When we lived on the North Side of Chicago one of our favorite specialty grocery stories was Patel Brothers on Devon Avenue (2610 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL). Devon Avenue, one of the most fascinating streets in Chicago, has large concentration of Indian and Pakistani shops and businesses (and at various other stretches is also home to Jewish and Slavic communities). For the Indian and Pakistani community, Patel Brothers served as the anchor grocery store in the neighborhood. You could find anything you wanted there, from frozen ready-made foods to bulk spices to obscure grains to fresh fruit to hundreds of varieties of packaged salty snacks (yum!). When we were in Jackson Heights in Queens several years ago, we came across another Patel Brothers and we realized that it was the same chain! Now in Cleveland, we are near yet another Patel brothers. Turns out that the Patel brothers we frequented in Chicago is the original, opened in 1974, by brothers Mafat and Tulasi Patel, who immigrated from the Indian state of Gujarat in 1968. The grocery store chain has since expanded into an empire of 52 company-owned stores, and into a line of foods that is sold elsewhere, Swad. It is interesting to learn that one of the strongest footholds of Indian food in the US originated in Chicago!
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We are obsessed with old school Italian groceries, and we absolutely pine for an offshoot of our gold standard, Tenuta’s to open in Chicago. Laurenzo’s (16445 W Dixie Hwy, North Miami Beach, FL 33160) is Miami’s answer to Tenuta’s, an old-school 1960s era supermarket with a little restaurant inside and a prodigious selection of olive oil and cheese. We were on our way to Hollywood beach for the day, so we decided we needed to pack a perfect picnic. Fortunately, Laurenzo’s had everything that we needed. We wandered the aisles, spending some extra time in front of the cheese counter, where we spied imported mozzarella and provolone. The baked goods selection was also pretty impressive, with a rainbow selection of Italian cookies and house-made cannoli. We could have piled up a basket or two of food, but we tried to keep our appetites in check. Check out the photos below of our wanderings through the store (and of course, we’ll definitely be back next time we end up in Miami). We ended up buying some crostini, buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto. These are our typical picnic fixin’s, but not typical beach food. We still think it pairs pretty well with the sun and sand!