Here are the real hidden gems of Niagara Falls: international food markets. All are small businesses we hope never go under; all bring the flavours of farway lands that you can’t find anywhere else in the Falls. Whether it’s Japanese nattō, red Thai curry paste, Indian bay leaves, Chinese mooncakes or goat meat (yes, the only place in the Falls we’ve found goat meat is on this list), you’ll find them here. These are the kinds of spots we wish Niagara Falls had more of: richly diverse, independently owned and close enough that you don’t have to get on the QEW.
Thai Binh Asian Food
This unassuming shop, on Drummond just north of McLeod, stocks unique pan-Asian groceries you literally can’t find anywhere else in the city. Japanese soba noodles, Thai curry pastes, authentic Korean kimchee, Chinese moon cakes, all types of seaweed and various frozen meats (the only place you can find goat that we know of)—it’s all for sale on their jam-packed shelves and back room of industrial freezers, and they’re not the same generic supermarket brands you’ll find at No Frills.
Since South Asians are the largest visible minority community in the Falls, it’s not surprising that Patel Grocers is thriving on Lundy’s Lane. Yes, the FreshCo down the street at Kalar has an impressive selection of Indian snacks and basmati rice, but it’s nothing compared to what you can find at Patel, where handmade barfi, paneer, gulab jamun, rows of spices and 20-pound bags of atta flour fill the space. Add some hot prepared food and excellent pricing, and you’ve got a local mainstay.
Patty’s Delights: Peruvian Cuisine
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Continuing the theme of hybrid shop-cum-takeout spots, Patty’s is a delightful entry to Victoria Ave. that popped up in the wake of the pandemic. Since then, it’s evolved into a genuine hotspot for local Latinos looking for ceviche, lomo saltado, empanadas and some of the best Peruvian-style tamales in the province. Dinnertimes are hectic inside, with their two dining tables packed, Patty and her husband working hard in the small kitchen, and their phone ringing off the hook. Stop by when it’s less busy to browse their extensive selection of Peruvian sweets, teas and cheese (particularly queso fresco), as well as soft drinks like Inca Cola and chicha that you won’t easily find elsewhere in Niagara Falls.
Hidden beside a sushi restaurant down the street from the cereal factory, Niagara Kyo-Mart is unique on this list—their website has online shopping, they offer a loyalty card to frequent shoppers and their store is (no offence to Patel and Thai Binh) way better organized than the rest. But there are a few trade-offs for this strong brand presence: their offerings are a little slim, and run-of-the-mill items like soy sauce and instant noodles are clearly more expensive here. If you need a certain brand of Japanese tamari soy sauce, that may justify the cost, but the real reason to visit are all the things you can’t find anywhere else: matcha powder, red bean paste, rice seasoning, pickled vegetables and other uniquely Japanese products.
The best burek in the city lives here, at this small Balkan mart, tucked away behind an Esso gas station on Lundy’s Lane. Balkan Deli is the place for imported groceries from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Bulgaria and anywhere else in the southeastern region of Europe. Ajvar, fresh cheeses, house-made pastries and Turkish coffee are, of course, on order here, but Balkan Deli surprises with plenty of gluten-free options as well (such as almond and walnut cookies, which are conveniently gluten-free Balkan mainstays), as well as massive bags of organic flours. We can’t vouch for their sandwich selection, but the bake-at-home burek is as good as any burek we’ve had in the Balkans.
The premiere Middle Eastern and Arab grocer in Niagara Falls is Bazaar Istanbul, a spacious food market on Thorold Stone near Dorchester. Sweets, oils, olives, nuts and spices pack this neatly organized shop, while fresh baklava and Turkish delight are served up in their corner deli, and as if that weren’t enough, an entire shelf dedicated to halva is mouthwatering. Plus, the guys who work here are always friendly and helpful.