8 places where you can buy groceries in downtown Kitchener

Sobeys and Zehrs have yet to make their mark in downtown Kitchener, but local grocer Sam Nabi says that doesn’t mean you can’t buy groceries in the city’s core.

Think there are no grocery stores downtown? Think again, local grocer says

Sam Nabi, co-owner of Full Circle Foods, says there are about a dozen grocery options in downtown Kitchener. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Sobeys and Zehrs have yet to make their mark in downtown Kitchener, but that doesn't mean you can't buy groceries in the city's core.

There are about a dozen places to buy food and other grocery staples downtown, according to Sam Nabi.

"I think people just can't place it in their heads what is available here," said Nabi, the co-owner of Full Circle Foods.

"Especially for people that are new to the city, it's hard to find all the little places where you can buy food downtown. And for a household like ours that doesn't own a car, it makes it a lot easier to know that there are options here."

While large chain grocery stores have become the norm in the suburbs, Nabi said they have remained largely absent from many urban cores and smaller local stores are starting to fill the gaps.

Nabi recently led a walking tour of the grocery options in downtown Kitchener and highlighted eight stores for people to check out on their next shopping trip.

Legacy Greens is one of downtown Kitchener's newest grocery stores. It offers fresh produce from local growers. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Legacy Greens

18 Ontario St. N

Top grocery items: Fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, dairy, grab and go lunches, locally made soaps and candles

Owner Jordan Dolson said Legacy Greens started as a part-time market garden in 2014 on her parents' dairy farm in Atwood, On, growing greens, herbs, tomatoes and ground cherries. It has since blossomed into a full-fledged retail store. Nabi said Dolson does great work bringing fresh produce to the core — something that is often missing in urban centres.

The East African Cafe has been a downtown Kitchener mainstay for many years. Afri-Can Market is a new addition, with unique grocery options like green coffee beans. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Afri-Can Market

50 Ontario St. S

Top grocery items: green coffee beans, honey, flour

Afri-Can Market is a new offshoot of the popular restaurant, East African Cafe. Aside from carrying variety store staples, Nabi said there are some unique food finds like green coffee beans that can be roasted and ground at home.

Mi Tienda Latina offers a wide range of Latin American grocery staples, along with authentic homemade dishes like pupusas. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Mi Tienda Latina

103 Ontario St. S

Top grocery items: refried beans, plantains, adobo chiles, hot sauce, cheese, tortillas

"This is such a pillar of the community," Nabi said. Shoppers can order pupusas and other homemade dishes while picking up their groceries. Nabi said the store offers a real sense of community, along with a wide selection of authentic Latin American foods.

The Hasty Market might boast downtown Kitchener's only butcher counter, along with pantry staples and household goods. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Hasty Market

103 Ontario St. S

Top grocery items: chicken breasts, ground beef, spices, fresh flat breads, rice, pet food

This Hasty Market doesn't just offer snacks and lottery tickets, Nabi said. The store boasts a butcher counter and deli, pantry staples and household goods. Another plus: they're open late.

Full Circle Foods is known for its bulk section, but owner Sam Nabi says he has started to expand their grocery options since taking over the store in 2018. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Full Circle Foods

3 Charles St. W

Top grocery items: bulk dry goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, organic and vegan options, vitamins and supplements

Nabi and his partner Julia Gogoleva took over Full Circle Foods just over a year ago, but the store has been in the community since 1981. Nabi said they are trying to bring in more grocery staples, in addition to the bulk food section and health food options the store is known for.

Dollarama might not be the first store you think of for grocery shopping, but it has several aisles of food staples at affordable prices. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)


61 King St. E.

Top grocery items: Crackers, canned foods, rice, spices, pet food

Dollarama might seem like an unconventional place to buy groceries, but Nabi said dollar stores are becoming a big part of the food market across North America. Most dollar stores stock a wide range of products, often at more affordable prices than big box grocers.

Variety stores like the Evergreen Mini-Mart are a good option for downtown grocery shoppers, because they often stock basic food items and household goods.

Evergreen Mini-Mart

16 King St. E.

Top grocery items: flour, sugar, rice, cereal, milk, eggs, pet supplies

Although variety stores can stock groceries at a higher price point, Nabi said they are still a good option for people on the go downtown. Evergreen Mini-Mart carries pantry staples, as well as pet supplies like cat litter.

J&P Grocery has become a popular spot for coffee and lunches, in addition to stocking grocery staples and locally-made products. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

J&P Grocery

8 Queen St. N

Top grocery items: fresh bread, local meat, eggs, milk, fruits and veggies, prepared foods, giftware

Nabi said J&P Grocery started as European-style grocer, but has since grown through collaborations with other local businesses. "It's less of a traditional grocery store and more like a market hall, where they've got different vendors in little corners," he said. The store has also become a popular place to grab lunch or a coffee.