After a recent dim sum outing with my Mom, we went for a short drive on the Dearborn side of the ID. With a quick throwaway comment, she said, ‘there is a really great cheese shop right around the corner from here.’ What? Seeing as how I never heard about this, I was a bit surprised by her comment and had to check it out. Besides, we were in a weird part of SoDo that’s very industrial. How could there be a gourmet food store here? Low and behold there it was, Big John’s PFI.
Off of 6th and Airport Way lies Big John’s PFI. In an unassuming brick building; you wouldn’t see this treasured gem but for it’s red, white, and green awning. To say this place is hidden would be an understatement. Intrigued and curious about how my mother knew about this place and I didn’t, we looked forward to what Big John’s PFI had in store for us.
We were blown away. As soon as you walk in you’ll notice a massive cheese case to your right. About 30 feet of goat, sheep, and cow’s milk bliss of cheese and all different types. Looking left you’ll see big five-gallon jugs of bulk goods. And this isn’t just crappy trail mix in bulk like other grocery stores. Big John’s has the good stuff; emmer, roasted fava beans, dried spices, a load of different types of rice, oats, and bunch more. At dirt cheap prices. I was in food retail heaven and I wasn’t even 10 ft. into the store. I couldn’t control my excitement.
The decor of the place is kind of an antithesis to Whole Foods gloss; concrete floors, fluorescent lights, and haphazardly arranged aisles. But the whole of the place is charming. The staff is super helpful and available, and the selection of foodstuff throughout the shop is off the charts excellent. This is where Big John’s PFI really shines; their products are diverse, which gets your culinary curiosity going. A lot of the products are super hard to find elsewhere. Much of their line leans heavily on Mediterranean products. With an entire aisle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, what’s not to love? Their wall of pasta has a great assortment of shapes and at great prices. And there is an aisle of just jam! If anything, go to Big John’s PFI for the bulk foods, but definitely stay to look at the random grocery items.
I’m so thankful that my Mom introduced me to this culinary treat in Seattle. I would have never known about Big John’s PFI otherwise. It is a family-owned shop that is hidden and without advertisment, but they’ve been around for almost 40 years. Surely, places like this have helped to shape the food scene of Seattle and I’m anxiously awaiting my return visit.