123 Lexington Ave.
between E. 28th/29th Sts.
Home cooks and professional chefs from all over the country shop here for an unmatched selection of spices, flavorings and exotic ingredients. But for New Yorkers, this is our local spice market with its tall, narrow aisles lined with shelves holding jars, bins and plastic bags filled with a remarkable selection of spices, dried beans and peas, chutneys, chiles and peppers, noodles from around the world, dried fruit, honey, coffee, tea and much more.
The store was renovated and expanded in 2015, making it far easier to navigate. Plus there's room for more items, such as a much-enlarged salt section. If you can't find something or need some advice on what to choose, the staff is very helpful.
If you've got the discipline to replace your dried herbs and spices once a year, this is where to go. Even if you're only looking to restock a jar of black peppercorns, here you'll find a half-dozen different kinds from India, Ecuador, Vietnam, China, and elsewhere, sold in quantities from 50 mg to 5 pounds. They sell over 60 kinds of mustard and even more hot sauces.
The store also sells hard-to-find canned and frozen ingredients, like preserved lemons, plus prepared foods. They have dozens of kinds of rice, couscous, fregola, lentils, and baking ingredients, including a huge selection of extracts and flavorings.
What to avoid:
If you go to Kalustyan's without a shopping list, you can get lost in its diversity. Sure, go and be adventuresome, but be prepared to come home with a jar of ghee and absolutely no idea what to do with it.
What to know:
Ingredients like spices, nuts and dried fruits can fade in flavor as they sit on a shelf, whether it's your shelf or that of the store where you buy them. But one of the many plusses of Kalustyan's is that they are busy and their inventory turns, so if you go there for cinnamon for your Thanksgiving apple pie, you don't have to worry that it's been collecting dust in a warehouse -- instead it will be fresh and still kicking.
The upstairs has a cookware and kitchenware department. The first floor has a nice variety of Middle-Eastern baked desserts and also a variety of cookbooks to help you use some of what the store sells, especially in Asian, South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines.