A Totally Biased Supermarket Ranking

groterystore.jpg
gina pina
I like to oat, oat, oat oapples and banonos.
Within this past week, I've had occasion to visit the supermarket four times at three different stores. While each store offers its own distinct pros and cons, I can't help imagining my own perfect, ideal supermarket experience.

There would be a large, open space with smaller sections therein. There would be the traditional setup of foodstuffs separated into sections. There would be no one in the store. I could get what I wanted, throw money on the floor and leave as quickly as I like.

This construct, however, exists only in my small, feeble mind.

As they are, my local supermarkets each offer their own particular wares in their own particular fashion, and while each has its own charm, some are just a little better than others.

To qualify for this list, only stores inside the Loop will be ranked -- not to be pretentious, that's just where I live. (Okay, it's pretentious.)

5. Fiesta

Maybe I'm a little like Tyrion, who has a soft spot for "cripples, bastards and broken things," but I'd like to think I just have a fondness for the underdog.

When the new H-E-B monstrosity deposited itself upon Montrose in all of its glory, Fiesta's swan song was heard around the community. I always thought they had great produce, a fantastic booze selection and some really great, unique international foods.

Then H-E-B had to come along and effectively put Fiesta out of business.

See? I can't even help but write about Fiesta in the past tense.

Ah...capitalism.

4. Randalls on Shepherd and Westheimer

Two words: Fried Chicken.

'Nuff said.

That's four words, but you get the drift.

3. Whole Foods

Yeah, Whole Foods pisses me off more often than not with all of its self-important pretense. Save the world. Go green. Plug in your hybrid out front.

How was Burning Man last year?

I kid.

All jokes aside, Whole Foods does offer some pretty good seafood selections, and you can get growlers of craft beer for a relatively good price. Don't let the hip, tattooed young employees fool you, though. Remember what Fred Armisen's bike-riding, militant hipster had to say on the matter: "Whole foods is corporate!!"

2. Kroger on W. Gray

Why? It's one minute from my house. No other reason. I never buy seafood from there, their meat is usually suspect and it's always way too packed. They also don't have a very good beer selection, and the last time I was there, the employee stiffed me on my change and talked about getting drunk on Smirnoff Ice the whole time.

A pittance. Convenience is king, baby.

1. H-E-B on W. Alabama

I know, I'm a duplicitous pile of dung, but the H-E-B really is the best. You can't beat the price, you can't beat the selection and you can't beat it for shear immensity. I've never felt cramped in that store, once, and I am prone to claustrophobia.

skeletor_glasses.jpg
Erik Macko
They get minus points for their spokesman looking like the illegitimate love child of Skeletor and Mr. Magoo, but the positives far outweigh the negatives, here.

H-E-B really is the best.



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Location Info

Venue

Map

Fiesta Mart

4200 San Jacinto St., Houston, TX

Category: General

Randalls

2075 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: General

Whole Foods

701 Waugh Drive, Houston, TX

Category: General

Kroger

1938 W. Gray St., Houston, TX

Category: General

H-E-B

1701 W. Alabama St., Houston, TX

Category: General

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29 comments
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'stina
'stina

*ahem*  Trader Joe's is much more useful for Burning Man than Whole Foods.  Much wider selection of pre-packaged (of course, any good Burner knows to throw away the packaging while still in Reno), easy to reheat, boil-in-a-bag type items. 

GlenW
GlenW

I never loved a grocery store until I moved here in 2005 and started going to the Fiesta on Dunlavy. The swan song began when they 'remodeled' the store by getting new carts and shelves. Will miss it. I also like the Fiesta in the Heights near N. Main.Rice Epicurian doesn't get any love?

CanyousaySafeway
CanyousaySafeway

I used to shop at a Foodarama in Mo City 20 years ago.  When I moved west, my longtime Foodarama sacker showed up in my new Randall's on Memorial @ BW8 for a lot of years.  Haven't seen him in a while, mostly because of the HEB at Bunker Hill, but I practically raised the guy.

Janvanpoopypants
Janvanpoopypants

The grocery store nearest to my house is about 50 square meters, aisles slightly wider than you are, and is constantly being restocked in the 1X4 m produce section, and never, ever has bread. EVER. Oh, and everything costs three times what you pay for at Kroger. Because it's in euros, it's in Holland, and all the Dutch are C U Next Tuesdays when it comes to reasonable costs of living. 

And then it's raining outside. 

John
John

Poor guy living in the Netherlands.

WestSideBob
WestSideBob

Just think, a few months from now and the hipsters will be dissing all these stores in favor of TJ's.  How tragic.

Anse
Anse

I'll always love the Fiesta on Studewood and 14th in Heights. It's the anti-Whole Foods. It's like a time capsule from the 1970's; even some of their produce is occasionally, uh, "vintage".

And they play awesome music, I might add.

mollusk
mollusk

The Studewood Fiesta is indeed the greatest convenience store in town, with decent produce....and it's about the only supermarket in this part of town (at least that I'm familiar with) where one can routinely find organ meats and the like.  It also helps that it's the hands down closest to the homestead.

Yumyum
Yumyum

I laugh when I call the Bunker Hill HEB "My HEB".  It truly is my HEB and I actually enjoy shopping there.  The parking lot can be packed but the store is so large that there is plenty of room to get around and they always seem to have enough registers open to handle the crowd.

Facts are fun
Facts are fun

HEB didn't put Fiesta out of business. Fiesta's landlord didn't renew their lease so they could sell the site to apartment developers.

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

I'm also a fan of the BS HEB, and agree the traffic situation sucks at the moment. There are a few products I can only seem to get at HEB Montrose though, so we switch back & forth.

O'long Johnson
O'long Johnson

I would agree, once they finish all of the road construction on Buffalo Speedway. Unless you are coming from South of 59. I plug in my Nissan Leaf there all the time.

S.Regal
S.Regal

Personally, I'm extremely thankful that the W. Alabama HEB put the Fiesta out of business. I was always weary of their clients parking around my neighbourhood. It's best that they stick to the slums of the Heights and Midtown.

Wyatt
Wyatt

I recognize you from past trolling efforts (poor-to-middling). This effort is particularly bad. That parking lot is big and I've never seen it full up. Who goes to a grocery store and parks unnecessarily far away? No "clients" are parking around your "neighbourhood and causing trouble because of Fiesta.

Also, if you think the source of that area's slightly higher crime rate is the Fiesta, you are not observant or have not been living in the area long.

I should stop responding.

Cheflambo
Cheflambo

The reason the H-E-B @ Bunker Hill is so nice is because it is the one closest to Scott McClelland's (president of H-E-B) house.  It is HIS favorite (I've seen him there) and was designed with his specifications in mind.  That's why it is always well stocked, has a decent wine department and you never have to wait to check out.  (and BTW, I got this information from the Manager of the H-E-B in Clear Lake).  My source also tells me that corporate is well aware of the shortcomings of their store at 18th & TC Jester - they are definitely open and always willing to consider a good site for a bigger better store to fulfill the needs of that neighborhood. 

Suhas
Suhas

Call me crazy, but I love the newly refashioned disco Kroger.  No U-Scan and very clear signs all up and down every aisle showing you exactly where everything is. HEB is painful to get around -- no chance of getting the 20 things you need and getting out in a reasonable timeframe. Central Market is even worse in that regard.

Bruce R
Bruce R

No U-Scan?  That sucks.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

I hate those things. They're always beeping at you for doing something incorrectly, then you have to wait on the ONE employee working all 8 scanners to come fix it. I prefer human interaction, thank you.

There is an ANCIENT bagger at Disco Kroger. He is so nice. I like to think I'm keeping him employed by going through the register instead of the U-Scan (when they used to have them).

Ted Stickles
Ted Stickles

What, the Pop n' Squat #2 Food Mart & Tax Service on Reed Rd isn't good enough for you, Sam? Ugh. So bourgeois!

Corey
Corey

Aside from Whole Paycheck Foods, good list. Though I prefer the HEB on Bunker Hill it's less picked over, and they actually have Mexican Coca Cola in stock most of the time.

KAC
KAC

HEB's new stores on Bunker Hill and others are fine. The old ones on Kirkwood and Fountainview have narrow aisles with boxes in the middle of them all the time no matter what time of day you go. I find that highly annoying.

sbterry
sbterry

And the next best thing to HEB - Central Market.  Oh!  But they are owned by the same company!  No wonder they are both wonderful!

AwesomeMargie
AwesomeMargie

HEB on Alabama is the best.  Their pastry/bread section is to die for. Mmmmm....

Jim Ayres
Jim Ayres

Totally agree about HEB on Alabama being the best (deli manager is the nicest guy you'll ever meet) and TOTALLY agree about Randall's Fried Chicken. 

just saying
just saying

I agree with HEB coming out on top.  Also, the hipster employees at Whole Foods are legit--they are super friendly and hook you up.  One of the seafood guys I chat with gave me more king crab than I could eat for free one time when I mentioned I had bought crab there one time that wasn't very fresh.

SirRon
SirRon

The map mistakenly shows the Randalls at Westheimer and Gessner (ACK! OUTSIDE THE LOOP!!1!). After that error is fixed, you can delete this comment so I'm not associated with all the riff raff that is going to weigh in on this senseless post :) 

SirRon
SirRon

It's totally not cool that you guys fixed the map error and left me with all those email notices every time someone says their grocery store is the best/worst. I'll remember that, EOW.

sbterry
sbterry

I totally agree -- HEB is the best in Houston, hands down! 

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