Grocery Shopping In [Houston, Texas]

Yep heard all that long ago and also that all the vendors are gone while it happens. Shocked to hear they are still there. Must go visit. Triple A was classic. My friend always wanted me to go on sausage day, which I think was Tuesdays. Hahaha.

The vendors were the best part. They market themselves as a “farmers market” but the only local thing local I’ve seen are the strawberries from Alvin.

I’ve had many vegetable gardens and there is a very short harvest season before the sun burns everything up. Most of the produce comes from Mexico or California, the same stuff you can buy at Kroger or MY HEB. I know for a fact the okra is from Mexico because I’ve bought it many times and when a strong cold front pushes through it is unavailable for a period and the owner told me it will take some time before they get more.

We’re going to pull the trigger on some stuffed chickens next weekend for the holiday whenever we are able to celebrate it, also lots of good yelp reviews.

Since this was your suggestion you will be held responsible should things go awry. The Wifeacita, although diminutive in stature has vowed to hunt you down if necessary.

Here’s an example of a farmer’s market that we can’t pull here due to growing seasons.

If only San Fran was otherwise liveable! How much are those dam pears!? Cause you have to spend a million two to buy a hut there. Pffft. Cali is off my list. XXXXX Once was enough. Load them pears up on Amazon Prime and ship them to Texas. Why anyone lives there is beyond me.

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I’ve got two close by but only use them if I need an item or two.

Heard of it. Did you know we had A&P here? The one in Sharpstown had a coke machine with six cent bottled cokes. If you jiggled the handle right you could get a free coke and six cents, big money back in the 60’s.

I was a bamboozler at less than 10 years of age and haven’t stopped.

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I don’t know if you remember Alvin Van Black from TV and radio but he said that was one place to take out of towners, especially the species from the north, it’s like a border town complete with a dentist.

It used to be a Globe, think cheap K-Mart.

I worked across the street at the Loew’s Drive-Inn Theatre snack bar where I was head chef at the tender age of fifteen. It taught me timing putting out multiple items at the same time.

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I used to push the coin return and sometimes got lucky with a forgotten quarter or dime. Until the day I stuck my finger in the pool of spit in the coin well. That too was a thing for a while. Still grosses me out.

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Yikes! You should sue on the grounds of mental anguish. Know any good lawyers?

H Mart

When HMart ( ) first hit town, I was already well into my seeking new ingredients phase so naturally I wandered over to their Blalock store to see what’s what. I bought some gochujang, store-made kimchi, a couple of jars of some paste or other, some rice, and for sure a few other things.

I had an opportunity to stop in there just a couple of weeks ago. I bought some gochujang, store-made kimchi a couple of jars of some paste or other, some rice, baby bok choy, snow peas and for sure a few other things. The fresh fish market is worth a visit all alone, but I stopped in pretty early in the day and it wasn’t yet fully stocked.

I wound up stopping into 99 Ranch just down the street on my way back to the freeway as well. What can I say? I’m an addict.

What makes it Special: Specialty Korean ingredients and produce. Great fresh fish market.

What makes it Avoidable: Not much English spoken there. It’s not a problem if you know what you want, but if you’re me…


Food Town

Foodtown ( ) is a medium sized Houston based chain. The one at Wilcrest and Briar Forest used to be on my way home from work and I stopped in once because it was literally the ONLY grocery store on my way home from work and I needed something, probably milk. It was kind of a dumpy little store, not dirty but just kind of “tired”. There were only two cashiers open and both were hosting lines back into the grocery aisles.

I turned around, walked out and didn’t return for a few years.

Once again, I’m driving home from work and needed something, probably milk, and decided to tough it out. I popped in and me being me, I just had to walk the aisles and see what they had. Towards the back behind the produce section was an island display of boxes of wine. Dozens of them and all of the ones on top were opened and the ones below still sealed. (Yeah yeah, be patient, I’m painting a picture here.)

Now I’m not really a wine drinker, but the display had a sign that caught my eye. It said $3/bottle. And there were dozens of different bottles. Many dozens. So I pulled out my phone and started searching and found something very interesting. While most of the bottles were of the normally $10 - $15 bottle variety, there were some pretty nice bottles as well. I eventually wound up buying a couple of cases of a red, a couple of bottles of port, and an Australian blend of “Old and Rare” that contained some 100 year old wines in the blend and sold for $80. I was intrigued and started stopping in pretty regularly as they had some great turnover that seemed endless.

I ultimately got the story that they had bought out the remainder inventory of some stores that had closed or changed vendors or something but for a few months there, I was literally awash in wine. Eventually it all ran out and I went back to beer and scotch, but I still have a bottle of sake and that Australian “Old and Rare” I’m saving for a special occasion.

But over time, my attitude about the store in general changed and it almost certainly was the wine, and even after the wine sold out, I found that I still like that tired old store. The produce is solid, the prices on most things are very good and the meat department is surprisingly strong. I know a couple of cashiers by name and although I don’t stop by as often as I used to, I still pop in once in a while and I always come away with something excellent.

It’s not a grocery mecca by any means, but it is a homey neighborhood retailer. If you have one handy, drop in and see if it can work for you.

What makes it Special: Good fresh produce and meat department. Nice people.

What makes it Avoidable: Don’t go for fish or décor.


Sprouts and Fresh Market hit Houston around the same time. Fresh Market took over a number of old Rice Market locations, and Sprouts took whatever they could find. Fresh Market lasted about a year, and Sprouts is still going strong.

Sprouts ( ) is great for produce, fresh fish, deli meats and cheeses, olive oil and specialty vinegars. I especially like their “bulk bins” with rice and beans, sugar and salt, dried fruits and nuts and gummy worms. And coffee.

They also have an extensive health supplement and care section, if that’s your thing.

Sprouts is conveniently located for me and is definitely in my weekly rotation. If you have one handy but have been looking for an excuse to pop in, consider this it. Try it, you’ll like it.

What makes it Special: Great fresh produce. Good weekly specials.

What makes it Avoidable: Slightly higher prices for pantry staples (when not “on special”). Believe it or not, they don’t carry alfalfa sprouts.

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I went in that store once and found nothing great, perhaps I’ll try it again. It’s kinda sketchy.


The name Foodtown is kinda sketchy, this coming from someone who used to frequent Foodarama in Sharpstown, another sketchy store with a name to match.

H Mart is my go to place for live blue crabs and its just minutes from where I live. I hate the just minutes phrase, it could be 10 or 10,000, in this case ten.

Another one I hate is a fraction of the cost, 99/100 is a fraction.

La Michoacana

La Michoacana is a large regional chain of Mexican meat markets, (aka carnicerias ). My local store is located in the same strip center as the Food Town noted above and I first visited it on a whim. Originally, I thought it might be a good place to pop in on the way home from the office for milk, or tortillas, or onion…You know, just a quick stop. Unfortunately, milk and the like are very expensive there BUT, along the way I found the fresh meat counter in the back and the hot lunch counter on the side and came to understand the appeal.

These days I might stop in for a quick taco, or some prepared carnitas or chicharones, or Valentina sauced chicken wings.

And always, at the register, a small bag of cajeta candy. If you’re old enough to remember the little individually wrapped candies at the bottom of the tortilla chip basket at Monterrey House, it’s that.


At my store there’s not much English spoken, but I’ve never had a problem getting what I wanted.

Love that place. It’s like stepping into another country for ten minutes.

A delicious country.

What makes it Special: Carnitas! And Cajeta Candy!

What makes it Avoidable: Gotta get your groceries elsewhere, but Food Town is an eight iron away.

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Trader Joe’s

I doubt there’s much about Trader Joe’s that I can tell you that you don’t already know. As an avid reader of food-centric websites and fora, I had heard of Trader Joe’s long before they appeared in Houston. I couldn’t wait to visit and hit the first one in town, (in the Montrose area), the second day they were open. I was at the door when they opened that Saturday morning. I loved it from that day and love it still.

I’ve read accounts of others in others parts of the country who complain of the parking, the narrow aisles, the clientele but I have none of those issues at the two local stores I frequent.

It has become indispensable for certain items including but not limited to chicken strip dog treats, …

OK, so they are only “indispensable” for one thing, but I always pick up several things and the dog treats alone make it a required weekly visit. I like their selection of nuts, their Romaine lettuce, their olives and mustards and white Modena vinegar, soap, selection of cheeses, onion salt, and stuff like that.

I have not gotten into the habit of eating their frozen or prepared dishes and don’t feel compelled to start. If I were throwing a big party, I would certainly have TJ’s on my shopping list for crackers and munchies of various kinds. Since I don’t know enough people to throw a party it’s not an issue but if I did…

I love Trader Joe’s and my dog LOVES Trader Joe’s chicken treats. She has great taste so you can take her word for it.

What makes it Special: Many high-quality unique and tasty products.

What makes it Avoidable: In Houston? Nothing.


And then there’s Aldi. Now I know there is some Old World relationship between Aldi and Trader Joe’s but I don’t want to talk about it.

Aldi showed up in Houston a couple of years after Aldi and like TJ’s, I was an “early adopter”. At first Aldi was very inconveniently located and so it was more a novelty visit once or twice a year. Then they built another store closer to me and then I moved household a bit closer still and now Aldi is a frequent stop for milk, bread, pasta, pepperoni, cheese, eggs, pickles, potatoes, chocolate, potato and corns chips and pork rinds, and canned tuna and salmon, salad dressing, masala sauce, storage baggies, mushrooms, mustards, coffee, ice cream, butter, and… well, you get the idea.

I don’t mind the quarter deposit on the shopping cart and I don’t mind bringing my own bags. I always return my cart and bring my own bags anyway

My Aldi is just a few years old and has already undergone a major renovation.

I like it.

I like the employees at my store also. They’re happy to take my constructive criticism and that isn’t always the case. :blush:

What makes it Special: Incredible prices on hundreds of everyday staples. Good quality also.

What makes it Avoidable: You still have to go to other stores, but Aldi is an easy stop and a reliable source for many things.

How about “…up to…”?

Save “up to” 75% on your order!

Lose “up to” 250 pounds!

Drives me nuts!