Bon Appetit says Central Market is one of the eight best neighborhood supermarkets in the country. Eschewing traditional success metrics like profit or efficiency, the foodie mag (unsurprisingly) favors quality and selection.
The result is nine supermarkets from H-E-B's specialty brand (including the giant one on Westheimer) that successfully blend the freshness of farmers markets and tried-and-true bulk shopping of traditional grocery stores. Plus Central Market throws in specialty food items from around the world to excite the food snobs.
Author E.C. Gladstone is particularly fond of Central Market. In the “What they do better” section, he writes:
“Almost everything: Huge produce selection? Check. Grass-fed, organic, free-range, sustainable meats and poultry? Check. In-house bakery? Check. Cooking classes with famed local chefs? Check! Plus a salt bar and a fresh guacamole cart. Don’t hate.”
He also lauds the chain’s 500 cheeses and civic activism, as well as its use of live music and events to bring the community together.
Other supermarkets on the list include the Northern equivalent of Central Market, Wegmans, which has a salad bar with three quinoa salads and live sushi prep, as well as more than 70,000 products.
There are a couple of San Francisco stores, including Andronico’s and Bi-Rite Market, but they only have seven locations combined. Central Market has nine. Texas always wins.
Rouse’s 38 locations in Louisiana and Mississippi are renowned for handcrafting andouille, tasso and boudin as well as sponsoring the World Championship Crawfish Eating Contest.
The Piggly Wiggly, somehow, does not make the list.