Best D.C. Safeway

Best: Chevy Chase
5545 Connecticut Ave. NW, (202) 244-6097
2nd Best: Adams Morgan
1747 Columbia Road NW, (202) 667-0774
Naming Safeway outposts as the best anything is tougher than most of the steaks in their meat cases. Safeways are just Safeways, after all—not great, not terrible. Here the chain’s known more for the peculiar institution of nicknaming individual stores (the Social, the Soviet, the Secret) than for service and selection. Yet even with the recent influx of better grocery stores—Harris Teeter, Trader Joe’s—the old standby hangs on in D.C. Location, of course, is the reason; no one wants to truck down from Chevy Chase to Foggy Bottom, even for Three-Buck Chuck. But people in that almost-Maryland community need not complain too much. Their grocery store (the “Snobby Safeway”?) is a pretty good little emporium. There’s convenient parking for their Saabs and BMWs, an above-average in-store flower shop, a pharmacy, and, well, food in good amounts. The produce presentation tends toward the fancy (not quite Wegman’s, but better than most), the store’s easy to navigate, and service is noticeably efficient and friendly. It’s not the mirror opposite of the Safeway on Columbia Road (called the “Spanish Safeway” or the “Sandinista Safeway,” depending on whom you ask), but it’s close. So why is Adams Morgan’s oft-hated grocery the second-best Safeway in D.C.? Simple: Sticktoitiveness. In April of last year, Harris Teeter finally moved in to Adams Morgan after about a decade of talking about it. It offered all the things Safeway didn’t, namely service and selection. Oh, and samples. The neighborhood was understandably excited and spent time eating the free cheese and cruising the wide, stocked aisles. But as the newness wore off and the recession kicked in, we returned to the comfort of our old friend, the Safeway. The lines got long again, but the bill seemed smaller than at the Teet. Plus: Everything was right where we left it, including the decent selection of Hispanic foods. It’s not the “Sexy Safeway”—the nickname the mayor tried to give the newly opened store at 5th and K Streets NW—but it’s ours.