Time to stock up you pantry and fridge?
Where to shop in Odesa for groceries and sundries depends on basically two things, your budget, and where you're located. If you're lucky enough to live in a "klasni rayon" (nice area), you will of course have more options, more stores with western imported goods and higher quality to go with the higher prices. If you've settled in a working-class district, then you'll need to shop where you are, unless you're up for driving or taking public transport to your destination of choice.
The retail grocery market is rather mature in Odesa, In the 1930s in Odesa, there were three markets: Old, New, and Greek. The world-famous Pryvoz was only a small part of the Old Market. It was called Pryvoz, because the merchants gathered on that square and traded directly from their hands or from the carts, to be more precise.
Officially, the history of Pryvoz began in 1827. It was the time when the first covered building was built on that square. It was much more convenient, so very soon the indoor market in Ukraine became more popular than others. And while it is still popular today, for many, it is more convenient to shop quickly in their own neighborhoods, and with such an array of shops to choose from, you'll be spoiled for choice.
To help you find out where to go, here is our honest perspective, based on several years of living here, with a few of those years spent running a Mexican cafe, and trying to hunt down cilantro (kinza) all the time, which took us to almost all of them!
We will start with our favorite, which has to be Silpo, a national chain with locations all over Odesa. Silpo stores run the gamut of quality, from their fancy-schmancy Le Silpo in the Arcadia district to their basic shops on the ground floors of communist-era apartment blocks.
We like Silpo because they're always running promotions, have great produce, meat, and seafood selections, are affordably priced, and have a bonus program that returns a percentage of your spending back every quarter.
The stores vary in quality based upon their location, in malls like Gagarinn Plaza, City Center, Fontan Sky, and Ostrov near the train station (as well as many others, the malls have upper-quality stores) while in areas of high traffic near transport junctions, there are more pedestrian shops, smaller in nature, less luxury, but still great quality. Silpo also delivers, via an app or on their online shop https://shop.silpo.ua.
They are part of the Fozzy Group, a group of companies that owns and manages retail stores in Ukraine. Based in Kyiv, it is Ukraine's largest supermarket company and food retail group. As such, they have a HUGE Hypermarket in Odesa at Balkivs'ka Street 88, where you can also shop online www.fozzyshop.ua.
Tavria-V (Таврія В)
A close run up to Silpo is Tavria-V. Named after Tavria, a subregion of Southern Ukraine that encompasses the steppe territories between the Dnieper and Molochna rivers and the Crimean peninsula, "Tavria" is a chain of 119 shopping centers in parts of Ukraine, catering to urban dwellers with average and above average incomes. The shops offer a variety of products for both higher-income and lower-income clients. Some stores are huge warren-like complexes like the ones at Vuzovsky mall, Marshala Hovorova Street (Govorova), and the basement of Athena Gallery, while others are more basic. One of our favorites is the one they recently opened in the Old Flower market near Soborna Square:
As far as value for money, they are a place to get what you need while saving on your monthly grocery bill for the basics, but as far as the niceties in life, the selection could be a bit better. Still, we regularly go, as they're just so convenient. They give you bonuses via a card or your phone number, you can save them up and use them as cash on any transaction, anytime. You can download their app, or order home delivery online at their website.
They also host the Tavria V Odesa Half Marathon every year, which is a big event. In the Arcadia area they have a luxury outlet called "Cosmos" in the Sady Pobedy Shopping Mall which has a FANTASTIC selection of imported goods and exotic produce.
Another upscale group of stores is Santim, with five stores in Odesa. Celebrating 11 years, they pride themselves on a fine selection of groceries and consumables, and their cheese selection is awesome, almost as good as their alcohol section. Fresh produce and bakery, locally sourced where possible, you will find the prices as Santim are a value for the quality offered. The Odessa Journal did a nice writeup on them, should you want to check it out. They have a loyalty program that earns you one kopek from every hryvnia paid and can be used as payment for the next purchase, except for tobacco products and promotionally priced products. You can order home delivery on the website, your groceries will be delivered by Bond Taxis.
EURO CHAIN STORES
For some time, in the Fontanka area at the Riviera Shopping Center, there was a HUGE Ashan store operating, but it is temporarily closed because it was blown up by a Russian missile one night. Also, the German retailer Lidl announced in 2021 that they were going to "aggressively" open many stores throughout Ukraine, including in Odesa, but seem to have put those plans on hold due to the war. There is, however, Metro!
Metro Cash & Carry Ukraine
METRO Group, one of the largest retail companies worldwide, has three locations scattered in various corners of the outskirts of Odesa. When we were running our restaurants, every week we would "head to Metro", which are huge warehouse-sized stores with food and nonfood products, sold only for legal entities and private entrepreneurs, which means you will need to sign up for a membership card to enter the store and checkout at the register. Not a high hurdle, if you like to buy in bulk and save money, Metro is a great option, and with a range of goods numbering in the tens of thousands to choose from, you can find everything you need here. They also deliver!
VALUE FOR MONEY
If you're really keen on living within your budget, then the ATB stores are the place to get a great selection and the low prices. ATB is the largest national network of retail shops and is considered a "discount retailer". The stores tend to not be located in high-rent neighborhoods, they are typically off the main streets in family neighborhoods.
We really like shopping in ATBs, even though their produce selections are not the most exciting, the prices on everyday items make up for it, and they have a lot of European goods. They don't deliver, but they have an online app, and they don't have a loyalty card, but you can get an ATB branded Visa card that saves you an additional 5% on your purchases.
Face it, sometimes it is late and you just need a liter of milk, a bag of chips, or some beers. Then you're gonna be more than happy to pop into the nearest Kopeyka (which means 1 Kopek, as in the lowest value coin). They have all the basics you will need, nothing too fancy except in the booze and confections sections. They are a regional chain, so it's a great place to find Odesa regionally-made goods.
Depending on the shop you visit, it could be one of the nice newer clean ones or one that looks like an old Soviet store on the ground floor of an apartment block. They even have large supermarkets over 1000 sq. meters! At all of them, you will find great low prices and a reasonable selection.
The produce sections tend to be lacking for our tastes, and service can be somewhat hit and miss, but as we said, if you need basics late at night, most of their supermarkets are open 24/7. If you're looking to save a kopek, Kopeyka has the best prices, and you can order groceries online. They deliver using the Glovo courier network. They have a loyalty program, that works in the same way as Tavria V, and you can also download an app in the app stores.
A fun name, in Russian "Обжора" means "glutton", and with the wide range of goods they offer at very affordable prices, you can really pig out here! Obzhora was one of the first large supermarket chains in Odesa, with their first store opened in 1995 on Grecheska Square and by the end of 2019, the chain had 21 stores in the Odesa region.
Since then, they have not deviated from the main principles of their work: quality products in a wide assortment with fair prices. We're fond of their deli selection, and the fact that their stores are very consistent in cleanliness and quality. While technically a budget store, Obzhora has many advantages, a rich assortment of high-quality products and the beverages and confectionery products stand out.
Undoubtedly, it is the convenience of locations - on central streets, near transport stops, and corner buildings, that make them ideal places to shop. They also have an online store, where you can order, with free delivery on orders over 500 UAH. You can also download their apps from the app stores.
Dva shaga (Два Шага - "Two Steps")
"Two Steps" is the first grocery we regularly shopped at after we married, because it was conveniently located near our first home. Established in 2010, Dva Shaga is one of the youngest companies in the retail market in the Odesa region. They have about 13 supermarkets working 24 hours in the "store near the house" concept (hence about two steps from your home), and offer a great selection of goods at affordable prices.
They have a wide range of quality products at reasonable prices and quality and lots of promotions. If you live near one, you will find their promotional newspaper in your mailbox regularly. One of their bigger shops is located right on the corner of the City Food Market, but keep in mind their smaller shops can be a bit crowded and you will therefore be monitored by security.
They have a loyalty program, to get the card though, you will first need to spend 500 UAH. They also deliver via the BOND DELIVERY app, but we can find no way to order online, so you will need to call your order in.
Gurman (Hurman in Ukrainian) is a no-frills 24-hour grocer with about a dozen locations in Odesa's central areas. The prices are reasonable, and the selection is not too bad either. Whenever you need something late at night, or just want to save money on your monthly grocery bill, Gurman is the place for you. No websites, no delivery, but most things you will need on your way home and don't want to trek to a big store for.
Universam is the same as saying "store" (Universal) and was the name you would find on grocers and quickie marts during the communist era. More than likely, you will have walked by one and thought they were a huge chain, but most of them are small mom-and-pop shops that offer their customers basic goods and foods with usually some deli and a big selection of beverages and tobacco products.
There are many old-school bazaars in Odesa, from 7Km to Pryvost, and all are great places to experience the spirit of the past when shopping for what you need, and you can even practice your haggling skills. There are so many, but we will name just a couple in detail here, and should you want to check them all out, take a 2-3 hour tour!
So we mentioned before the famous Pryvost market, which is worth a check out just for the experience, selection, AND prices. But there are other rynoks as well. In the past, there was the Old Rynok, known as Pryvost now, but there is also the "New Rynok" (Novy Rynok) one of the oldest markets in the city and a recognized architectural monument. Most importantly, here you can buy everything you need, from food to wine to home furniture.
The main buildings of the market, which have survived to this day, are large covered buildings, built in 1896 by the architect Arkady Dmitrievich Todorov. It was in the covered building of the New Bazaar that the first research institution in the Empire on viticulture and winemaking was located - a winemaking station, (created in 1905) headed by the famous Vasily Egorovich Tairov. Many writers wrote about the New Bazaar in their works, including Konstantin Paustovsky, Eduard Bagritsky, Yuri Olesha, and Volodymyr Sosiura. Here they found both daily bread for their bodies and food for creativity.
Cheromushky rynok (Рынок Черемушки)
Located off of Heneral Petrova Street.
Another fun bazaar for seafood, meats, dry goods and produce as well as numerous shops selling household goods, is the beloved "Cheromuski" market in the Malinovsky Raion. Built on what used to be cattle fields then military "shooting fields" back in the day, it because a popular area for produce after the war when the area was built up with many apartment districts, saving residents from the long trek to Pryvost in the center. Cheryomushki also has a weekend sidewalk market where people sell second-hand goods.
There are many rynoks like this in various neighborhoods of Odesa, serving the locals on budget items they need for daily living. The quality varies dramatically, so they are mainly for the adventurous expat or for those that live basically right next to one.
Another option for groceries, in the same manner, are the many neighborhood produce stands for all kinds of fresh produce in season, often farm fresh and of a higher quality than you'll find in the grocery stores, and the shops labeled "MACO" (meat) where you can get fresh cuts of all kinds of meats for your grilling and cooking needs, there are even many kosher and halal butchers as well.
So there you have it, a quick guide to help you fill your pantry and save money, Odesa really is a world-class city when it comes to shopping, there is something for every budget and taste!