Pooja Grocers (Hilltop, MN)

No restaurant report this week. Instead, I have for you a look at one of the Twin Cities’ premier Indian grocery stores, Pooja Grocers in Hilltop. Pooja Grocers was already around when we arrived in Minnesota in 2007, though not in the same location. It was in Hilltop then as well but in the massive strip mall that also contains the venerable Korean grocery, Dong Yang. Pooja Grocers was a large business then too and I’m not sure what occasioned the move to the new location some years later. And I’m not sure when exactly the move took place either, as by then we were not doing our Indian and Korean food shopping at the north end of the metro. By the early mid-2010s, more and more Indian groceries had opened up around the south metro, and once we happened on Hana Market in Bloomington there really wasn’t any need for us to make the longer trek to Hilltop. Yes, both Dong Yang and Pooja Grocers are larger than their south metro counterparts but we can pretty much get what we need there.

Indeed, in the case of Pooja Grocers, we can get some things we need at the smaller TBS Mart in Bloomington and Mantra Bazaar in Apple Valley that we can’t get at Pooja Grocers. That’s because Pooja Grocers does not carry non-vegetarian foods: no frozen fish, no goat or other meats. Indeed, even back in the day I rarely went to Pooja Grocers if the missus was not also going to Dong Yang. This because the Little India market further south on Central had a large meat and frozen fish section and pretty much everything else I would have wanted from Pooja Grocers. Well, not everything. The best reason to go to Pooja Grocers over other desi stores, then and now, may be their large selection of freshly made Indian snacks. Of course, if you live in the northern suburbs and don’t need meat or fish, it may be the most convenient option for you.

All that said, here is a look at the store. I visited in the middle of a weekday in early December, right after my first lunch at NY Gyro, which is just down the street. I was one of very few people in the store at the time, which may have exacerbated the slightly sterile feel I got from the place. The older location certainly had more natural light. But the store is as fully stocked as before (as long as your needs are vegetarian) and it remains the most comprehensive Indian grocery in the Twin Cities (as long as your needs are vegetarian). I can’t say I was moved by what I found to start coming back here again for my Indian shopping needs, but I’ll certainly stop by again when we next eat at NY Gyro. If nothing else, I’ll pick up some samosas, as I did on this occasion as well.

For a look at the store and what they carry, click on a picture below to launch the slideshow. Scroll down to see what’s coming next.

What’s next on the blog? Tomorrow I’ll have a recipe and on Friday the third of this week’s reviews of malts from Caol Ila. There’s a good chance I’ll post the first of my reports from December’s southern California trip. And next week I will probably start up my reports from Delhi, where I am till the end of the month.

Oh yes, speaking of Dong Yang, we stopped there after our second meal at NY Gyro. I might post a look at them as well at the end of next week.



2 thoughts on “Pooja Grocers (Hilltop, MN)

  1. Just up the road from where you were, up on University (across from Northtown mall) are two really good, and good-sized, Middle Eastern markets, both with small food stalls: the newest is stand-alone Pangea (I think DeRusha wrote it up recently). Very clean and bright. Adjacent in the strip mall is Sun Market; has been there a few years, and has an open bakery at the back. Four different kinds of Iranian bread, and every morning, or most mornings I think, you can watch the friendly bakers bake it up, then buy it. I get the big round one. I roll up the extra and freeze it, and reheat in the oven with ghee on it. You can also buy their home made falafel batter by the tub to fry up at home. It’s all yum. Hope you can make it – even from as far away as that little college town.


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