I’ll be the primary to confess that, regardless of being on the campus eating plan, I’m a specialty grocery retailer junkie. Usually, once I would really feel homesick right here, all I needed to do for a style of snacks from house was take a automobile trip with my roommate to the native Recent Thyme or Entire Meals to replenish on produce. That being mentioned, Dealer Joe’s was by no means a retailer I frequented, as I all the time believed it was overpriced and overrated. I can not, nonetheless, drag my busy roommate out within the automobile each week, so when a brand new Dealer Joe’s opened inside strolling distance of campus, I made a decision that I might take a stroll, open my thoughts and see if my prejudices have been mistaken. Certain sufficient, Dealer Joe’s does provide a pleasing walkable location for distinctive novelty snacks and ready meals, together with gluten and dairy-free choices. Nevertheless, their produce part left me disillusioned.

The primary issues in regards to the new Dealer Joe’s that I observed when strolling by means of the doorways have been the shop’s spectacular pure gentle and intensely ethereal ambiance. Once I go to a specialty retailer, I count on an expertise that doesn’t embody overbearing fluorescent gentle and white linoleum flooring — in that regard, no less than, Dealer Joe’s understood the task. With mint-colored partitions and cute check-out stations, Dealer Joe’s makes buyers’s experiences enjoyable. Moreover, strolling to the shop from campus, whereas a little bit of a hike, is an especially nice stroll down Eddy Road. It’s additionally a straightforward drive if in case you have a automobile and need to take one, however I favor to get some contemporary air and make the most of the time earlier than the permacloud.

Earlier than my journey, I had lengthy been skeptical of Dealer Joe’s novelty meals. Retailer gadgets comprise some attention-grabbing taste mixtures — pumpkin tortilla chips, as an illustration — that positively elevate an eyebrow. I selected to select up some pickles, turkey summer time sausage and tamari brown rice crackers with the intention of placing collectively a traditional “school charcuterie.” Because it turned out, I used to be impressed with the entire snacks I purchased. The crackers rocked my world, and are nearly unattainable to ration. Whoever considered tamari sauce on a rice cracker ought to get a elevate. The kosher pickles beat out something that I can get at Goal, and the summer time sausage was scrumptious.

Whereas I didn’t need to utterly obliterate my pockets, I additionally seen the frozen meals and ready items. In case you are a scholar and need to deal with your self to meals that isn’t from the eating corridor, I might say look no additional than Dealer Joe’s ready meals. There are refrigerated soups, chilly rooster breasts marinated in lemon sauce, and frozen meals that will add a enjoyable burst of taste to a uninteresting research session. When it comes to gluten and dairy-free meals, Dealer Joe’s does have choices, however buyers must hunt for them among the many common gadgets, as there isn’t a particular part for dietary restrictions. I additionally observed that different shops, corresponding to Entire Meals and Recent Thyme, have a larger choice of dairy-free yogurts, in addition to goodies and frozen desserts with out allergens.

Whereas Dealer Joe’s excels in prepped meals and snacks, I discover the shop’s produce part to be missing. I’m a fruit junkie, and with the restricted quantity of contemporary fruit on campus, I’ve to get my crucial provide of berries elsewhere. I used to be thrilled to see that Dealer Joe’s had round 5 completely different sizes of blueberry bins, however once I tasted the blueberries at house, they tasted soapy; that is odd, contemplating they have been natural. The grapes I bought have been additionally okay, however the produce I discover at Recent Thyme in Mishawaka is far tastier. Whereas their veggies, corresponding to broccoli slaw and coleslaw, are scrumptious, their subpar fruit high quality sadly retains me from recommending Dealer Joe’s as a “one-stop store” for grocery items.

Dealer Joe’s is sweet, not nice. I must attempt extra of their ready meals to make a better-informed determination on how a lot it lives as much as the hype, however for now I say: Go for the novelties, however don’t keep for the fruit.

Restaurant: Dealer Joe’s

Location: 1140 E. Howard St. South Bend

Type: Grocery retailer

Favourite meals: Rice crackers, multiseed with tamari soy sauce (gluten and dairy-free)

Shamrocks: 3.5 out of 5

Tags: charcuterie, crackers, dairy free, fruit, gluten free, prepared food, produce, snacks, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods

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