 06:08 PM

Costco has more corn syrup, mono and diglycerides, BHA, BHT (preservatives) and other nasty chemically tainted food than any other market in town. Every bit of corn or soy or canola-laden product you can find there is all GMO. (Genetically Modified Organisms.) This means you are condoning/promoting the use of pesticides and the outrageous, villainous slaughter of bees and butterflies. Why do people buy (and rave about) Costco pies, breads, fruit plates, shrimp plates, etc, when all that stuff is just LOADED with chemicals to keep it "fresh?" Ugh. No thanks.


 COMMENT 518072P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 06:32 PM

I like Ralph's in Magnolia. It's big, clean, has a wide selection of stuff and the staff is friendly. The organic produce can be a little rugged, but that's true of every store that I've been in. I do multi-store and farmer's market shopping, but if I had to pick one, it would be this Ralph's.


 BULLSEYEB agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 06:40 PM

Thank you, Gritz, for bringing up the discriminatory policy at Whole Foods. It was well covered in the news a while back, but people forget. I have never, nor will I ever shop there, just as I will never patronize Chick-Fil-A. If an owner is vocal enough to make his/her bigotry on the forefront of their business, then I will chose to spend my money elsewhere. Thanks 062P for the links.

I started shopping at Ralph's during the strike when the big 3 made the agreement to not have picket lines there. I wouldn't cross the picket lines. I still shop at Ralph's in Magnolia. My husband will fill in with things from Vons on Turnpike when we need to.


 COMMENT 518076 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 08:13 PM

Santa Cruz market for meat


 COMMENT 518081 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 08:44 PM

Based on the question, Gelson's is the clear answer. One stop, large, clean and well stocked.
(way overpriced too)


 COMMENT 518083 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 08:46 PM

In France they are taught at a young age then when the food stops tasting delicious that your body is done eating... we are taught here not to waste food and we overload our plates with processed foods and then make ourselves eat it all.


 COMMENT 518090P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-11 10:08 PM

I like Gelsons; don't shop there all the time, but overall it has a good selection.


 COMMENT 518101 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 06:42 AM

The biggest "supermarket" in the area is clearly the Ralph's on Carillo & Chapala.

Costco isn't a supermarket.

Best is subjective.


 COMMENT 518104 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 06:52 AM

Another comment about GMOs and Costco; it's not just Costco. 99% of corn and soy are GMO, unless they are labelled organic. That's in ALL commercial products not just Costco products. This includes your flour, 7-grain cereal, etc. So buy organic and quit eating pesticide-laden food!


 COMMENT 518106P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 06:58 AM

I try to shop local, meaning whatever I can get to easiest, minimizing my driving. That means I mainly shop at Lazy Acres, Mesa Produce, one of the TJ's, and the new Forager's Pantry (at SB Public Market). If I am near Whole Foods, I'll shop there. We never go to Costco because we are never in that area. If we are driving through SLO or Solvang, we'll stop at New Frontiers for a change of pace. If I can hit a farmers' market, I'll do so, but usually they conflict with other commitments. I generally don't like the big supermarket chains, because we generally eat fresh food, not canned, bottled or boxed items.


 COMMENT 518127P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 08:12 AM

In my opinion, the best stocked store and overall best quality is Gelson's. It is more expensive than Ralphs, but much more selection and better produce by far. It is not more expensive than Whole Foods or Lazy Acres. If I'm in the area, Santa Cruz is my favorite for that home-town feel, but I don't live close by.
Speaking of Whole Foods - every other Whole Foods I've ever been in is better than the one here in SB. This one is small, really expensive, not well-stocked, and seriously snotty.


 COMMENT 518130 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 08:22 AM

OP Here . . . thanks for the suggestions!! 075 I asked b/c I've been frustrated with finding certain laundry and dishwashing products (Method and other brands) without having to buy them at Gelsons or WF at 2x the price, and the bigger the better as far a selection. I've also grown tired of having to visit multiple places to get what I need with few exceptions re: organic stuff, etc. I tried Ralphs on Magnolia, and it wins hands down of all places I've gone so far! And PS, just so people know, you can get organic and non GMO foods there - you just have to look and read labels but will still have to go to places like Whole Foods for some stuff. You can't put a price on health, and you can't put a price on paying bills and saving for retirement and unfortunately, my wallet isn't big enough to accommodate everything so if I can find it at a place that doesn't charge more that's great. I really appreciate all the responses! Good health to everyone.


 COMMENT 518132 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 08:34 AM

Vons Fairview, Ralphs Carrillo, Albertson's in Magnolia are all good supermarket type stores and similar in size and variety of offerings. Gelsons in Loreto Plaza is a nice store but a bit on the espensive side.


 COMMENT 518136 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 08:38 AM

Trader Joe's, Mesa Produce, Lane Farms, and an occasional Lazy Acres and Smart and Final. These stores comprise my weekly loop of shopping. (Live on the Mesa-work in Goleta)


 COMMENT 518141 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 08:54 AM

Forty years ago when I came to SB my first job was doing surveys in front of grocery stores asking patrons where they shopped. It was an eye-opener to me that most people traveled to several stores for different items, and that all groceries have a series of items called "loss leaders" that they ware willing to sell at a LOSS just to get you shopping there. So someone who buys a lot of milk, for instance, goes to the store where it is sold below cost, and then ends up picking up a lot of other incidentals that are sold at higher prices....OR you are very savvy and know which products to buy where. The best policy is to buy as close to the source as you can, and as pure as you can.


 COMMENT 518155 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 09:52 AM

Fresh Market, Fresh & Easy, Trader Joe's, Tri County Produce. Live downtown, shop on the Eastside. I thought it was weird when I first moved here that you had to go to multiple stores for different items. Now I am used to it. Agree TJ's is NOT supermarket, and produce is far better at Tri County. But I buy milk, eggs, and other staples and F&E, but Fresh Market runs really terrific specials, like $2.99 Tuesdays. Organic eggs, free-range chicken, and more for $2.99. $6.99 Saturdays at Fresh Market have produced fresh lump crab cakes and lobster tails - for $6.99! TJ's never runs specials, and F&E is dropping their prices on similar items to lure you away from TJ's. It's working....at least on me!


 ELSPETH agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 09:53 AM

To 518132: I shop Ralphs in Magnolia. I don't think there's an Albertson's there too!


 COMMENT 518163P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 10:06 AM

Meat is select grade at Ralphs. No fat and very tough. Costco has always had the best meat for the price of any store I have shopped in. I shop at Costco almost every day. Meat is great at Santa Cruz markets and they have the best prices for their vegetables, I do believe their vegetables are grown in Mexico so please wash them first before eating.


 COMMENT 518165 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 10:11 AM

I really wish they had a Valley Produce Market. The closest one is in Simi Valley. They have great variety of international foods with everything you can find if you're from the middle east. Everyhing is so much cheaper than any other market I've shopped at. The fresh produce variety is unbeatable and CHEAP. The meat deli is also great and prices much lower than anywhere else. Whenever I'me in the valley I make it a point to shop there and grab a hot pita at the small restaturant inside.


 COMMENT 518170 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 10:29 AM

If i had to choose which of the 3 big supermarkets I prefer it would be Ralphs. I find the quality/price of produce to generally be the best. Milk, bread, eggs, etc.. also seem to be cheaper than the others. If i want a real good deal on chicken breast or gound beef I hit up the meat dept. just bfore they're closing and can ususally bargain 1/2 off the price per pound.


 COMMENT 518184 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 11:24 AM

Gelson's or Ralph's at Carrillo/Chapala.


 COMMENT 518197 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 12:11 PM

All this talk of GMO's and most people don't even know which things you're eating are even GMO, NOT MUCH peoples, soy is the only allowable edible gmo, so find out what products you eat that have soy in them and IF the GMO soy being used is used for foods! Are they feeding cows and other animals GMO soy products? Is it even legal to feed our foods GMO products or just plates/cups/packaging, etc.? It's banned in many countries, so why not here. Be informed instead of lumping all this labeling into a problematic situation. Fight the right fight and know exactly what Organic and Natural actually means in the labeling world. Everything isn't gmo, please be informed & don't fall for political ploys.


 COMMENT 518213 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 12:43 PM

If I have time I will head up to Lazy Acres. If not Ralphs at Magnolia or downtown. The three best. Occasionally Trader Joes.


 COMMENT 518219 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 01:33 PM

I haven't been able to find one store that has everything I need but Gelson's comes very close. Their store is clean and well merchandised. It is not huge but it is big enough for what I need. The people who work there are very helpful. There is not a huge difference in price for general grocery items like yogurt or milk and I like the mix of mass market and specialty items. GMO and organic this or that don't do much for me but they have all of that stuff too.


 COMMENT 518223 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 02:15 PM

066 Vallarta in Oxnard must be very different than the one in Santa Maria. I cannot shop there because it literally stinks. The smell when you walk in is of rotten food. Disgusting!!


 COMMENT 518232 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 03:07 PM

If you can afford it, Gelson's. Clean, uncrowded, helpful employees and no-wait at the checkstands. They have the best produce of any supermarket around, and an incredible deli. They don't have the biggest selection, but what they have is excellent quality, and they seem to always have exactly what I'm looking for. If you look for items on sale, you can often find prices that are competitive with Ralphs, Vons, etc.


 COMMENT 518248P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 03:46 PM

If you live on the Bestside, don't forget Foodland! I normally stop by once or twice a week for things I've forgotten to buy elsewhere...


 COMMENT 518277 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 04:50 PM

as many also pointed out gelsons and lazy acres have helpful employees, you can actually talk about your food recipe, what's fresh and local or what wine to pair with your dinner at these establishments.


 COMMENT 518318 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-12 07:45 PM

Albertson's in Carp. El Rancho in SY.


 PAGLINSB agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-13 07:46 AM

Ralph's in Magnolia Shopping Center --I like Von's but Ralph's seems to have more & better of everything. The staff members at both places are wonderfully helpful--great people.


 COMMENT 518369 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-13 07:48 AM

First stop now Fresh Market - then TJ - rarely get to Von's Montecito anymore - even less frequently Ralph's Downtown. Smart & Final for paper products/coffee


 COMMENT 519166 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-15 12:30 PM

062 thank you for your answer re: BMI


 COMMENT 519924 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-18 10:29 AM

The thread demonstrates pretty clearly that there is no single store that satisfies all needs. Our household has developed a rotation. Farmer's Markets for fresh in season local stuff. TJs for the products we can't seem to find anywhere else (organic ketchup for instance), loss leader coupon promos, and Costco for the items that fit our criteria. Right now at Costco, for instance, is a kale salad that is all sourced in north county. Great value, great quality. So we don't go one place. We go to four or five once a month, and buy knowing it's once a month. Something always comes up, and the rotation adjusts. Like most things in SB, you have to think a bit to get the best value, but when you do, the quality of life for the price is very high.



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