Going to Market in Miami

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There was a time when grocery shoppers only had two options around Miami or anywhere else from the Florida Keys to Palm Beach: Publix and Winn Dixie.

South Florida as gotten more sophisticated in the past few years, making it more desirable to the big chains. Now almost every area of Miami-Dade County has a handful of markets that target the choosier customer: foodies, organic food shoppers and ethnic communities.

It's a food lovers paradise. Just check out Miami Beach -- or merely South Beach (For those who don't know, South Beach is the southern tip of Miami Beach, just 23 blocks from the southern tip of the island to 23rd Street. It's where all the clubs and fancy hotels are.)

On South Beach, there are three Publix (yes three) Supermarkets, a Whole Foods, Epicure Market (a gourmet food store that's been around for 65 years) and countless bodegas, natural food shops and convenience stores.

Just last year, Publix opened one of its specialized stores featuring Greenwise or organic products. The store aims to take bite out of the popularity of stores like Whole Foods, which sells organic products and items that are environmentally friendly. It also features a few extras like a Chinese food counter, where people can order a dish and wait for their take out - much like Whole Foods.

Coming soon: The Fresh Market, a chain of specialty based in North Carolina with a butcher shop, fish market, bakery, produce and floral stands, and delicatessen. The 22,000-square-foot store will be on West Avenue, around the corner from another beach Publix. It will feature a 133-space parking garage (yay!) and a 20-seat outdoor cafe facing 18th Street.

Just when the store will make its grand entrance into the South Beach market is still unknown. Construction has yet to begin.

The market rush is visible in other parts of greater Miami too.

Brickell: This Miami neighborhood has three Publix Supermarkets within a few blocks of each other. Epicure planned a store in the area in one of the new high rise condos but pulled out in 2009 when the real estate market tanked.

Coconut Grove
: Another Miami neighborhood with a The Fresh Market, a new and improved Milam's Market, a small chain of supermarkets in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and Gardner's Market, a small chain of gourmet stores in the southern part of Miami-Dade County.

Coral Gables: Just south of Miami, the Gables is home to Whole Foods, Publix (several but the Gables is pretty big spanning both sides of U.S. 1), Graziano's (an Argentine butcher and grocery), La Estancia (another Argentine specialty food store) and Gardner's.

Aventura: North of Miami, this upscale city features the same selection of markets as Coral Gables except for Gardner's.

Other Notable Markets:
Sedano's: A chain of nearly 30 supermarkets in greater Miami that caters to the Hispanic community.
Laurenzo's Market: An Italian market in North Miami
Presidente Supermarket: A Miami chain of 19 supermarkets that caters to the Hispanic community.
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