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Photograph: Jesse Hsu Sesame LA

The best gourmet mini-marts in L.A.

Planning a picnic date or in need of a last-minute gift? These nine tiny specialty markets provide unique snacks, craft beer, natural wines and more.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Written by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
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If you’ve ever found yourself en route to a housewarming or birthday party empty-handed, you’re not alone. Now, more than ever, L.A. is full of thoughtful micro-grocery stores and neighborhood markets (and no, we won’t call them bodegas) stocking the kind of pricey—but well-made—kitchen and home goods, unique snacks and soft drinks, and bottles of booze that make for impressive, seemingly effortless last-minute gifts. At these gourmet mini-marts, shoppers will encounter a regular cast of characters from L.A.’s artisan food scene, as well as knowledgeable staff who are often passionate about what they do. With that in mind, you’ll typically see sticker prices far higher than corporate grocery stores—so plan your budget well, and shop accordingly. 

Whether you’re putting together a picnic, in full-blown pre-party panic mode or just happen to be in the neighborhood, these eight gourmet mini-marts are worth taking the time to drop by, peruse and explore.

These mini-marts are an epicure's delight

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Atwater Village
  • price 3 of 4

Find a little bit of (expensive, organic, small-produced) everything at this small neighborhood grocery and specialty shop in Atwater Village located just steps away from Morihiro, Dune and Proof Bakery. Within its well-designed interiors, you’ll find L.A. food favorites like Bub and Grandma’s bread, frozen Woon dumplings and a curated selection of fairly pricey and obviously, painstakingly artisan-made kitchen and home goods that make great housewarming gifts. Though the bulk of the shop’s real estate is dedicated to esoteric natural wines, Wine and Eggs also carries locally sourced produce, pantry items and (duh) eggs.

  • Shopping
  • Liquor stores
  • Culver City
  • price 2 of 4
Locally made California wine, craft beer and spirits might be the focus at this upscale specialty liquor store with locations in Culver City and Long Beach, plus an upcoming outpost in Costa Mesa, but we’re also partial to Hi-Lo’s carefully curated selection of non-alcoholic drinks, artisan snacks and specialty food items including cold-pressed juice, ethically produced chocolate and even single serving plant-based yogurts. (You’ll also find regular old potato chips and soda.) One-hour local delivery to much of L.A. and Long Beach with no minimums only sweetens the deal of shopping small for your at-home booze needs, but those who stop in—and stay subscribed to Hi-Lo’s weekly newsletter—can also enjoy summer food truck pop-ups, free tasting events and the in-person expertise of the shop’s expert staff.
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  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Fairfax District
  • price 2 of 4

While the Original Farmers Market doesn’t possess the seemingly de rigueur Millennial design cred of other mini-marts on this list, this tiny Grove-adjacent specialty food shop possesses a dazzling array of upscale non-alcoholic drinks in its cold case, plus cookies, chocolates and small kitchen goods you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. In terms of groceries, Monsieur Marcel also carries the requisite selection of high-quality wines, olive oils, pastas and other gourmet imported fare, as well as counters hawking first-rate cheese and wild caught seafood. Plus, the Farmers Market offers 90 minutes of free parking with vendor validation.

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Echo Park
  • price 3 of 4

Now under new ownership by the team behind Jon & Vinny’s, this longtime micro-grocery with locations in Echo Park and Highland Park still offers an array of cookbooks, fresh produce and other locally sourced specialty foods, including Gardena’s Meiji Tofu, Sightglass coffee and Straus Family Creamery dairy products. Cookbook also sells a few prepared deli and frozen items made in-house, plus French cooking knives, imported tinned fish and cured meats, and plenty of other high-quality, painstakingly sourced grocery items.

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  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Chinatown

Located in the heart of Chinatown, this adorable 250-foot superette hopes to preserve and represent Asian American identity through food. Here, you’ll find a constantly changing selection of high-quality seasonal produce, gourmet pantry items—with many Asian American-owned brands—and delicious, nostalgia-inducing baked goods by local bakers. A handful of items we found on a recent visit: Omsom flavor packets, Nguyen Coffee Supply beans and stir-fry sauce from Historic Filipinotown’s Woon Kitchen. In addition to foodstuffs, owner Linda Sivrican also carries artisan home goods and perfumes from her L.A. fragrance brand, Capsule Parfumerie. (Note: Compared to others on this list, the shop keeps fairly limited hours.)

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Culver City
  • price 2 of 4

In 2020, this downtown Culver City art gallery flipped to a specialty market and weekly food pantry and hasn’t looked back since. While you’ll still find artisan jewelry, greeting cards and ceramics at Gratitude Market, the shop now also offers a small but considered array of local fresh foods and high-quality pantry goods, from L.A. bakery favorites like Clark Street to ethically sourced spice blends, olive oils and grains from around the world. Towards the back of the market, a curated bottle selection from queer, BIPOC and female winemakers rounds out the perfect Westside gourmet mini-mart for housewarming gifts and other upscale food needs. In addition to funding the on-site food pantry, a portion of each sale goes to shop owner Lisa Schultz’s non-profit, the Peace Project, which helps combat food insecurity among Culver City families.

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  • Shopping
  • Delis
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 2 of 4

In Yangban Society’s back corner, this tiny bright blue mini-mart showcases artisan products and apparel by Asian American artists, plus a varied selection of imported Asian sweets, snacks and drinks and low-to-highbrow alcohol selection (from $100-plus champagne to $5 beers). Every aspect of the tiny Arts District shop is curated by Yangban’s Korean American chefs, Katianna and John Hong, who intend for Yangban Super to give voice to their identities outside the kitchen. Beyond brightly colored snacks, you’ll also find hoodies, soap, candles, ceremonial incense and even several styles of bojagi—beautifully engraved Korean wrapping cloths meant to envelop gifts or special occasion meals.

  • Shopping
  • Liquor stores
  • East Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4
Next door to equity-focused Vietnamese takeout shop Bé Ù, this Virgil Village neighborhood market offers a carefully considered selection of craft beer and cider, natural wines and even grower champagne—essentially the funkier, single-origin version of the French bubbly everyone knows. Alongside liquor store mainstays like Tylenol, soft drinks, chips and protein bars, Corner Shop also offers a diverse array of produce, pantry and grocery items that straddle the line between affordable and organic, artisan and locally grown. Items they carry that might mean something to you: Bub and Grandma’s Bread, Nancy (Silverton)'s Fancy Gelato and eggs from Rick’s Produce. The shop’s diverse bottle selection, delicious prepared foods and unique snacks make it one of the best last-minute shopping destinations for a spontaneous picnic in nearby Echo Park.
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  • Shopping
  • Liquor stores
  • Venice
Just off a busy stretch of Lincoln Boulevard, this cozy liquor store and neighborhood shop has every kind of booze you need for a well-stocked bar, as well as an array of last-minute around-the-house items, chips, chocolate and other packaged snacks. Behind the counter, you’ll find a wide array of artisan mezcal and tequila, as well as a shelf full of high-quality wines, a cold case of craft beers and a small selection of pantry and fridge essentials: think eggs, dairy and plant-based milks.
  • Shopping
  • Delis
  • Silver Lake
  • price 2 of 4

Bottles of Spanish and Portuguese wines in the $20 to $50 range line this tiny space inside Bar Moruno, but Rápido’s curated collection of Iberian tinned fish sets this fun-size market apart from other nearby wine shops. Billed as a one-stop shop for the perfect last-minute Spanish picnic at the Hollywood Bowl or even the nearby Silver Lake Reservoir, Rápido also offers takeout-friendly sandwiches and a variety of rustic whole grain breads and bagels from wunderkind baker Jyan Isaac (Wed–Sun only). Inside the cold case, Bar Moruno chef Chris Feldmeier’s charcuterie salads, tapas-style salads and dips, and imported European cheese and charcuterie round out a selection built to help Angelenos DIY their own simple but elegant meal centered around Spanish boquerones.

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  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Venice
  • price 3 of 4

Replacing longtime neighborhood market Windward Farms, this gourmet grocer with a floral shop out back is the newest offering from Gjelina Group. This high-end deli and market carries Gjusta pastries and coffee, made fresh daily, as well as a large array of expensive, high-quality groceries (no single-serving bags of Frito-Lay here). You’ll find sustainably farmed shrimp from Transparent Sea, locally raised pork from Pead & Barnetts, and a large selection of tinned fish, charcuterie, cheese and even terrines in the cold section. A small selection of gift-worthy home goods, including AMASS Botanics, is also scattered around the shop.

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