Las Vegas continues to serve the city well with convincing depth and variety of international marketplaces—even outside of Chinatown with its markets of Pan-Asian leanings and Hispanic chains such as Mariana’s that have Goya products stacked to the ceilings. Although it’s comforting that the abundance of the aforementioned reflects some diverseness in our demographics, truly international cities go beyond such general breakdowns and contain some jewels—and yes, let us boldly proclaim that Las Vegas is an international city! Tellingly, writing a piece like this is always a good way to measure how far your readers are willing to go for cultural discovery.
The hidden joy of this topic is that it’s constantly evolving. As a fan of international markets who has long been spreading the wise word, I can assure you new markets will follow. These are places that don’t quite get the lip service of their big-box mainstream brethren, but are terrific finds for such things as Red October candies (Russia), mango lassi popsicles (India) and so forth. We at Vegas Seven can’t claim with solvency how long some of these smaller venues will last (this is where I slip in a R.I.P. for the beloved British Grocers, a Westside store selling U.K. products that ended a 20-year-run earlier this year). Still, like all good things, appreciate them in small doses and you almost can’t go wrong.
International Marketplace. I’m a fan for this one because it specializes in Asian foods of enormous variety, from pho broths to an array of udon, Thai spices, Hawaiian guava and coconut jellies—the list is endless. And let’s dispel the notion that it’s just an Asian storefront. Pay attention and you’ll find a decent selection of U.K. cheeses and quick entrées in the frozen foods section, delicious German dumplings, Scandinavian rosette cookies (just try ’em!) and so forth. Sure the aisles are crammed, but bumping items off the shelves and reading the label can be a nice introduction to new foods—now I’m a fan of Filipino pinoy snacks, for example. 5000 S. Decatur Blvd., 889-2888.
Siena Deli. This is still a winning choice for an Italian market on the city’s Westside. It’s ripe with atmospheric moments, which means, yes, loud men screaming in Italian at their football and the pride of the red, white and green everywhere a flag could be placed. It’s a combination deli/market with a strong emphasis on imports (i.e. the inventory is considerable): wafer niccoliolas, chestnut cream spread, the variety of Lavazza coffee packages, brunet cheese and those meats… There’s something about fresh pepperoni and mortadella that only enhances a second look at those travel brochures to Italia. 9500 W. Sahara Ave., 736-8424.
India Market. A fantastic store that’s proving its success with staying power as well as its top-shelf inventory—approaching 15 years and there are no signs of those delicious masala roasted cashews and peanuts stopping now. They have quite a sweet selection of healthy alternatives to frozen food like veggie samosas and corn seekh kebabs, and always a solid stock of mainstays like Basmati rice and naan breads. There is a good emphasis on spices aside from the cumin seed you can buy at Cost Plus World Market. Ever tried an Indian gooseberry? Neither have I, but I’m glad the option is here for me. And hell, only a crank could walk by the frozen treats section and turn their nose at the mango lassi popsicles. A touch cluttered in arrangement, but the unerringly friendly staff more than make up for it with kind service to sort you through it all. 5006 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite 7, 736-6677.
Jones Eastern European Market & Deli International. This place won’t quite make you feel you’re in Eastern Europe, but it’s close enough for this fan of Moscow ham, Czech pale ales and Bulgarian eggplant. The customer service is a bit on the brusque side, but if you’re patient, excellent things await. Kolozvary (smoked Hungarian bacon) and said Moscow ham hold their own for rich flavor, the hearty texture of Kiev bread is a must for spreads, and the Bulgarian sheep feta cheese is a downright delight along with some wine for a lazy summer afternoon. Oh, and the Red Octobers—a Russian brand of chocolates that come in a variety of flavors with distinctive wrappers—call for your inner glutton. I don’t have the space to go through the extensive beer and wine selection, but trust me, it is impressive. 3389 S. Jones Blvd., 367-4345.
Zaytoon Mediterranean Restaurant and Market. Such a shame. Here’s a stylish little Westside deli and market with reasonable prices and goods, yet so few people know about it. Perhaps till now. The market is not particularly large, but what they have will serve you well. Spices such as cumin, sumac and turmeric will start you off well for innumerable simple foreign dishes. Breads such as pita, lavash and naan are on hand as are handy snacks like Turkish delights and pistachio nougat. Sea salt breadsticks are smart additions to that party tray you’re about to put together, and don’t forget the complimentary bottles of thyme water that will impress your friends for some reason. 3655 S. Durango Drive, Suites 11-14, 685-1875.