Jungle Jim’s

Guest post from Lark McMillan! I am so jealous. Anyone want to go to Ohio???

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This past weekend my husband and I made a trip to the Cincinnati area to visit Ikea (the world’s best furniture store amusument park) and Jungle Jim’s International Market (the world’s best grocery store amusement park). I had done some research online about Jungle Jim’s(http://www.junglejims.com), but no amount of research could have prepared me for the reality of what we found.

It’s hard to imagine what 6.5 acres of grocery store property looks like (as described on the website). The store is 300,000 square feet. There’s a monorail at the front entrance. I don’t know where it goes, but it looked fully operational. There’s also a large fountain and waterfall at the entrance, complete with life size replicas of giraffes and other wild animals, reminiscent of a miniature golf course.

When you enter the store, you are greeted by a large animatronic corn cob and stick of butter. They wave at you as you come in the door. It’s hard to grasp the enormity of the story, as it is all sectioned off, and almost like a maze, but there are maps at the front, which give you a sense of scale and comfort.

We couldn’t actually do too much shopping in the store because the furniture we bought at Ikea that was taking up most of the car space. However, we did wander the store for almost two hours, and managed to buy some ingredients we would never find in our neck of the woods.

Here are some highlights:

– Thousands – literally thousands – of types of beer from all over the world! We came home with 38 beers, including Schlitz in glass bottles, Lone Star, some Sierra Nevada I’d never seen, Brooklyn Lager, a bunch of different IPAs, pumpkin beer and much more. You are allowed to mix and match six packs of almost every beer they stock.

– A wine section that boasts 12,000 different types from all corners of the globe! My favorite wine is Vino Verdhe, and they had seven diffrent varieties.

– Grippo’s – a Cincinnati chip that is very delicious. We can only get plain, BBQ, and pork rinds here, but we always are jealous of people who could find “Bermuda Onion,” “Hot Dill Pickle,” or “Jalapeno Cheddar.” You can get all those flavors and more at Jungle Jim’s.

– Cheese! From 40 countries! Goat cheese! Sheep cheese! Cow cheese! The cheese section is seriously larger than I could describe.

– The Olive Bar. There were 50 kinds of fresh olives featured. They had more varieties in the back. Who even knew that many olive types existed?!

– The candy section has a giant moving, dancing bear dressed like Elvis that sings. There are also all you candy favorites like Pez, chewing gum cigars, Zotz, and plenty of other childhood memories wrapped in bright colored paper.

– The International Section. This might actually be larger than our grocery store in Whitesburg. The produce section is so varied – dragonfruit, black garlic, kaffir limes, papayas, plantains, herbs, and more. Then there are aisles for different countries – Korea, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, Spain, Greece, England, Germany, Scandanavia, and many others. We bought some Indian spices, Korean kimchee, fresh lemongrass (at only $1.49/lb!), and a giant tub of grape leaves.

By this point, we hadn’t even looked at the frozen food, American produce, meat department, natural and organic foods, juice/drinks, cigars, and I’m sure I’m leaving out sections, but we had to go. The dog was in the car (we did buy him some treats from the giant pet section) and we were anxious to assemble our new furniture.

My only recommendations are:
1. Go to Jungle Jim’s. I don’t care if it’s in Ohio and you aren’t. It’s not a grocery store. It’s a destination.
2. Don’t rush.
3. Make sure your trunk is empty.
4. Bring a cooler for refrigerated and frozen items.

Jungle Jim’s is in Fairfield, OH, just north of downtown Cincinnati. Look it up at http://www.junglejims.com.