What's Good At Trader Joe's?

Nathan Rodgers, of the review site What's Good At Trader Joe's, gives his top five product picks in five categories.


What's Good at Trader Joe's? Devotees of the popular chain might respond with, "Everything!" Since last August, one blog has taken the question as its name and mission: to systematically review every product. It isn't the only Trader Joe's review site. As Nathan explained, "We noticed there were some other webpages rating Trader Joe's products, but many hadn't been updated in a long time. Most of them weren't very in-depth, and they were boring to read. The most popular site that rates Trader Joe's foods is Trader Joe's Fan, but they focus more on recipes and cooking."

Since starting What's Good At Trader Joe's in August Nathan Rodgers, his wife Sonia, and their friend Russ Shelly, have reviewed about 75 products in more than 60 blog entries. While the reviewers are fans of Trader Joe's, they take reviewing seriously — their first review was even negative. They rate products on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the best. For any post, two people rate the product, giving their overall impression and up to five points each.

So, after six months of reviewing Trader Joe's products, what is good? "My all-time favorite product is probably the strawberry kiwi juice," Nathan said. "I am a sweet beverage fiend. And Russ, the snack expert, likes the peanut brittle best of all." As for their least favorite products, Nathan noted that "Russ was most disappointed with the whole grain hard pretzel sticks. My least favorite product was the no-tomato chicken lasagna."

Here are the site's the top five picks for Trader Joe's products in five categories — beverages, desserts, sauces and soups, international entrées, and snacks — with explanations for their top picks.

 

Beverages:

1. Trader Joe's Strawberry Kiwi Juice (10 points): "This beverage lets the natural flavors of both the kiwi and the strawberry through. The taste is complex enough for an adult to enjoy, but it's sweet enough for a Kool-Aid-craving kid."

2. Trader Joe's Pomegranate Limeade (10 points)

3. Trader Joe's Pear Cinnamon Cider (9 points)

4. Trader Joe's Pomegranate Green Tea (8.5 points)

5. Trader Joe's Organic Strawberry Lemonade (8.5 points)

 

Desserts:

1. Trader Joe's Peach and Blueberry Panna Cotta (9 points): "Trader Joe's managed to mass-produce a frozen version of a classic Italian dessert that's served in five-star restaurants, and very little is lost in their adapted version."

2. Trader Joe's Old-Fashioned Donut O's (9 points)

3. Trader Joe's Caribbean Fruit Floes (9 points)

4. Trader Joe's Mini Eclairs (8 points)

5. Joe-Joe's n' Cream Flavored Ice Cream (8 points)

 

Sauces and Soups:

1. Trader Joe's Organic Tomato Bisque (10 points): "Most of Trader Joe's sauces and soups do a good job of meeting or exceeding the quality of comparable products from other brands, but the flavor and consistency of their tomato bisque beats that of any tomato soup I've ever had, hands down."

2. Trader Ming's General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce (9.5 points)

3. Trader Jose's Chunky Salsa (9.5 points)

4. Trader Joe's Vegetarian Chili (8.5 points)

5. Trader Joe's Jalapeño Pepper Hot Sauce (8 points)

 

International Entreés:

1. Trader Ming's Mandarin Orange Chicken (9.5 points): "Orange chicken is the quintessential Chinese dish. Trader Ming's version not only beats other frozen varieties, but it rivals what they serve in many sit-down Asian restaurants."

2. Trader Joe's Chicken Tikka Masala (9.5 points)

3. Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo (9.5 points)

4. Trader Joe's Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons (9 points)

5. Trader Ming's Chicken Shu Mai (8.5 points)

 

Snacks:

1. Trader Joe's Peanut Brittle (10 points): "Again, Trader Joe's not only met expectations by offering their own version of a product, but they gave us a natural peanut brittle at a reasonable price, with a texture and taste that's actually an improvement over other brands."

2. Trader Joe's Baked Jalapeño Cheese Crunchies (8
points)

3. Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snack (8 points)

4. Trader Joe's Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks (8 points)

5. Trader Jose's Super Seeded Tortilla Chips (8 points)


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143 Comments

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I love Trader Joe's. Their prices are great, and the staff goes out of their way to be helpful and courteous. Lots of great items to choose from. I go there about once every two weeks to stock up on my family's favorites. My one peeve is that many of our favorites get discontinued!

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In Milwaukee, Pick n Save, the local grocery chain is a zoo. Trader Joe is a much better shopping experience, as is Whole Foods.

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Trader Joes in Milwaukee has become my number one food source. I love the baquettes and the hummus and olive tapinade. We now drink Gerolsteiner's mineral water and hardly any wine. I keep finding new things to try and we were only disappointed in one item and I don't even remember what it was. Coffee selection is great, cheese variety excellent. Marinara far better than any other (even home made). It is a pleasure to shop at TJ - it is fun and upbeat and the employees are great. Three cheers for Milwaukee Trader Joes!

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Don't forget about the chocolate covered peanut butter stuffed pretzels. We make trips to TJ's just for them.

joanne's picture

We also LOVE TJ's, we have one in Portland ME.. Very crowded at first, parking a nightmare but it seems to have calmed. It was Holiday season when it opened. We love, love, love TJ's peanut butter, Jasmine brown rice, white bean hummus, 3 layer hummus. Cheeses are a great price, along with all the other staples. We love TJ's coffee, frozen fruits, veggies. I don't usually buy Organic, but I can afford it there.We love the bagels. If it happens to be a name brand and not TJ's brand it is still usually cheaper at Joe's. Especially organics. We also have never had a bad experience shopping, the employees are always very happy and pleasant. Especially the checkout. I love the way they run the checkout.I also love the red fabric shopping bags. I keep one folded in my pocketbook all the time. Use it for a number of things, including luggage. Thanks Trader Joe's.

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Licorice Scottie Dogs - favorite candy. Chicken pesto wrap - fav lunch. Green tea mochi - fav dessert. Salmon with mint pesto and orzo rice - fav dinner. Also love the TJ organic probiotic yogurt - in non-plastic containers made from plants. Also love TJ's Greek yogurt. Organic frozen blueberries - small ones - good. No nitrate ham. Oh heck, I love just about everything @ TJ's!! :-)

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I love, love, love TJ's mandarin orange chicken as well as the vegetable egg rolls. While I am not a big fish fan, I really enjoy TJ's breaded Alaskan cod fillets. Excellent.

I do not understand those who say that TJ's is overpriced. Totally not true. And, in the four different TJ stores that I have been to, not once I have encountered a rude employee.

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I AM NOT ALONE!

Your number one desert PANNA COTTA is my latest favorite DISCONTINUED PRODUCT! There are so many, the discontinued favs outnumber the products I buy these days. Seriously, I am only going for the liquor store!

GET IT TOGETHER JOE! Where's my rolled chicken tacos? My hollandaise sauce? The world's richest barbeque sauce?

SADNESS. LIQUOR! NEVER DISCONTINUE THE VILLA CERINA MONTEPULCIANO!

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We love TJ's and hope that they consider opening a store in Naples, Florida. Bananas and bag salad is less than any where else. The Olive Oil Popcorn is a great snack. The 100-calorie chocolate bars are good but the peanut butter cups are the best. I am usually there twice a week when I am in PA for the summer but we need one in Naples, FL for the winter.

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Another vote for opening a TJ's in Naples, FL

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I LOVE Trader Joe's and have missed it terribly since I moved from California ten years ago. I wish wish wish TJ would build a store in Denver, Colorado!!!!!!! PLEEEEEEAAAAASE!!!!!!

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I'm eating the Molasses Chews from Trader Joe's right now, big soft cookies like my grandma used to make. We love the Cat Cookies (for people) in all three flavors (cat-shaped, crunchy low-fat cookies in vanilla, chocolate and ginger), the three-cheese frozen pizzas, Valrhona chocolate bars, refrigerated section's polenta lasagna, blister peanuts...I could go on and on. It takes a while to "get" Trader Joe's and try new stuff, but once you do, it's great. I saw a complaint about moldy bread and strawberries, but I haven't experienced that -- I see the workers changing out the produce and bread daily.

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Wow, your Trader Joe's has molasses chews?! *envy* They have been discontinued here at our store in Virginia. I used to dip them in Trader Joe's Lemon Curd. So good! The sweet and chewy contrasted with the creamy tart from the lemon curd, total foodgasm. Must petition our TJs to bring them back if they are available at other locations!

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Its the Veggie Chilie Rellanos that are the VERY BEST!!!!!! OMG, if you haven't tried them, you haven't even begun to experience the best that TJ's offer! Also - ALWAYS try the freebie tastes in the back of the store! I personally LOVE the roasted garlic salsa and blue chips! Yummy! Not a fan of 2 buck chuck, but that because we live in wine country!

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I love Trader Joe's! The staff is always courteous, their food definitely above the ordinary. They are the only grocery brand where I believe the brand has true value in terms of delivering consistently high quality without high price. My entire community has been begging and wishing a Trader Joe's would open in Leesburg, VA....please, please open near us! Per the nay sayers...some folks never appreciate quality, never acknowledge kindness, and some folks you simply can't satisfy. Trader Joe's seems to cater to those who have an appreciation for zest in life, without being overly indulgent. Please keep it up...you've been doing a great job.

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I love Trader Joe's! The staff is always courteous, their food definitely above the ordinary. They are the only grocery brand where I believe the brand has true value in terms of delivering consistently high quality without high price. My entire community has been begging and wishing a Trader Joe's would open in Leesburg, VA....please, please open near us! Per the nay sayers...some folks never appreciate quality, never acknowledge kindness, and some folks you simply can't satisfy. Trader Joe's seems to cater to those who have an appreciation for zest in life, without being overly indulgent. Please keep it up...you've been doing a great job.

tdm-35-icon.png

I love Trader Joe's! The staff is always courteous, their food definitely above the ordinary. They are the only grocery brand where I believe the brand has true value in terms of delivering consistently high quality without high price. My entire community has been begging and wishing a Trader Joe's would open in Leesburg, VA....please, please open near us! Per the nay sayers...some folks never appreciate quality, never acknowledge kindness, and some folks you simply can't satisfy. Trader Joe's seems to cater to those who have an appreciation for zest in life, without being overly indulgent. Please keep it up...you've been doing a great job.

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I adore TJ's. The only problem is that their parking lots are so congested except in Granada Hills, CA. Who said they are over-priced. I never buy pasta made in the U.S. because the quality is so bad. I can get a pound of pasta from Italy for only 99 cents. Think Thin protein bars are only $1.69 in comparison to protein bars in other stores. I even enjoy Charles Shaw merlot and especially the price. Their frozen fish is wild and again the price is good. I have gone to many stores and the personnel are helpful and friendly.

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...the asparagus rissotto is something I buy every time I go to TJ's. Also the chocolate-covered almonds - not Fauchon, but then nothing is like Fauchon. But TJ's are darn good. And their produce usually beats even the Byerly's in my community. The frozen berries mix is terrific, too. Amd if you really want baby peas, try TJ's. Oh, and don't forget the Italian grapefruit soda. Worth a twist of the index finger into the cheek. Oh, please bring back the cappuchino flavored merengue candies!

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We love Trader Joes'. We live in San Diego, and we buy there coffee. NEW MEXICO PINON COFFEE. Its better than starbucks. and a whole lot cheaper.

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Trader Joe's is an overpriced, overhyped specialty store. You can get similar products elsewhere that are far healthier and cheaper. Almost none of their stuff is truly healthy or organic.

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Trader Joe's is overpriced?! I've never saved more on groceries, and the overall quality of everything is amazing. I'd love to know where these "elsewhere" stores are that are healthier AND cheaper. I guess I don't appreciate "truly organic" foods much anymore, as you could grow something in pure cow poop and die painfully of E. Coli at the cost of avoiding spooky chemicals (re:Odwalla Fruit Juices). Penn & Teller did a great a very interesting episode of Bull@#$% on the organic foods debate.

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Never been to a Trader Joe's ! Heard about the 2 Buck Chuck and it's history. Now I really want to goto TL's . it would be great if they had one were I am in Berkshire County, Ma.
MAYBE!!???

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Pumpernickel Pretzels and Garlic Aoli Mustard.....

Sooooo Good!

Grosse Pointe, MI store is great and they validate in the garage!

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The worlds largest Greek stuffed olives are superb and priced very well.
I also like the pineapple chunks in juice cans.
Please don't tell anyone else about this…but the Irish Breakfast Tea bags, 80 bags for 2.99, are priceless. Fine Indian Assam tea flavor that gives me 80 days of 2 cups of tea for 3¢ a pot, 1.5¢ a cup! And my cup holds 12 ounces of tea!

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Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Cherries. Absolutely fabulous little nuggets of mouth-watering goodness.

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I can't live without their Kettle Brewed Tea. It is absolutely the best iced tea anywhere. Other must haves are Mediterranean Hummus, Frozen Mac & Cheese, Greek Yogurt, Joe's O's cereal, 1/2 salt roasted almonds, Peanut butter, Nurenburg Bratwurst (only ones that compare to the ones I remember eating in Nurenburg), Frozen Steel Cut Oatmeal, Chicken Marsala w/mashed potatos, New Zealand Cheddar, Blue Cheese & roasted pecan spread (too die for!), Pear & Gorgonzola Salad.
Please bring back the Bean Chips you used to have. They were awesome! Also for 2 Holiday seasons TJ's had these wonderful, authentic Biscotti Cookies (made by Trader Giotto) in a gold box. I would have bought tons if I had known they were going to not come back!

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My favorite was frozen Mushroom Risotto and bottled, carbonated wine-like drink - I think it was called Ame (accent on the e). I served it at my day spa. That product disappeared from Santa Barbara area back in 2004 or 2005.
Many years ago, I loved their granola, trail mix and jasmine rice.
Since I moved to Idaho in 2006, I've missed TJ's

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Amé is stocked by the supermarket Waitrose here in the UK.

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Chocolate Dipped Biscotti - They are THE best! Crunchy, not too overpowered by almond paste, and they are reasonably priced. DELICIOUS AND A DEAL!

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