Cali’s Supermarkets

in Groceries/Plan to stay/Shopping

After moving to Colombia I had to figure out where to do my shopping. Sure, my girlfriend and her family had plenty of suggestions, but as a foreigner we do not always appreciate the same things in life. There’s a ton of supermarkets in Cali and on top of the more established chains that are spread over the city, every little neighborhood also have their own mini-markets and mom ‘n pop shops selling your daily necessities. This list below are by no means extensive, but it does give you an overview of all the major chains as well as my comments on each one. A lot of supermarkets do home deliveries, which is really nice – ask your local branch for details.

SuperA

Is the only one on the list, that is not a chain. They don’t even have a website. It is however one of my favorite places to do my shopping, because of its location and selection. It’s located next to the Cali river and has free no-hassle parking on the roof, right next to my favorite bakery, making it easy to do one stop instead of two. It’s small, making it fast to shop here. They have a great selection of fruits, vegetables and even a section for organics. It also has a small station selling delicacies liked imported cheeses, hams, sausages and olives. They sell real milk that isn’t “larga vida” (long life) and have a lady making freshly squeezed orange juice that she bottles – ready to take home. The Libanese owner, also makes sure they stock interesting stuff like seaweed for making sushi and even arab specialties. The butcher is improving his section now includes stuff like baby-back ribs. There’s also a small pharmacy inside and the staff will happily help you carry your all goods to the car. It’s not the cheapest, but comes highly recommended, and it is open every day from 7am to 10pm.

The address is: Carrera 1 Oeste # 1-109, in Barrio Santa Teresita. For home deliveries call 892 0640.

La14

Is a local, but expanding chain, and probably my favorite of the chain supermarkets in Cali. They are located all over town and have a massive selection of everything including a lot of imported goodies. Prices are fair for most items and besides your normal groceries they also carry electro-domestic machines, computers, toys for kids, office supplies, pharmacy, ATM’s, pots, pans and silverware and have recently started a section for organics in some of their locations. Their stores are usually massive so it takes a while to find everything, at least for the first few visits. Some of the locations are also split up having groceries in one place and then have another division across the street with electronics and clothing. I’ve never seen it closed, but I think they close around 10pm. As a little bonus, the Santa Monica location also has a “El Molino” bakery inside, making it easy to get your “real” bread at the same time.

Éxito

Is the largest South American retailer with 479 stores in Colombian and abroad. Their stores are similar to La14 above – large and have a good layout. La14 has a slightly better selection of specialties. I do find it to be a bit pricier than most other supermarkets and it seems like you always have to wait in long lines to pay, which annoys me. For that reason I rarely go.

Carulla

These supermarkets are the luxury branch of Grupo Èxito and are the most exclusive Cali has to offer. The stores have great layouts – small and fast, play good music, have a an awesome selection of international products, meats, wine, beer and specialties. But, expect to pay a premium for just about any product in the shop. Often as much as 20-30%. They try to compensate by having discounts during the week like wine and liquors on Fridays, meats on Saturdays and fruits/veggies on Tuesdays. A loyalty program has been introduced where you earn points to buy additional stuff like Tefal pans or Samsonite suitcases at a discount. My favorite is the one in San Fernando on carrara 34.  They have a pretty good pastry section and you never wait in line.

OlimpicaSuperInter

Are good supermarkets without having any of the bling. The are a little cheaper than the ones listed above and carry less of a selection. They have a lot of locations and I’m sure that they are the preferred choice for many Colombians. SuperInter’s stores usually have a very decent butcher and carry a lot of cheaper private label products.

MercaMio

This is your budget shopping destination for everyday groceries. They are pretty big carry all necessities and here is where you can buy corn, rice, beans, etc straight from the sack. It is cheap! Some items could be as cheap as 25-50% lower than the competition.  It’s a fine choice for veggies, grains, toiletpaper, toothpaste, but if you’re looking for something more exotic you might be disappointed. They have 7 locations scattered over Cali and stay open from 7am to 9:30pm every day.

PriceSmart

Is an American company offering membership shopping like Sam’s Club and Costco. Last time I checked the membership cost $65.000 pesos per person for a year, which gives you the option to add a friend/family member for free. They carry lots of American brand name products on the shelves and sell anything from Apple iPods to Heinz ketchup. The selection of imported meat from the US is great, although expensive. As much as I do like the goodies they have on the shelves, I rarely go, and I have in fact been letting my membership expire. The main reason being that buying massive quantities is not really my thing, and unless you have a big family to feed or you are hosting an event, then most of the products tend to expire before we get around to consuming them. That being said, the Colombians do love it. It almost seems like visiting the place is a family event. Don’t forget to stock up on toilet paper once you’re there.

What’s you favorite? Let us know below!

Passed through Cali for the first time in 2011, on his way from the US to Brazil on a motorcycle. Ended up kissing a caleña on his last night and the rest is history. Has been a resident of Cali, Colombia since 2013 and currently living in Barrio Bellavista with his girlfriend and 2 daughters.

4 Comments

  1. My perspective as a local: la 14 has the best selection in terms of variety of brands of regular stuff and imported things as well ( for example: pretty sure you can’t but garam masala at exito or even carulla). They have recently added a healthy section in most stores where things like real Greek yogurt , almond butter ,quest bars and so on can be found. It’s perfect for health nuts like me. All the 14 s in cali have one day a week where they have a 20% discount on produce and the store pharmacies have a discount, I think it’s 10-15% the 7th, 14th and 21st of each month . My mother has a saying ” if you can’t find X product at la 14 , you won’t find it anywhere else in cali.” I’ve found that to be true in about 90% of cases!
    Exito is a hit or miss, though their fish ,especially salmon ,is good. Their imported section is nice too. Carulla can also be a hit or miss , and if they don’t have it , chances are la 14 will . A few weeks ago I went to most of the super markets on this list trying to get fresh asparagus and only carulla had it . On the other hand, one time I was shocked to learn they don’t carry allspice, so there you go .
    Pricesmart is great for bulk tooth paste, soap, cleaning products and the like which are cheaper than at regular stuff. They sell a lot of American junk food, which is why so many caleños love it, but there are some gems hidden there if you know what you’re looking for
    For example , we get silk almond milk in bulk there, as well at any kind of cheese (cottage , blue, pepperjack, cheddar , feta etc ) at a lower price than anywhere else. It’s the only place we can get sabra hummus or kashi go lean brand cereal , or bulk nuts beyond the usual peanuts – I mean pecans , walnuts , cashews and pistachios, which are harder to find in cali than you’d think. Not cheap though .it’s definitely worth visiting for these kind of things alone.
    The others are extremely basic bread and butter type stores in my opinion. Coincidentally I was in super inter today and not one of the employees knew what arugula was ! That’s why I prefer la 14 for general shopping needs.

  2. I regularly shop at La14, however recently I forgo my aprehension and visit Galeria La Alameda, a big farmers market that has also great selection of fish and at least two great stalls where to buy nuts like almonds and unsalted peanuts at half the price you get anywhere else in Cali. La galeria is a building but also extends through Several streets, so in the first visit be prepared to walk.
    There are lots of restaurants with awsome fresh food from the Pacific region and my favortite, a store called distriquesos alameda, where besides cheeses, it can be found everything needed for baking EVERYTHING at very reasonable prices.

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