Marx Foods, an online retailer of a large, eclectic collection of specialty foods, has opened its first brick and mortar store in the Lower Queen Anne/Uptown neighborhood. Owner Justin Marx, recently profiled in Food & Wine, aims to serve as the “culinary concierge” for both Queen Anne residents and Seattle at large. The store will serve as a shop where you can get unique food and condiments, as well as advice, suggestions, and in-house tested recipes of how to best enjoy and make use of them. Some of the items offered, such as fine charcuterie, cheeses, balsamic vinegars, and olive oils will be familiar to most, but with some of the less common items, a knowledgeable staff and test kitchen are sure to come in handy.
I spoke with Justin Marx about the new retail venture, and asked him why he decided on Lower Queen Anne/Uptown – he said he hopes to bring something to Queen Anne that is unique to Seattle, something that doesn’t exist today… well, almost today, as Marx Foods opened its doors yesterday morning at the corner of Western and John Streets. (note: the signs are going up in the next couple of weeks, but it’s easy to find, as it’s directly across from the PI globe at 144 Western Ave with street parking available and free after 6pm)
Marx has run the online business from his Lower Queen Anne office for just shy of five years, all the while watching the neighborhood evolve with new housing developments, the Thomas St Pedestrian Bridge, and new and varied local vendors and restaurants. As the neighborhood evolved, he decided his business should too, and made the jump to a retail storefront. Marx finds the items he offers for sale by traveling the country, visiting farmer’s markets, and running culinary question marks by his tasting panel of local food bloggers and chefs to see if they pass muster. With only about 20% meeting the tasting panel’s standards, you should expect the items to be as good as they are unique. While the online store has over 1,200 items, the retail shop will have 300-400 products, but for the extraordinarily adventurous, special orders are welcomed and encouraged.
A liquor license is in the works and for summer, Marx is planning to offer ready-to-go picnics with items such as sliced charcuterie and cheese. Future events, some co-hosted with their neighbor Fat Cork, a boutique champagne purveyor, are also planned, so stay tuned for more as the new year ticks over.
So what will you find when you visit? They carry a range of game meats and birds; meats you see on menus but not in stores – boar, elk, pheasant, and even more unusual meats such as antelope and kangaroo. Other items include edible flowers, a wide variety of dried mushrooms and peppers, chili sauces, pastas, snacks both savory and sweet, and probably more than a few things you’ve not had the chance to try before.
I asked Marx to narrow down a list of his personal favorites – a tough task, but here are the essentials: Chicaogi Chipotle Chili Sauce, butternut squash seed oil, aged balsamic vinegars, Pistachio Cream, Denver Vegetable Leathers, Cocomels coconut milk caramels, Ramp Vinaigrette, and local marshmallows that are cup-size – perfect for hot cocoa.
If you’re looking for specialty food items, gifts, and treats that you can’t find anywhere else, stop by Marx Foods and welcome them to the neighborhood!