When we first learned that Trader Joe's was coming to the Jacksonville area, I wrote how unimpressed I was with my visit to a Trader Joe's in Chicago.
But with the new store opening right in my neighborhood, of course I had to visit as it opened up today.
And...I'm still completely underwhelmed by Trader Joe's.
I kind of expect a specialty grocer like this to have an interesting selection of gluten-free products, but Trader Joe's doesn't even compare to the great selection I found at the new Earth Fare store. Actually, it doesn't even compare to what you can find at Publix. Or even Walmart.
I wasn't about to stand in the long lines today and buy anything and it was difficult to get around through the crowds, but I tried to examine every shelf. I noticed three Trader Joe's-brand gluten-free products: frozen mac and cheese, frozen pancakes and Oreo-like cookies.
I've read somewhere about a Trader Joe's frozen gluten-free pizza but while the Jacksonville Beach store had plenty of Trader Joe's pizzas in the freezer case, I didn't see any gluten-free varieties.
The bread aisle is particularly disappointing. They have Udi's breads and bagels. I can buy those anywhere.
I visited the Chicago store because it is near the hotel I usually stay in there and I was hoping to find something for breakfast like gluten-free muffins or breakfast bars, but there weren't any. There aren't any in Jacksonville Beach either.
At least I got something out of my visit today. They were giving out free wine samples.
If you haven't been to Earth Fare, it's worth the trip, even if you don't live in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for Trader Joe's.