Market Basket in Union Square, Somerville, is the best grocery store ever. You don’t often see reviews for a grocery store that talk about the adventure of shopping there, or referencing a charming chaos, but if I were to write one, those are the exact words I’d use. Speaking of reviews, here’s a good one.
Market Basket is dirty, crowded, and cheap. Because of how quickly it turns over, it has the best produce in Boston (except for maybe the garlic). If you can get in and out of there without having to drive or use a shopping cart, you’ll be totally fine. If you have to park, check out one of the side streets because the parking lot is a nightmare patrolled by police detail. If you need a shopping cart, go somewhere else because you’ll just slow everyone down and get frustrated.
In the “12 Items or Less” line, I’ve seen people with 14 items sent away. Around the holidays, these express lines are overseen by a 2nd police detail, while the aisle between the other checkout lines and the store is completely impassable. My favorite time to go is Sunday night about 25 minutes before closing. It’s still jammed, but not hopeless, almost as if everyone knows what they’re doing.
You can get incredibly obscure ethnic food items, but good luck finding them, because the products seem to change from week to week. Cold cuts at the deli are often $1-$2 less than other area grocery stores.
In my mind, Market Basket fits the personality of Union Square perfectly as well as complimenting the many nearby ethnic markets. Check it out if you think you can handle it.