For the past few weeks, there has been much noise made about the opening of Trader Joe’s in Union Square. Journalists and bloggers have rhapsodized over the friendly Hawaiian-shirted staff, the cheap wasabi peas, and the bottles of Two-Buck Chuck. Lines of customers have snaked around the store and down the sidewalk. I haven’t been there yet, although I’m sure I’ll check it out soon, but I fail to see why everyone is so excited about yet another chain store taking up valuable downtown real estate and making New York look even more like a suburban shopping mall.

Much more exciting to me is the nearly unheralded opening about six weeks ago of Despaña in Soho. This inviting little storefront on Broome Street between Lafayette Street and Cleveland Place is packed with amazing imported specialty foods from Spain. I visited recently and was swooning over the selection of pickled vegetables, cured meats and olives, juices, seafoods, and creamy and pungent cheeses. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable, and sample dishes lined the shelves and counters. There were no bargains to be had, but I definitely plan to treat myself to something new here at least once a week. I’m already having dreams of a tapas party…

Advertisements