“Our father and grandfather have been in the wholesale and retail produce business, and that type of store was a natural for us,” Isaac Nava says, referring to the market and deli he opened with his brother Moishe in 2010. The third establishment to bear the Nava name, it supplies first and second spots—both homestyle Mexican restaurants—with fresh fruits and veggies, meat, and dairy products. Customers will also find plenty of household goods lining the grocery store’s aisles. And at the deli counter, a sprawling menu details sandwiches made with salami, roast beef, and turkey, as well as wraps, salads, and freshly blended smoothies that constantly battle with daily soups over the control of cups, bowls, and curved hands.
So established is Circle K Midwest that even brand-new vehicles recognize what its red-and-white logo stands for—fuel, snacks, and everything else a car might need to keep powering down the road with its driver. Circle K's story starts back in 1951, when Fred Hervey bought three Kay's Food Stores in El Paso, Texas. Under his guidance, these three little shops grew into the more than 3,000 convenience stores that crouch on our nation's street corners today.
After rolling up to a Circle K, drivers can pump their faithful roadsters full of high-octane fuel and send them skipping through a car wash to experience the cleansing touch of Blue Coral Beyond Green and Rain-X products. Then it's time to step inside the air-conditioned shop for a peek at the provisions. Rows of sodas hibernate behind glass doors, and snacks, candy, and their ATM guardians stand boldly out in the open. Some Circle Ks also offer the Take Away Fresh Café, which presents an appetizing lineup of healthy road fare including sandwiches, fruit cups, and fresh-cut vegetables. Drivers can gear up for a long drive with premium coffees or enjoy a cold Polar Pop, whose specially formulated cup keeps drinks colder thanks to the family of tiny snowmen trapped in its foam walls.
Growing up, Barron Perl and his six brothers spent a lot of time helping out with their family’s sausage manufacturing company. Barron expanded the Perls’ meat-making legacy years later when he opened Deli Direct, a gourmet food distributor specializing in smoked meat and natural Wisconsin cheese. In addition to handcrafted sausages and blocks of cheese, the store also specializes in tangy mustards, gluten-free party dips, and tasty horseradish products—including spicy pickles by the gallon. For the perfect gift, the staff assembles wicker baskets that overflow with edible treats, and you can assemble your own smorgasbord at Deli Direct’s outlet store.
The artful bakers at Upper Crust Bagels craft more than 15 varieties of kettle-boiled New York–style bagels fresh daily. The dough wizards work through the night to forge the circular comestibles, deftly mixing, shaping, and punching out their centers to ensure that they rise from their nocturnal slumber. Esurient shoppers can construct a baker’s dozen of flavor halos, populating their assembly with savory and sweet denizens such as sundried tomato, pumpernickel, and chocolate chip, along with a plain bagel for frills-free palates. Once a phalanx of 13 disks has been bagged up, nibblers appoint one of Upper Crust’s freshly whipped cream cheeses to the role of bagel haberdasher, cloaking floury plains with rich layers of spreads such as light lox spread or cheddar cheese.
Fresh Farms International Market showers its shoppers in grocered greatness, including organic produce, fresh meats and seafood, imported cheeses, and international breads. Tread toward the counter of fresh-caught seafood and reel in one of the market’s aquatic edibles, such as wild octopus ($2.99/lb.), fresh flounder fillets ($9.99/lb.), or live lobster ($7.99/lb.). Protein pilgrims can set sail for the meat department, which can help them build a new society based on hand-cut steaks, smoked ham shank ($1.49/lb.), and young duckling ($2.49/lb.). Cheerful cheesemongers cater to customers’ fancies for foreign fromage, including selections from cheese-making nations such as Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, and Russia. Sink lactose-longing teeth into a Bulgarian feta ($2.99/lb.) or a block of Mountain Brand Swiss cheese ($3.99/lb.) whose neutrality is betrayed by its clear preference for deliciousness. The market’s fresh produce includes California broccoli ($0.79/lb.) and Wisconsin dry yellow onions ($0.19/lb.), and its bustling bakery churns out French baguettes and Italian ciabatta rolls ready to be transformed into sandwiches or whittled into Earl of Sandwich action figures.
Diamond Fresh Seafood Market & Cafe is a gathering place for fresh-caught seafood from the far reaches of the world's oceans. As daily hauls of imported and domestically snagged premium seafood arrive, the knowledgeable staff doles out creative café-style meals that include shrimp alfredo and hearty salmon burgers. Customers who prefer to cart home their catches pick up home cooking tips at cooking demonstrations by pro seafood chef Carol Mackey, who reveals the culinary secrets behind potato-encrusted sea bass and other recipes. At the monthly demos, attendees can also bring their own spirits to sip during the presentation and the resident singing trout's lounge act that follows.