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Deep Roots Market is one of the more unique venues to find casual dining eats. First of all, it’s a grocery store. Next, it’s in a modern building on the fringe of downtown Greensboro, firmly planted in Lower Fisher, or LoFi neighborhood.

According to its website, Deep Roots began on campus at Guilford College, as a produce buying club in the 1960s. By 1976, the co-op grew to a storefront business. In 2013, the market relocated to downtown Greensboro to continue to meet the needs of its owners and the community.

The business is controlled by member-owners who pay a yearly fee to return surplus revenues proportionate to their use of the store and not the individual ownership share. Ownership is not required to shop at the market as it is open to all, but benefits include discounted prices on the hot bar and salad bar, as well as a seat at the table to choose who governs the store by electing or serving on the co-op board of directors.

Ownership is available for a one-time, lifetime investment of $100. Students and low-income memberships are available for qualifying individuals at a lower price. The market supports local farmers, food producers, breweries, bakeries and other vendors. Weekly shipments of fresh produce and food stuffs keeps the shelves stocked and packed with local goodness.

The refrigerated and frozen sections of the store have a wide selection of conventional items such as milk, eggs and yogurt as well as a wide variety of tofu, fermented foods and alternative milk beverages. Hand-packed frozen dinners and single-serve frozen treats can also be found.

The deli counter has locally and internationally sourced cheeses, meats, spreads, pickles and cured meats. Pre-packed soups, prepared salads (potato, chicken, egg, vegan tuna, coleslaw), desserts (cake slices, fruit crumbles, parfaits, pudding) and ready-to-eat biscuits and sandwiches are easy to pick up on your lunch break or for dinner with your family.

The main attraction for inexpensive eats is the hot bar. The hot bar and the salad bar are a main draw during peak times. Staff gleans items from the produce department, which dictates what appears on the bar, but there is a different theme each day. There is a daily theme, such as Mediterranean Mondays with spanakopita and marinated salmon or Thankful Thursdays with traditional comfort foods including mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, as well as Asian-inspired Fridays. Six to 12 items are available every day. Many vegetarian and vegan-friendly options grace the steam table and the fresh salad bar.

My first visit, the bar was stocked heavy with Asian inspired options: fried brown rice, soy glazed noodles, marinated tilapia, vegetarian egg rolls, teriyaki chicken wings and roasted broccoli. The chicken wings were my favorite. Falling off the bone and coated in an unctuous brick-red sauce, they were the perfect foil to the vegetable studded fried rice and lightly-seasoned steamed cabbage.

The market has started a pre-packaged meal program with hearty proteins such as meatloaf and roasted chicken with two side dishes that serves two to three people.

In times like these, it’s comforting to know that hyper-local grocery shopping and to-go meal options exist. If you have never given Deep Roots Market a try, there is no better time than today.

Casual Dining features local restaurants for diners on a budget. It appears the second and fourth Thursday of the month. Contact Nikki Miller-Ka at nicolettemiller.ka@gmail.com.

Casual Dining: Nikki Miller-Ka reviews Deep Roots Market | Dining
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