Bristol Farms is known as a Los Angeles-based gourmet/high-end market. A new Bristol Farms Newfound Market opened at Irvine Spectrum last year, and I finally made the 50-mile drive south for a visit a few weeks ago.
When it comes to markets, do you get higher quality when you pay more? Not always. You need to look into the ingredients, sourcing, and nutrient density. You know yourself best when it comes to budget and lifestyle. I’ve done grocery shopping at Walmart before.
When you go into Bristol Farms, you can feel the gourmet ambiance. They put extra attention into the layout and presentation of the store. You have plenty of options to choose from. You come here because you’re stopping by Irvine Spectrum, or you’re tired of the downhill that Whole Foods have been going ever since Amazon bought them out.
🍉 Ready-to-Eat: This store is packed with ready-to-eat food. If you’re craving sushi, sandwiches, pizza, meat platters, charcuterie, salads, or whatever it is, this place definitely has it. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something to eat while shopping at Irvine Spectrum.
🍉 Serve Yourself Poke: I had to give this its own section. Bristol Farms has a poke bar and allow customers to serve themselves. Everywhere else I’ve been, a staff controls the serving. I’m not sure how to feel- while it’s great you can serve yourself that particular cube of fish, people can be dirty. I’m not worried when it comes to the actual hot or salad bars. Sushi-grade fish exposed like that… I can’t. The poke bar is always popping, so people generally feel comfortable. You do you, boo.
🍉 Choices: The layout of the market makes it appear you have PLENTY of choices to choose from. If you want kombucha, you have at least 5 different brands to choose from. Once you decide on a brand, you have even more flavors as the next deciding factor. Are you looking for asparagus? They have white asparagus if you’re fancing for white plating. Just pair it with cauliflower, white potatoes, white mushrooms, turnip, and white corn.
🍉 Pricing: Product pricing is comparable to Whole Foods. All of the wines have about a $5-10 markup compared to Total Wine. The meats section is definitely $$$$. I’ve purchased ribeye steak for a lot less than $39.99 per pound. Part of me wants to say you’re also paying for the Irvine Spectrum convenience as well. This really goes in line with your budget. If you have the money, power to you.
🍉 Parking: Since this is located in Irvine Spectrum, parking could be an easy hit or miss. The parking structure next to the theater can get congested. It’s better to opt for a different parking structure or outdoor parking.
my thoughtful journey
I always have to reiterate that my blog reflects my honest thoughts. I usually bring a reusable Lululemon bag because I’m not a fan of paying 10 cents for a bag. I might have looked suspicious shooting content and putting products into the bag (because carrying a shopping basket is gross). The security guard did not let me go out of his sight. The joke I made internally was that I was also carrying a $3,000 Louis Vuitton bag, I should definitely be able to afford whatever it is at this store. There have been a lot of crimes happening in California where people are STEALING left and right. The community manager did reach out and wanted to make things right. I’d still come back, just not out of my way.
I was amazed at the fact that they had individually wrapped nigiri. I haven’t seen this since my last visit to Tokyo Central. I also bought ground sumac for my middle eastern dishes. I didn’t realize the flavor boost it provides when you sprinkle some over rice.
When it comes to these bougie or out-of-the-norm Southern California markets, I would rank Erewhon first, Whole Foods second, and Bristol Farms third. I still need to check out Gelson’s, but I’m anticipating that being a fourth.