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Taste the World at These South Carolina Markets

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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Curries, pierogies, pupusas, pho—no? Yes! South Carolinians are a diverse group, a state of affairs deliciously reflected in the number of international markets operating across the state. These specialty grocers cater to cooks seeking cultural food experiences, whether it’s to get a taste of their native land or simply enjoy a gastronomic adventure.

Finding the ingredients that make a global dish authentic is an easier task today than it was a decade or more ago. From humble tiendas offering fresh tortillas and colorful pastries to Asian grocery stores stocked to supply the masses with noodles, herbs and fresh fish, a trip to your local international market is a fascinating, and often educational, look at what the world is eating.

Make sure you carve out plenty of time to browse the aisles, which are usually filled with a host of interesting goods and food products. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to try something new, especially if you’re lucky enough to hit a market that doubles as a cafe.

Ready to taste the world? Here are 10 popular markets where you can begin your culinary adventure.

1. African-Jamaican-Caribbean Market, Greenville 

The name says it all. Among its many offerings are fresh oxtail, snapper, kola nut, shea butter, oils, spice bun, herbal remedies, tonics and an eye-popping array of Caribbean products.

2. Asia Pacific Super Market, Greenville 

Touted as the biggest Asian market in the Upstate, you’re bound to find everything here to create specialty meals in your kitchen. If you get hungry while you shop, pop into their eatery where you’ll find a mind-blowing number of authentic dishes like leeks with shrimp, kung pao chicken, hot and spicy dry pot and more.

3. European Market, Greenville and multiple locations 

Once strictly a Russian market, this operation has expanded its borders to include foods and products from Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Poland, Greece and other nations. The bakery is a favorite shopper stop with fresh-baked German bread. Other house-made goodies include cabbage rolls, bulochki, pierogies and blintzes. Check the website for other locations.

guadalajara market in north charleston
Cheeses and other dairy products used in Latino cooking can be found at Guadalajara Market in North Charleston.

4. Guadalajara Supermarket, North Charleston 

Cheeses, tortillas, produce, spices, fresh meats, pastries and religious candles can be found at this popular market stocking Mexican, Guatemalan and other Latino foods.

5. Habibi’s Cafe & Lebanese Market, Myrtle Beach

This favorite stop along the route to Myrtle Beach (near Waccamaw) has a bustling market brimming with a variety of olive oils, spices, breads and vats of olives you can taste-test before purchasing.

6. H & L Asian Market, North Charleston

You’ll find a rich sampling of Asian delicacies like salmon jerky, Chinese broccoli, yakisoba noodles, yuzu juice, gochujang sauce, lumpia and tons more. Don’t leave without trying a bowl of pho in their cafe.

7. Indian Grocery, Columbia 

This busy grocery store is easy to navigate and stocked with frozen foods, fresh produce, canned goods, packaged snacks, herbs, spices, dairy products and exotic varieties of incense.

8. Jerusalem Deli & Market, North Charleston

Find just about everything Middle Eastern at this market, including olives, oils, baked goods, spices and an interesting collection of hookahs and supplies.

9. Lee’s Farmers Market, Murrells Inlet

Don’t let the rustic façade fool you—this isn’t your typical farmers market. Local fresh produce aside, you’ll find this store is something more along the lines of an Italian grocery and butcher shop. There’s wine, a wide array of canned and packaged Italian ingredients, pasta in every shape, wedges of cheese cut to order, a meat case filled with house-made sausage, chops and roasts, and other foodstuffs straight from the owner’s home state of New Jersey.

10. Tienda Mexicana 3 Caminos, Aiken 

This unassuming little market is filled with Mexican breads, candies, sodas, salsas, tortillas, beans, rice, spices and everything you need to make an authentic meal. For a little inspiration, go local and head to the back for some of the best tacos around.

 

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.