Reliable Market: Everything Asian in Somerville
We read about this place in a local guidebook, and as that book pointed out, you expect something quite different from the reality when you see the sign ‘Reliable Market’. Inside, this is a huge Asian market, with the emphasis on all things Korean and Japanese. We were like children released into a toy store at Christmas, examining all the exotic, sometimes unidentifiable, items on display. They stock everything you might expect, but even something as apparently simple as soy sauce comes in a bewildering variety of styles, sizes and brands in this store. They have a large selection of sakes, but we were especially drawn to the unusual vegetables, the seafood (their fish is extremely good, and sliced specifically for use in foods such as sushi and sashimi) and the Japanese prepared meals with cartoon-style directions on the back.
Ball Square Fine Wines & Liquor: Support Your Local Liquor Store
This is a great neighborhood liquor store that has made a real effort to find out what is of interest to customers, and which has regular Friday evening tasting events that occasionally feature the winemakers themselves! They also have beer tastings, and we've noticed that over the past year their beer selection has expanded quite substantially, with craft brews from around the US and beyond now taking up a substantial portion of their space (Bud and co. are in a dark, awkward corner!).
What to buy: In addition to a wide selection of beer, we hear that this is the place to come if you have an interest in Greek wine - the proprietors are of Greek origin - and they also have some excellent cheese selections. Our impression is that the craft beer is especially well-priced in comparison to other specialty stores.