Mesmerized at the European Market

Briana and KarinaO

Since one of us is of Eastern European descent, we wanted to find a place in Tucson that could transport us to that part of the world. Thankfully, we found a great place called European Market and Deli! With many recent five-star ratings on Yelp and accompanying pictures of juicy sarma, vibrant red borsch, and cozy decor our eyes were instantly caught and we had to stop by.

Let’s take a look inside…

As we pulled into the parking lot, we saw a banner that read LIQUOR-BEER-WINE…BEST GYROS IN TOWN! The store is located in a plaza whose exterior is typical of Arizona. Brown walls and a cowboy-Esque statue reside near the entrance. However, once you open the door you are hugged by isles of jars filled with sparkly, reflective jams and vegetables, sardine-style liquor bottles lining the shelves, a rainbowed assortment of candy, and walls decorated in authentic European memorabilia.

This market is not the largest but it’s very well stocked. To the left of the store, there are fridges with beverages and dairy products. Following to the right is one double-sided aisle stocked to the brim with jams and jellies, pickled veggies, syrups, and toppings for bread or crackers such as eggplant or fish egg spread. To the right of that aisle is a wall with bags on bags of green dry seasoning pouches, instant mixed, as well as dried and canned seafood. Once you walk past the distance of the aisle here, you reach the deli.

The menu holds European specials: cabbage rolls, Greek salad, dolma plate, baklava, etc., and at times… crepes! The food is also encouraged to be enjoyed with a cold beer, as do most Europeans. After scooping your order up from the deli counter, you can head over to the room adjacent where there are 6 small tables with chairs set up. It is quiet and cozy within the three surrounding walls. Embroidered Eastern clothing, traditional gold cookware and utensils with flowery patterns, Russian dolls, vintage posters of scenery, and woven placemats lined the walls around us. With each glance around we felt as though my grandma might just come out of a corner.

While we were walking through the store, mesmerized, the woman who was ringing up a customer approached us gently and greeted us. We discussed our interest in the uniqueness of this cultural market in the community and asked whether we could speak to the owner or manager further for more information for TAKES ON TUCSON. To our surprise, the woman herself was the owner and was willing to give us some of her time. We handed her our website card and brought out our pre-written questions which we had prepared before visiting. 

Specialties from all over

Olga Chausovskaya tells us that they have been open for 20 years and decided to fill the gap they noticed in the European community here. That’s what sets this market apart. The specialties on the aisles are unseen on the typical Tucson shelves. Some of the countries she mentions carrying products from including Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Hungary, Russia, and Romania. Olga notes that this is the most rewarding thing she has experienced from having her business; being able to share new things with people.

She calls the pierogis- or dumplings, pelmeni’s- or ravioli, and their scoopable individual candies some items they carry that set them apart. However, the soft and sweet farmers’ cheese, smoky kielbasa sausage, and endless alcoholic beverage choices are her personal favorites.

We were curious as to what sorts of people Olga sees daily and her response almost jumped from her lips. “Everybody!” This made us laugh for a second but this was true. Being in there we were passed by a younger couple with a kid and some older folks stopping in for alcohol and sweets.

There is a little for everybody.

Some final highlights worth mentioning are that this Market and Deli delivers on EzCater and Doordash and that this wonderful establishment is taking donations for Ukraine. Being immigrants who traveled to the U.S. in 1989, having to see their home country suffer is hard. By selling Ukrainian flags and flag-decorated cookies, the proceeds are being sent to a children’s shelter in Ukraine.

We also noticed some jewelry in cases adorning small corners of the shop. Beautiful golds and shiny silvers glinted through the glass and continued to catch our eyes. We asked Olga to tell us a little more about the pieces and she continued on to say that she is a jewelry collector and seller, often bringing many pieces of jewelry from Europe. Anyone interested in vintage pieces with rich history should surely stop in and take a peek at her changing selection.

Despite being in the heart of the Sonoran Desert,  the European Market and Deli cradles its customers in Eastern European hands. From snacks to meal ingredients, freshly prepared dishes, frozen items, beverages, desserts, or even some fun decorations and accessories, the European Market and Deli is the place to go. The owners are kind and eager to help with any questions you may have that pertain to the history and culture from their selection that they offer or about the market itself.  Go be immersed in a new culture for a day at the intersection of Swan and Columbus!


Briana Robles is a freshman at The University of Arizona and is studying to become a pediatrician. Karina Oprea is a freshman at The University of Arizona and is studying to become an Early Childhood Education Teacher.