I generally make it a habit to take at least one trip a year to Fairfield, Ohio to visit Jungle Jim’s International Market. If you’re not familiar with it, Jungle Jim’s is a grocery store (although that term is probably an understatement) that houses a plethora of foods and beverages from around the world. It’s quite a spectacle inside with the huge variety of products and interesting decorations. It’s not just a trip to go buy groceries, it’s a full-fledged experience!
It has become such a popular destination that a second Jungle Jim’s opened last year in Cincinnati, Ohio. If you’re within a couple hours of driving distance from either location, it’s well worth the visit, especially if you’re looking for a particular beer or wine, seasonings, or food items from another country. According to Wikipedia, Jungle Jim’s has over 180,000 items, 60,000 which are of international origin.
Animals guarding the entrance at Jungle Jim’s
What to Expect
Walking up to the store itself is interesting, as there are model animals out front near a pond with running water. [insert pic] As you walk through the front doors there are stop lights and other decorations on the wall.
Once you enter the store, you are presented with shelves stocked with snacks, mountains of cheese, every deli meat you could ever want, and of course the most important part – the alcohol section. It’s safe to say whenever I visit this particular department it’s guaranteed to put a dent in my wallet and raises eyebrows when I check out!
Beer, Wine and Other Beverages
There is a huge selection in the beer and wine department. On top of this you can also purchase spirits at Jungle Jim’s State Liquor Store. I especially enjoy browsing their single bottle section – their site boasts they carry over 1,200 different beers, running the whole gamut from your normal beer to crazy craft beers.
Glorious aisles of beer
My most recent trip I bought a cart full of single bottles from Belgium and Germany that I haven’t seen before. It’s definitely worth a visit for this section along – there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone!
Specialty and International Items
Several other areas within the store warrant a visit including the candy section, hot sauce aisles, gluten-free section, fresh meat and fish, fresh produce, and of course the rows and rows of international specialty items.
I personally find the produce area especially fascinating, as there are fruits and vegetables there that I’ve never seen the likes of before – even if you don’t buy them, it’s interesting to peruse. And if you really like fresh fish, you’ve got it at Jungle Jim’s! There are tanks of live fish in the seafood section.
Moving on from the seafood you will eventually run across the aisles of hot sauce (so many bottles in fact, that it is alphabetized!). If you have difficulty finding this section, just keep your eyes looking up for the fire truck hanging from the ceiling. Near this area you’ll also find the rows and rows of international products, which I could easily spend at least half an hour wandering through.
Hot sauce for everyone!
Last but not least, Jungle Jim’s has a nice selection of gluten-free groceries, so if you’re interested in gluten-free items, make sure to swing by this section as well.
If you want the full-blown Jungle Jim’s experience, with crowds and all, go during the weekend. You’ll be met with a bustling grocery store full of folks, some of which can even be seen photographing the restrooms (when you see them you’ll understand why). If you want a quieter shopping experience, go during the week. Either way, if it’s your first visit allow yourself at least two hours to wander around the store – trust me – you’ll need it!