If you’re not from northern New Jersey, southwestern Connecticut, or New York City (and surrounding counties) – the so-called “tri-state area” – chances are you haven’t heard of Fairway Market.
Heck, even if you are, there’s a strong possibility you’ve never been to one. With just 15 stores, Fairway is one of the smaller regional grocery chains (there are nearly 100 Wegmans stores).
It’s also one of the better regional grocery chains – Fairway is, by far, the best supermarket in New York City. I went on a tour of the Red Hook, Brooklyn-based store to find out why:
The Fairway Market in Red Hook has an unfair advantage: an absurdly gorgeous, clear view of the Statue of Liberty.
But let’s head to the supermarket instead. From the outside, Fairway Market looks like any other grocery store …
… but things start to look different once you set foot inside. What I like most about Fairway is the incredible selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies.
More than just fresh and seasonal stuff, Fairway carries a variety of produce from the region …
… and the selection is absolutely absurd. This is just the first aisle of produce.
Here we come upon an example of why I’m a die-hard Fairway Market customer: Fairway goes all the way in on selection. These are just some of the chilli peppers available on an average Wednesday afternoon.
Another crucial point: Not only is the selection killer, but it’s remarkably fresh.
Just look at this absurdly gorgeous, curly parsley!
Fairway’s obsessive dedication to selection extends beyond produce — this is just half of the extraordinary olive bar, which features a massive vat of capers alongside an large selection of olives, pickles, and various pickled items.
Let’s move on to cheese for a moment, because this is quite a cheese selection. Fairway not only offers a wide variety of different cheeses, but it also offers locally made cheeses.
Fairway also makes its own fresh mozzarella on site.
But maybe you’re just looking for some massive hunks of real Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy? Those are scattered around liberally.
The butcher section is especially great — not only does Fairway make sausage in-house …
… there’s also an in-house dry-ageing program!
On the other side of the butcher case, a wealth of seafood is laid out over ice. Next to that, unlike most supermarkets, is a case full of lobster!
Moving past the meat and seafood section, Fairway really demonstrates its obsessive dedication to food-loving shoppers: An entire section of the store is focused solely on olive oil. There are even little tasters set up so you can try olive oils before dropping any cash.
But perhaps you’re more of a coffee person?
Good news: There is an absolutely ridiculous selection of coffee that gets roasted on-site, and can then be ground to your desired fine-ness.
Notably, I haven’t even begun speaking about absolutely jam-packed aisles full of thousands of items from all over the world. There is no wasted space at Fairway.
Here’s just one snapshot of a single section of a single aisle, absolutely teeming with stuff. It’s a little overwhelming at first, honestly, but after a few visits, it’s hard to go back to normal grocery stores.
In 2019, visiting Fairway Market feels like visiting Whole Foods at its peak. Each store feels like its own distinct entity — a reflection of the community it serves.