Please recommend a Houston supermarket

There’s a few things I’d like to pick up before flying back to the UK; either goods I can’t easily buy over here or that might be cheaper or better quality in H-town.

We’re only in town for one night, arriving late, but we’ve got most of the next day free. I’d obviously rather pick up everything in one place.

We’re staying at the Hilton Southwest on the 59, travelling to Kemah the next day and back up the 45 to IAH, so anywhere near the 45 corridor or the Galleria/Westchase areas would be ideal.

Would also appreciate recommendations for particular brands.

Here’s my shopping list!

Wheat and corn tortillas
(I can get wheat ones locally but they’re quite poor).
Fresh poblano peppers
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Cans of crushed tomatoes
Mexican oregano
Velveeta
Rotel
Clam juice
Salted anchovies (i.e. packed in salt rather than oil)
Canned San Marzano tomatoes

The following I can get locally, so not so urgent:
Maple syrup grade B
Pecans
Canned clams

First, you’ll want to go to Fiesta at 6200 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77081. It’s very close to your hotel. Go during the day. You could very well be the only native English speaker in a gigantic store; (and I mean even Texan English, much less the Queen’s.) This is the original location in a booming local chain. It’s an international store so you will find not only Latin foods, but a great variety. Budget at least an hour or more. It’s Foodie Heaven. As I hinted about above, it’s not a location I would normally send a tourist I was trying to impress, but it’s something I hope you’ll appreciate. It very much serves its constituency.

Wheat and corn tortillas(I can get wheat ones locally but they’re quite poor). I assume by “wheat” you mean what we call “flour”. My favorite are made by La Rancherita on Berry near Alamo Tamales. I have only found them at a downmarket shop called Food Town. If you can find those, I recommend them. As for corn, I have no preference. I prefer yellow corn to white and just look for the most pliable ones, (freshest), I can find. They keep forever so stock up. Pro tip: Like bread, the freshest ones will be shelved closest to the floor. They move them up over time.

Fresh poblano peppers Everywhere. If you like poblanos,you might also pick up some anchos, the dried version. Also keep forever and essential in so many things including real Texas chili. There’s lots of other dried chilis also.

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce Wide variety available in multiple sizes, including rather smallish cans which I like. San Marcos brand is what I usually get, but I don’t notice much difference.

Cans of crushed tomatoes Cut, crushed, pureed, etc. You’ll have lots of choices.

Mexican oregano Look to the bulk bins for this. Throw it in a clean glass or plastic jar when you get home. I actually buy mine at a local spice shop called Flores on Airline. I drive halfway across town for it when I’m out. Love that stuff.

Velveeta, Rotel, Clam juice You know what you want there.

Salted anchovies (i.e. packed in salt rather than oil) Ditto

Canned San Marzano tomatoes Ditto.

You can get all of these things at pretty much any local grocery store. If you want a …well, let’s say a more “English-centric” option, go to HEB. It’s equally well provisioned.

I know you’ve been here many times before but nevertheless I hope you have a great trip.

Many thanks, Mr. Wah.

Oooh, look! I accidentally found out how to quote posts on here…

Yes, sorry, “flour” is what I meant. There’s a Food Town a couple of miles from Fiesta on Fondren so I’ll pop down there before going to Fiesta.

[quote=“DoobieWah, post:2, topic:4838, full:true”]If you like poblanos,you might also pick up some anchos, the dried version.[/quote]I can get anchos locally but they’re quite expensive (I just worked it out - sixty dollars per pound) so I’ll pick some up. Thanks for the reminder.

[quote=“DoobieWah, post:2, topic:4838, full:true”]Mexican oregano Look to the bulk bins for this. Throw it in a clean glass or plastic jar when you get home. I actually buy mine at a local spice shop called Flores on Airline. I drive halfway across town for it when I’m out. Love that stuff.[/quote]I reckon Flores might be a stop too far. Maybe next time.

[quote=“DoobieWah, post:2, topic:4838, full:true”]I know you’ve been here many times before but nevertheless I hope you have a great trip.
[/quote]I’m sure we will. Shame I don’t get to spend any longer in Houston this time. It’s been six months since my last visit and that was only for four nights.

Well, you can also get ALL of those things at Foodtown if you’d rather skip Fiesta altogether. Also, if it would be more convenient, you could also shop for all of those things at HEB in San Antonio. That’s actually it’s original birthplace.

Some other thoughts:

Giant burrito tortillas, (Fiesta makes some great, and great BIG ones)
Canned Refried Beans, (Firijoles Refritos)
Dried Pinto Beans
LOTS OF ANCHOS!!! (I have no idea what the price works out to but it’s a LOT less than $60/lb!)
Chili Powder, (I use Gebhardt’s but Fiesta makes a reasonable blend)
Canned Huitlacoche (I think it’s disgusting, but you’ll probably have the only can in Scotland)
Gladiola Brand Corn Bread Mix
Check out the aisle with the Hot Sauces, (literally dozens)
Peruvian Aji Amarillo Paste. You can get a jar of whole peppers also, but the paste will take up a lot less room in the luggage. (I don’t know if FoodTown has this, but Fiesta definitely does, and I’m sure HEB will also.)

I’ll be back if I think of anything else.

[quote=“DoobieWah, post:4, topic:4838, full:true”]Well, you can also get ALL of those things at Foodtown if you’d rather skip Fiesta altogether.[/quote]You’ve kinda sold me on Fiesta. I must check it out.

[quote=“DoobieWah, post:4, topic:4838, full:true”]Some other thoughts:
Giant burrito tortillas, (Fiesta makes some great, and great BIG ones)
Chili Powder, (I use Gebhardt’s but Fiesta makes a reasonable blend)
Gladiola Brand Corn Bread Mix[/quote]
Check, check and check.

[quote=“DoobieWah, post:4, topic:4838, full:true”]Canned Huitlacoche
Peruvian Aji Amarillo Paste.[/quote]
Never heard of either of these and Huitlacoche sounds…umm…interesting. I’ll have to try some.

I can pick up your other suggestions easily and cheaply enough in the UK, but thanks anyway and keep 'em coming!

I think you should be able to get everything at Fiesta too? I believe they make tortillas in house daily. Also at many large HEB stores.

Things I can’t seem to find at Tesco’s in UK:

Sweet n Low
popcorn - can’t deal with no popcorn

I pack sweet n low for trips there, and bar soap too because liquid body wash is prefered where we stay.

Have a great trip and let us know all about your eating adventures!

[quote=“Lambowner, post:6, topic:4838”]
I think you should be able to get everything at Fiesta too? I believe they make tortillas in house daily. Also at many large HEB stores.[/quote]Okay, cool. There’s an HEB in Bellaire too so between the three stores I should be good.

[quote=“Lambowner, post:6, topic:4838”]
Things I can’t seem to find at Tesco’s in UK:

popcorn - can’t deal with no popcorn[/quote]
I’m a bit bemused by this. A quick check on the Tesco website reveals a wide variety of popcorn including an appalling-sounding Tesco brand “Strawberry Pepper and Dark Chocolate” flavor. Were you after a particular type?

[quote=“Lambowner, post:6, topic:4838”]
Have a great trip and let us know all about your eating adventures!
[/quote]Thanks, and willdo!

The kernel kind. Admittedly “my” Tesco is tiny, but no microwave popcorn or plain kernel corn.

My local Tesco stocks East End brand kernels. Rather bizarrely, they’re in the “Asian foods” aisle.

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I was at HEB yesterday and happened to notice the anchos in the bulk bin by the front door. They were $3/lb.

They do not carry La Rancherita flour tortillas, but I was reminded that prior to discovering LR, I liked the HEB taquito tortillas. Very soft and fluffy. The LR ones are the opposite, flat and “rustic” style. Depends on what you like.

As much for Lambsy as FF, Fiesta also sells a great store-brand microwave popcorn. The “Natural” flavor. Probably made by the same firm as many generics, it’s great and stupid cheap.

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I missed your post before heading off to the States.

I went to both Fiesta and HEB, but bought my anchos from the bulk bins at Fiesta where they were $5 per pound. The checkout lady mistakenly put them through as cascabels though, so I only paid $4 per pound.

With anchos at $60 per pound over here, I reckon I’m in the wrong business.

I was running short of time so didn’t make it to Food Town. Faced with a bewildering array of corn tortillas at Fiesta, I ended up grabbing La Banderita brand yellow ones. The flour selection was much more limited. La Banderita again for large burrito tortillas (there didn’t appear to be Fiesta brand ones) and Guerrero for small flour ones.

Took your advice and picked up Gladiola Corn Bread Mix (with jalapenos) and Aji Amarillo Paste.

Finding Huitlacoche was a bit of a challenge. I gave up and asked an assistant. After five minutes and checking with two other assistants, he found it in the International Food aisle.

Salted anchovies weren’t available in either store, but I found ten jars at Spec’s on Westheimer and cleaned them out.

I also picked up a bag of Key Limes (something I’d never clapped eyes on before). I’ve squeezed them and frozen the juice. Once I’ve lost the seven pounds I put on munching my way around the States, I’ll get a pie on the go.

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I finally got around to trying these recently when I had some friends around for dinner.

I fried up half an onion, garlic, jalapeno and a little Mexican oregano then added the Huitlacoche and finally some chopped coriander (or cilantro, if you insist). This got stuffed into a folded corn tortilla with some shredded mozzarella and crisped up in a dry pan.

None of us found it disgusting, just a bit bland. Vague mushroomy taste. At five bucks for a small can I doubt I’d be rushing to try it again.

Per the suggestion on the back of the cornbread mix packet, I added creamed corn and grated cheddar. Tasty.

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When are you coming back? I’m sure I’m not the only Houstonian that would get quite a giggle from joining you for a piss-up.

Oh yes, that would be fun.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold