Food is a hot topic and food lovers are embracing new and unique ingredients.  The problem is, where can an average person find some of these specialty ingredients?  Whether you are planning a dinner party or a simple night at home, this list will help you find the right ingredients to make your meal special.



303 East Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Surdyk’s has everything for your next dinner party from aged balsamic to prepared salads.  Grab a bottle of Winehaven’s local Raspberry Wine, pick up local cheeses like Carr Valley’s Aged Cheddar, or cheat a little and take home an already prepared deli item like the Nutty Quinoa Salad and garnish it with some fresh herbs.


(credit: Crystal Grobe)


Four Twin Cities locations, check their website

While Williams-Sonoma is well known for its vast selection of cooking gadgets and utensils, it is also a great place to find fun pantry items.  A recent visit (and coinciding sale) resulted in purchases of 100 percent cacao, truffle salt and smoked olive oil.


Cooks of Crocus Hill

877 Grand Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55105

3925 West 50th Street
Edina, MN 55424

Sure, Cooks of Crocus Hill has a great supply of specialty olive oils, gourmet vinegars, and dried lavender.  But did you also know they have a crop share program?  During the summer months, shares of fresh berries, peaches, and heirloom tomatoes are available while grass fed beef, veal and heritage turkeys are offered in the cooler months.  These crop shares sell out quickly, as evidenced by the bacon share, which barely hit the website before selling out.

Golden Fig

(credit: Crystal Grobe)

Golden Fig

790 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

Laurie McCann Crowell works hard to ensure local products take center stage at her specialty food store in St. Paul, Golden Fig.  Fresh baked bread from Rustica is delivered daily and The Salty Tart drops off pastries on Saturday mornings.  What really put Golden Fig on the map is their extensive mix of salts, sugars and spices.  If you are looking for just the right thing to add pizzazz to your dish, try sprinkling Sel de Cuisine or Smoked Sea Salt on top for the right finishing touch.

Local D'Lish

(credit: Crystal Grobe)

Local D’Lish

208 N 1st Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401

If the west side of the Twin Cities is more your style, check out Local D’Lish, owned by Ann Yin and her husband, Yulin.  Designed to be an indoor farmers market and retail space, Local D’Lish carries a wide range of products from local farmers and producers and hosts several indoor markets each winter.  Find fresh salsa from Salsa Lisa, Callister Farm chickens and Hope Creamery butter.


Kowalski’s Markets

Nine Twin Cities locations

Shopping at Kowalski’s feels a little more intimate than a normal grocery store.  The lighting is cozy, the store is clean, and shoppers are surrounded by gourmet products like Allesi cannoli shells and an extensive deli selection.   In early 2010, Kowalski’s became the sole Minnesota distributor to carry Akaushi beef, touted as the highest quality beef in the world.


United Noodles

2015 E. 24th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55404

United Noodles is one of those stores where it is best to wander the aisles, filling a basket with flavored mock duck, several types of noodles, and frozen goodies like steamed buns.  Carrying products from many Asian countries, this is the place to go for authentic ingredients.  It is a great source of cooking inspiration and the staff is eager to help find that special item for your next meal.



Various Twin Cities locations

Chances are your local co-op will have the specialty ingredients necessary for your meal.  From vegan Worcestershire to mushroom soy sauce, co-ops have a lot to offer and you do not have to be a member to shop at one.  Co-ops also stock a large variety of local and organic products such as Whole Grain Milling tortilla chips, Pastureland butter and Unpeeled kombucha.

Minneapolis Farmers Market

312 East Lyndale Ave North
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55405

In addition to fresh produce, the Minneapolis Farmers Market is host to many specialty vendors.  Bar 5 fresh eggs are a great addition to a local breakfast, Ames Farm honeycomb spruces up a cheese platter and Blue Gentian Farm heritage chickens are great for roasting.

Mill City Farmers Market

704 2nd Street South
Minneapolis, MN 55401

The Mill City Farmers Market has seen incredible growth over the last couple years as the interest in local and sustainable products has increased.  With only a handful of farmers offering produce, the rest of the market is focused on specialty foods.  French Nugget’s unique spin on French chocolate nougat belongs on a cheese platter along with Lucille’s Kitchen Garden sweet and savory jams while Star Prairie’s smoked or fresh trout makes for an excellent meal addition.  Sunrise Flour Mill sells bags of cornmeal and River Chocolate offers an incredible bourbon chocolate sauce.

-Crystal Grobe is a local food blogger who writes the WCCO blog, Bite of Minnesota, focusing on fresh and local foods in the Twin Cities area.  She is passionate about discovering great food and recipes and enjoys sharing those finds with others.  Crystal also blogs at Café Cyan, City Pages and Twin Cities Food Finds where she talks about cooking, food events and restaurants.