When I visited around noon on a recent weekday, I had no trouble finding a spot in the parking lot. Shoppers were trickling into the market, but it wasn’t crowded. Most of the lunch action is on the left side of the shop, where there’s a soup station ($6.49 for a cup, $8.99 for a bowl, $12.99 for a quart) offering an assortment that included chicken noodle, curry peanut and carrot ginger when I visited.
Behind the soup station and a bit to the right sits a full deli case with meats to be sliced, as well as sandwiches, including ham and Swiss in a croissant ($6.99) and albacore tuna melt ($8.99). The deli also features proteins like thick slices of Mediterranean turkey breast ($18.99 per pound) and flat-iron steak with chimichurri ($21.99 per pound), as well as sides, including mashed potatoes ($9.99 per pound), smoked mozzarella pasta salad ($11.99 per pound), roasted Brussels sprouts ($11.99 per pound) and broccoli chopped salad with lemon herb dressing ($11.99 per pound). Food can be heated by New Seasons employees at the deli case or by customers in the microwave in the dining area.
A hot bar, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., starts the day serving eggs and breakfast meats and then switches to lunch and dinner dishes, like Peruvian chicken, mac and cheese, roasted carrots, chicken teriyaki, crispy potato wedges and stuffed shells. Large pizzas with a variety of toppings sold by the slice ($4.50 per slice, two slices for $8) are next to the hot bar. Nearby is a full salad bar, as well as an olive bar ($10.99 per pound), cheese section and bread case with housemade loaves as well as ones from notable bakeries like Dos Hermanos and Oyatsupan. A refrigerator case brims with grab-and-go sandwiches like curry chicken ($7.99) and turkey and havarti ($7.99), salads like coastal kale ($9.99 per pound), as well as an array of sushi from Portland-based purveyor Origami.
Sweets lovers will salivate over the pastry case. Slices of cake — including triple chocolate ($6.99), pumpkin gingersnap cheesecake ($4.99), and a vanilla cake with sprinkles called confetti cake ($6.99) — sit near the main glass display filled with whole cakes, fruit tarts and pastries. A variety of cookies like pumpkin-spice snickerdoodle and chocolate rugelach fill the cookie bar near the front of the store ($13.99 per pound).
In short, the downtown New Seasons Market offers all the same bells and whistles as the east Vancouver store but in a smaller space. I recommend walking through the entire store the first time you visit to get the lay of the land. I visited several times for this story because there are so many lunch options. I tried an albacore tuna melt ($8.99), a small chopped broccoli salad with lemon herb dressing ($3.96), a small coastal kale salad ($1.65), a cup of cheddar broccoli soup ($6.49), and a salad from the salad bar ($7.31). They were all delicious.
Nonetheless, I plan on regularly buying cups of soup like Greek lemon chicken, split pea and chicken gnocchi ($7) for lunch at OMW Market just up the street (207 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver). I’ve never been one to abandon a trusty friend for the hot new thing. Also, I’m guessing that as word gets out that the downtown New Seasons Market is open, its lunch business will steadily grow. On days that I don’t feel like navigating a crowd, I’ll be at OMW Market, eating soup in its small dining area while grabbing prepared foods, groceries and Olympia Provisions salami.