America's Best Supermarkets 2016

America’s Best Supermarkets 2016

All supermarkets are not created equal. If there is one thing that appears on our "to do" list week after week it's grocery shopping, and while going to the store can feel tedious, it's an inevitability if you want to have food in the fridge come dinnertime. Choosing the right store for your needs means a more pleasant experience as you check off the box on this errand.

From hypermarkets that offer a one-stop shopping experience to the specialized organic food retailers, there are stores to suit everyone's needs, time-constraints, and dietary concerns. We asked readers to choose their favorite spots from a list of national and regional supermarket chains based on the stores' range, quality, and availability of products; cleanliness; and level of customer service.

This year, we asked once again that our readers rank the best supermarkets in America, and many votes later, we have compiled a list of the top 35 stores in the country. Read on to find out if your favorite store made the cut.

35. Lowes Foods

This family-owned Carolinas-based grocery store prides itself on providing fresh food and a unique shopping experience you won't find at other "big box" grocery chains. For over 60 years, this store has been working with local farmers and food purveyors to provide a "homegrown grocery store," which is why there's no surprise it made it onto our list at 35.

34. Balducci's

Balducci's is a specialty gourmet food retailer subsidiary of Kings Food Markets. The store — which caters toward high-end shoppers — uses the tagline, a "Food Lover's Market," and currently operates in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Virginia. 

33. Market Basket

Market Basket — or Demoulas Market Basket — first opened in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1917 and now operates 75 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. The family-owned company (that was once embroiled in a lawsuit over ownership) is known for its low prices, generous employee benefits, and good customer service.

32. WinCo Foods

WinCo Foods is an employee-owned grocery chain with 105 stores. The company, which was founded in 1967 in Boise by Ralph Ward and Bud Williams, quickly became known for its low prices and bare bones, warehouse-style appearance. The store changed its name from Waremart to WinCo in 1999 (except for one store that retains the original name), but maintains its reputation for low prices. Currently, WinCo Foods operates in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

31. Hannaford Brothers Company

Hannaford Brothers Company is one of oldest supermarkets on our list. Founded in 1883 in Portland, Maine, the company is currently headquartered in Scarborough, Maine. In 2000, the 177 stores operating in New England and upstate New York were purchased by the Delhaize Group. Hannaford stores are known for their wide array of store-brand label quality products and low prices.

30. Shaw's and Star Market

Shaw's and Star Market operate in five New England states including Maine, where George C. Shaw opened the original store that is now one of the oldest continuously operated supermarkets in the United States. According the company's website, "All of our stores, no matter what banner they operate under, were founded around the philosophy of offering customers the products they wanted to buy at a fair price, with lots of tender, loving care."

29. Giant Eagle

Giant Eagle was founded in 1918 in Pittsburgh. Today, the parent company operates more than 400 Giant Eagle stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. The Giant Eagle stores have lead-in milestones in Pittsburgh, as the first to offer seasonal items, loyalty programs, and in-store bakeries, and continue to be known for their low prices and great customer service today.

28. Giant Food

In 1923, Carlisle Meat Market opened with only two men behind the counter. Today, its legacy for outstanding customer service and quality products lives on in the more than 200 GIANT stores. In 2014, it won "Retailer of the Year" awarded by Progressive Grocer for the company's commitment to philanthropy in its local communities.

27. Hy-Vee

This regional Mid-Western grocery store, which is employee-owned, is dedicated to providing its shoppers with excellent service and low prices. The stores' expanding Health Market departments are a testament to Hy-Vee's dedication to promoting healthy lifestyles.

26. Shop n' Save

Shop n' Save opened in 1979 in the St. Louis metropolitan area and committed itself to offering low prices and quality products at each of the company's 44 locations in the region. Shop n' Save is also dedicated to improving the communities in which the stores operate through sustainability goals  that include eliminating land waste, energy and water conservation, sustainable seafood practices, and reusable bag programs.

25. Albertsons LLC

Albertsons operates in 33 states and D.C. under 18 banners, making it one of the largest food and drug retailers in the country. Its benchmark for success is rooted in operating quality stores with great customer service.

24. Fareway

This regional mid-western store has more than 100 stores dedicated to providing shoppers with clean stores, good service, and low prices. Founded in Iowa in 1938, Fareway is currently one of the largest employers in Iowa. Fareway's philosophy for future growth is centered on its employees, and finding the right people — "People who truly enjoy serving others and are always willing to give the little extra it takes to succeed. People who believe that no deal is a good deal unless it's good for everyone concerned."

23. BJ's Wholesale Club

BJ's Wholesale Club operates over 200 locations on the East Coast and Ohio, providing a warehouse-style shopping experience with low wholesale prices and trusted store brands at competitive prices including its own line of organic grocery products, Wellsley Farms.

22. Stop & Shop

The grocery store that first opened in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1914 has grown over the last 100 years to become one of the largest supermarket chains operating in southern New England. The chain has strived to provide a more efficient and cost-effective shopping experience for customers becoming one of the first supermarkets to adopt a self-checkout program in the early 2000s. Many of the stores offer a Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts café inside the store for a pleasant customer shopping experience. 

21. Super Target

Operated inside of traditional Target Stores, Super Target, is a chain of grocery stores providing everything from electronics to produce. These superstores offer a wide variety of products and services, making them a popular option for one-stop shopping.

20. Safeway Inc.

As one of the largest supermarket chains in the U.S., Safeway operates thousands of stores in North America. Safeway offers convenience shopping in many urban areas, offering home delivery services, and low prices for quality products through its own private labels, Signature Café and the more upscale label, Primo Taglio.

19. Fairway Market

Fairway's slogan, "LIKE NO OTHER MARKET ®," promises to deliver an exceptional shopping experience for patrons in the New York metropolitan area. The stores feature produce delivered daily, fresh seafood, Prime meat from in-store butcher counters, as well as bragging rights for being the only store to hand-select and roast premium coffee beans on premises. 

18. Ralphs

Ralphs operates in Southern California as part of the Kroger family. The chain of stores is the oldest operating supermarket west of the Mississippi River. Ralphs promotes everyday savings on grocery items, as well as a fuel saver program that it operates in conjunction with Shell fuel stations.

17. Vons

This division of Safeway operating in Southern California and Nevada offers patrons exceptional customer service, as well as the highest quality meats and produce. Beyond the physical operating stores, Vons will deliver to many major U.S. cities and suburbs through online and phone orders.

16. Walmart Supercenters

Continuing the same theme of low, low prices at its regular Walmart stores, Walmart Supercenters carry all of the same products as a traditional supermarket in addition to electronics, housewares, and clothes. Walmart operates more than 3,000 Supercenters across the U.S., making it convenient to find low prices on produce, seafood, meat, dairy, and other grocery items.

15. Winn-Dixie

Winn-Dixie is a supermarket chain in the Southern U.S. The supermarket first opened in 1925 and currently operates 518 stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. They have their own popular private label of soft drinks called Chek, which are produced in 20 different flavors.

14. ShopRite

Shoprite is a chain of supermarkets operating in the northeastern U.S., and is one of the largest food retailers in Philadelphia, as well as the largest employer in New Jersey. While most ShopRite stores remain family owned, all of the stores are members of the Wakefern Food Corporation. Its slogan, "We're all about food. We're all about savings. We're all about you," says it all. 

13. Aldi

The German-based global discount food retailer operates more than 1,000 stores in the U.S. Aldi offers fresh produce, meats, as well as other grocery items. The store carries both name brands and its own private label brands, including their own organic food brand. 

12. The Fresh Market

The Fresh Market is a gourmet supermarket chain based out of Greensboro, North Carolina. The store operates in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeastern U.S. The stores are meant to evoke a European market feel with high-end and specialty products.

11. H.E.B.

H.E.B is a privately held grocery store operating out of Texas with additional locations in Northern Mexico. The store produces its own line of reasonably priced quality products

10. Piggly Wiggly

The Piggly Wiggly operates in 16 states in the Midwest and Southern U.S. Considered the first "self-service" supermarket, the Piggly Wiggly was among the first stores to offer check-out counters and grocery carts in every store. Today, the pioneering supermarket is consolidated under the C & S Wholesale Grocers banner, but independently operated stores continue to strive for unparalleled customer service.

9. Meijer

Operating more than 200 stores in the Midwest, Meijer was one of the first stores to combine groceries with other department store items, effectively making it the leader in the supercenter trend. As part of its community outreach, customers can make charitable donations to community organizations along with their purchases.

8. Sprouts Farmers Market

Sprouts Farmers Markets operates more than 200 stores across the U.S. with a focus on fresh, healthy foods, as well as vitamins and supplements. The stores themselves tend to be smaller than typical supermarkets, making them an ideal fit for urban areas.

7. Kroger

Kroger, which brings in the most revenue of any supermarket chain in the U.S., is headquartered in Cincinnati, and operates more than 2,500 supermarkets across the U.S. under several banners. In addition to carrying recognizable name brands, Kroger also carries local and regional products in each of its stores at competitive prices. 

6. Costco Wholesale Markets

Costco is the largest membership-only warehouse club in the U.S. It operates close to 700 stores each following the same model of offering low-priced items in bulk quantities. In addition to offering name-brand items, Costco offers its own private label items under the name Kirkland Signature. Many of the stores feature a small food court as well as a gas station offering lower than average gas prices. 

5. Wegmans

Wegmans is a regional grocery store chain operating in the Northeastern United States. It prides itself on offering local and responsibly grown produce from its own organic farm. Wegmans also carries its own affordable health food brand and artisanal products, making it no surprise that this supermarket breaks the top five on our list.

4. Whole Foods Markets

Whole Foods Markets are the new kid on the block compared to many of the larger, older supermarket chains in the country; however, since the store's founding in Austin in 1980, the specialty store dedicated to providing shoppers with organic and natural products has blown up. Today, Whole Foods Markets operate more than 400 stores across the country.

3. Stew Leonard's

With only five locations in New York and Connecticut, Stew Leonard's has made a name for itself because of its dedication to high-quality products. The store, which started as a small dairy store in 1969, continues to stock its shelves with items from its own farm. Dubbed the "Disneyland of Dairy Stores" by The New York Times, the stores are stocked with a petting zoo, animatronics, and costumed characters that entertain customers in addition to grocery items. 

2. Publix

Publix has more than 1,000 stores across the Southern U.S., making it one of the largest regional grocery chains in the U.S. The chain is employee-owned and prides itself on exceptional customer service. Shoppers can special order items not regularly carried, and the store has its own organics label called GreenWise

1. Trader Joe's

Many of Trader Joe's more than 400 stores nationwide are concentrated in Southern California where the store is headquartered. The unique chain model, which carries more than 50,000 different products, many sporting the Trader Joe's house brand label, prides itself on providing shoppers with a wide variety of reasonably priced items. Stocking its shelves with everything from gourmet to organic to special-diet items, it is no surprise that Trader Joe's is this year's best supermarket in America.