A large percentage of residents in Northern Virginia are immigrants. "Virginia has the 17th highest foreign-born population out of 50 states. Immigrant Virginians are 39% White, 34.7% Asian and 11.6% Black. Latinxs, considered an ethnicity by the Census Bureau and of any racial background, comprise 33% of all foreign-born Virginians or 351,881 people."(Source: www.dss.va.gov)
With that many immigrants, it's no wonder so many great food stores here cater to different cultures. The food gods have blessed Springfield, Virginia with a wide variety of choices for foreigners and recent immigrants.
We visited some familiar places plus a few others that you might not know about.
1. LA Mart
Located on Bland Road in Springfield, LA Mart offers fresh fruits, vegetables, canned items and robust meat and seafood sections. They also have Halal selections. Customers must ask the attendants to retrieve their seafood selections. There are two other LA Marts in the area, one in Alexandria, the other is in College Park, MD.
Lidl stores originated in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Lidl operates in 32 countries and consider themselves curators of quality products. 80% of their product offerings are their own private label. The unique thing about Lidl is that the items offered in the household goods section as well change every week. There is a new circular for the specials every Wednesday. The Springfield Lidle is on Commerce street and it is across Bland from LA Mart. There about 14 Lidl stores in Northern Virginia and 6 in Suburban Maryland.
Aldi is another store that orginates in Germany. About ten years older than Lidl, Aldi is another "curated" grocery store. Their in-season produce is sourced locally and 90% of their products are store branded. Aldi is a company that prides itself in environmental responsibility with its green vision and making sustainable shopping affordable. Aldi is also off of Commerce Street in Springfield. There are 16 other stores in Northern Virginia including Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church. Ther is one in DC and one in the Maryland suburb of Oxon Hill.
3. El Grande Supermercado (Fresh World)
Located off of Backlick Road in North Springfield, this is hands down my favorite grocery store. The sheer volume of fruits and vegetables available is astounding. I love the variety that's available at Fresh World. You can find things that you just can't find in an "American" store. There is an entire produce case dedicated to peppers and another to squashes and eggplants. If you're looking for Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Hispanic, Philipino, or Middle Eastern favorites, you'll likely find it at El Grande.
The most amazing part of El Grande in my opinion is the fish market. There are fish here that I'd never heard of before. It has always been a goal of mine to buy something I don't normally buy and enjoy something different.
The butcher shop offers pork, chicken, beef as well as a wide selction of "offal" that you don't normally find in other stores. Here you can find chicken feet, beef tongue, chitterlings, tripas, sweetbreads and livers. There is a large selection of Halal meat choices as well. Oddly enough, I've never been able to find any fresh turkey there. Other locations of Fresh World are Reston, Manassas, and Woodbridge (coming August 2021.)
Other ethnic stores in the area include New Grand Mart, H Mart, Lotte Plaza, The Fresh Market, European Foods Import/Export, and countless other bodegas around town. In Springfield, there is Desi Bazar, La Latina, Afghan Mini Market, Super Halal Meat, Manila Oriental Market, Thai Shop, Metro Market, Phước Hưng Market, to name a few. (I'll cover these in part 2 of this series.)
I love that I live in an area that has so much to offer for everyone.