Published on September 23, 2019

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photo by Aaron Bernstein

Rows of nut butters, spreads, and oils, arranged categorically, line sleek white shelves. Nearby, a small assortment of indie magazines lay out, asking to be browsed, and T-shirts with snack emblazoned across the front sit in a pile, awaiting owners. This is the grocery store of dreams—but it’s only open for a month. 

Pop Up Grocer, a small-scale, health-focused supermarket, has returned to New York’s SoHo neighborhood for the second time and will be open for business until October 20. Here, customers can snag everything from natural toothpaste to mushroom jerky and so much more (seriously, there are products from more than 150 brands) and have a good time while doing so. 

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photo by Aaron Bernstein

“There are a lot of boutique groceries in New York that feel somewhat morally imposing—like you’re supposed to eat a certain way, and there’s a little bit of guilt associated with it,” says founder Emily Schildt. “We want people to feel like exploring food choices is a really fun activity.” Here, she shares the pantry essentials she simply can’t live without, so you can be sure to scoop them up yourself.

The Put-It-on-Everything Chili Crisp

“Fly by Jing was founded by a woman named Jenny Gao. The brand makes three different products now, all of which I have in my pantry, but the Sichuan Chili Crisp is my obsession. It’s one of those things that, when you have it, you’re like, How did I live life before this? I put it on everything; I put it on eggs, on salad. My favorite snack is half an avocado with some Chili Crisp in the center and a bit of sea salt. It also makes an amazing marinade for fish.”

The Olive Oil That Actually Tastes Like Olive Oil

“Brightland olive oil is out of California and founded by a woman named Aishwarya Iyer, who is the nicest person and entrepreneur among us [Editor’s note: check out Iyer’s bright and airy kitchen]. There are two main kinds (in addition to special editions), Alive and Awake, which have very distinct vibes. Extra virgin oils that are actually extra virgin have flavor, so I love making an al dente pasta and just using the oil with some lemon juice, salt, and pepper. When you have good ingredients, it doesn’t take much for it to really shine.”

The Feel-Good Pasta

“I always have Banza’s mac and cheese in my pantry because it’s just a good, nostalgic treat. It’s a Friday night, Netflix-and-chill meal. Since it’s made with chickpeas, it has a bit of a heartier flavor. You can feel a little sneaky about it, because it still tastes indulgent.”

The Upgraded Chips

“I discovered Miss Marjorie’s plantain chips at this little boutique grocery in my neighborhood. They come in a big box, but then they’re individually packed for single servings, which prevents me from eating the whole box in one sitting. It’s a special-feeling snack. If, all of a sudden, you have people coming over or any kind of situation where you need to quickly make an appetizer or something presentable, they feel much more exciting than just a chip.”

The No-Nonsense Nut Butter

“Nut butter is basically a food group for me, and I love The Purely Pecans butters. They’re new in our selection and come in three delicious flavors—my favorite is the sweet potato. The company also makes a sea salt one that’s really simple and delicious. I put it on toast or in some yogurt, or you can even dip pretzels in it.”

See more wellness:
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The Best Plants to Keep in Your Kitchen
Living Alone Was Isolating—Until I Made This Change

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