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Gourmet Garage, a five-store chain of airy, well-lit gourmet supply shops, features unusual imports (think Moroccan anchovy paste) as well as fresh organic produce, well-priced private-label oils, pastas, snacks, and vinegars, and distinctively strong Peet's coffee, from Berkeley, California. The fact that the Garage's offerings seem utterly familiar and increasingly ubiquitous is an odd testament to its success, as purveyors of imported exotica to America's top chefs. In the store's salad days over 25 years ago, when it was named Flying Foods, only chefs were permitted to stroll the warehouse aisles, but a hungry public demanded access—and were eventually allowed in, but only after the busy, early morning hours, once chefs from New York's best eateries had plundered the stocks. After the sale of the Flying Foods brand to Kraft Foods, the original owner opened Gourmet Garage, with new outlets steadily added. Epicures can happily fill their market baskets with a varied selection of high-end dry and imported goods, but cognoscenti head for the top-quality private-label staples, which easily compete with higher-profile imports. For eaters on the run, fresh-made sandwiches and wraps—upscale variations on standard American fare, like tuna with chipotle mayo—are available by the bushel basket. Each store features takeout soups and a sushi bar.Extra
Gourmet Garage offers same-day delivery in Manhattan for telephone orders placed before 6 p.m.; minimum order is $25, with a $2.50 delivery fee.