A ”Welcome Foodies” sign greets visitors to the entrance of Jungle Jim’s, a sort of supermarket-on-steroids. Upon entering, you are welcomed by an animatronic ear-of-corn and stick-of-butter. Pass those and you are ready to shop. And gawk. With wares running the gamut from Lucky Charms cereals to Mini Marshmallow Peeps to imported Polish butter to local artisanal cheese to hundreds of hot sauces to chicken feet to…you get the picture. This Ohio Flyover Find is a store that has almost everything you need, culinary-wise, under a single roof. I say “almost”, because on my most recent trip, they were out of the Thomy Mittelsharf German mustard and the particular butter from Normandy I wanted. But I still found plenty to peruse!
Let’s understand exactly what Jungle Jim’s has to offer. In addition to your standard supermarket fare, they offer an incredible array of cheeses from countries around the world (identified by signs) as well as artisanal American cheeses. Butter Island, a refrigerated case of butter from France, Poland, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and regional producers in the United States. A vast selection of meats and animal parts (yes, the odd parts, such as pork hearts, the aforementioned chicken feet, beef hooves, and, incredibly, entire shrinkwrapped heads of pigs. (Warning! Clicking on the link will open a picture of an actual pig’s head in the meat case.). Enough candy to bedazzle an entire elementary school, all at once. Much produce, including unusual Asian and Caribbean offerings. And, the big draw for moi, the international aisles.
You know how the average supermarket has an international section (or, more likely, just part of an aisle) that is mostly soy sauces, rice noodles, salsas, and cans of Mexican Nestle milk? Jungle Jim’s is not like that. At. All. There isn’t an Asian section—there is a Chinese section. A Japanese section. A Taiwanese section. A Malaysian section. A Filipino section. A Hawaiian section. A Thai section. And that’s just pan-Asia! There’s a German section, Hungarian section, Polish section, English section, Italian section. There are aisles full of African and Caribbean foods. There are also little rooms set up like storefronts for Scandinavia, Greece, France, Spain, and the Netherlands. There’s a Kosher products room. And smack dab in the middle of this is a bus filled with hot sauces and chiles, as well as a cookware shop. It’s like a school trip to a far tastier UN building (and Jungle Jim’s also runs tours for school kids, as well as regular tourists).
What else? A cooking school. Special events, such as a Cheese Fest and an International Beer Fest. Beers and wines. And a Starbucks. Of course.
There are two locations in the Cincinnati area: in Fairfield at 5440 Dixie Highway (the original) and a newer location at 4450 Eastgate South Drive in Cincinnati.