I’ve always loved grocery shopping. Even when I’m home from college for break, I’m happy to accompany my mom on a trip to Hy-Vee. Yes, I know that’s weird. As a freshman and sophomore, it was always fun to make a trip to Star Market with my roommate to stock up on Oreos. But now that I’m actually cooking myself meals on a daily basis with these groceries, things have changed. I’ve shopped around a lot trying to decide which place is the best in terms of offerings, prices, store layout, and convenience. Here’s what you need to know.
Location: 200 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill
BC does offer a shuttle to Wegmans Thursday through Sunday, but you have to time that perfectly, so your best bet most days is to Uber, drive, or walk if you’re close enough.
The good: They have a fantastic cheese and produce selection, and sell a lot of things I can’t find other places (like mini pepperoni and large jugs of Ocean Spray light cranberry juice). People rave about their pre-prepared foods section, which is similar to that of Whole Foods, but it also has a decent health section, so you don’t have to make a separate trip for Advil or face wash.
The bad: Honestly, I really just don’t like the layout of this store. It doesn’t seem very logical to me, and I always lose my friends. Additionally, if you go on a weekend afternoon, the entire city of Chestnut Hill and Boston College student body will be there. For all the raving New Englanders do about this place, it’s not my favorite.
Products worth trying: Again, they have awesome cheeses. And this is the only place I’ve ever seen cotton-candy grapes, which is cool.
Location: 1 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill
Basically the same deal as the Wegmans shuttle, but not as bad of a walk. I tend to Uber home because of my bags, though.
The good: This Star Market is really nice because it’s technically a test location, so there’s even a cool elevator for carts. I love the selection of produce here, and prices are pretty reasonable. This place is probably the most comparable to my grocery store back home in terms of selection, which is nice. Really good selection in the freezer, dairy, and meats as well. If you come during the late morning / early afternoon during the week, it’s usually blissfully empty, which is also really nice.
The bad: Not a ton of complaints here, but I feel like they don’t have the best selection of like pharmacy type products, so I usually make a trip to the adjacent CVS. The cash register area’s a bit cramped, which also isn’t ideal.
Products worth trying: This is the only place I’ve ever seen Fairlife milk, which is amazing (it’s lactose free, has amazing shelf-life, and more protein than a Luna bar). I also live for their pre-packaged apple slices. And they sell bread from When Pigs Fly Bakery, which is one of my kitchen staples.
I also go to the Star Market by Fenway sometimes, which is very similar. Main distinguishers: they have an alcohol section for those over 21, it’s T accessible, it’s insanely crowded and cramped at night.
Location: 15 Washington Street, Brighton
Super easy T ride from the Chiswick stop, or a very cheap Uber if you live in the Brighton off campus area.
The good: I go here a lot simply because it’s just so convenient. Not going to lie, I also just love the atmosphere of this store and the friendly employees. They sell naan bread, which I haven’t found anywhere else, and I also can sometimes get my When Pigs Fly bread here. Also it seems like they’re always having a sale on Honeycrisp apples. It’s a really nice size, too.
The bad: I feel like the price point kind of goes without saying for Whole Foods. Not the cheapest option for broke college students. Also, they’re often out of things I need, which is how I came to own a Basil plant when I went in for basil for a recipe. And honestly, there’s sometimes stuff you need or want that whole foods just doesn’t sell because ~healthiness~.
Products worth trying: Not a ton I’d specifically recommend from here, but I do like the naan I mentioned earlier. And they have really good sea salt and milk chocolate covered toffee.
Location: 470 Washington Street, Brighton
Definitely walkable if you live in the Foster/Gerald/South area, but not really accessible through public transportation.
The good: It’s tiny, but it manages to have an emphasis on organic and fresh food and still has a really decent selection, especially with produce and stuff like pasta and baking ingredients. Also their gluten free section is pretty impressive. Some pre-prepared foods are available, but I haven’t tried any of it.
The bad: Doesn’t really have the shelf space of a traditional grocery store, so I wouldn’t ever really do all of my grocery shopping here. And be prepared for self-checkout and bagging.
Products worth trying: I love that I can buy individual frozen salmon filets here. And I also found this eggless cookie dough that you can eat raw so that was cool.
Location: 1317 Beacon Street, Brookline
Right off the C line’s Coolidge Corner stop, or again, another cheap Uber / short drive.
The good: It’s nice that Trader Joe’s is basically the same wherever you go. Really love their selection of freezer meals for when I feel too busy or rushed to really cook something. Tons of unique products that you can’t find other places. Also a really good price point; I’m always amazed by how much I can get for my money here.
The bad: If you time it wrong, it will be insanely crowded. Most stuff is store brand, so you might not be able to find some of those products you swear by. Another place where you’ll have to make a separate trip for stuff like Advil.
Products worth trying: Literally I could list so much here but my favorites are the chicken potstickers, vegetable fried rice, prosciutto burrata frozen flatbread, Scandinavian swimmers, and pico de gallo.
Location: 1341 Boylston Street, Boston
Really easy to take the D line to the Fenway stop here. I pretty much never Uber.
The good: Honestly, I love Target, and it’s great that I can get my shampoo and moisturizer here, as well as stuff like socks, birthday cards, kitchen tools, and some groceries. It’s not my top choice for grocery shopping, but there’s a Star Market across the street, so it’s nice to come to this area and basically get everything I need in one trip.
The bad: My roommate has very strong opinions about the quality of the produce here, and I think the dairy and freezer sections are a little lacking. I don’t really go here to grocery shop per se, but they have most of the basics if I need to pick something up.
Products worth trying: The only thing I can think of here are these blocks of cheese that they tell you which wine to pair with. Also one time I bought some pretty good frozen P.F. Chang’s egg rolls. And I can always count on them to carry my individual minute rice packs.
Side note: seriously never bother with the Target on the B line on BU’s campus. I was tempted by the convenience but it’s literally a glorified CVS.
I haven’t made it to every grocery store in Boston yet (Stop & Shop, I’m coming for you), but based on the one’s I have gone to, I have to say my favorite is definitely Star Market. But as you can see, I have incredibly nuanced shopping needs so I tend to find myself in all of these places. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.