Smaller selection than previously, but still fun
Posted on 07 / 18 / 2009
I'm a Midwestern transplant who's used to shopping at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, so I was thrilled to discover the upscale shopping experience known as Central Market.
Central Market features food and beverage imports from around the globe (beer, wine, cheeses, meats, produce, grocery), a large selection of bulk foods, including organic beans, rice, whole grains, dried fruits, spices, and coffee beans, dietary supplements, health and beauty, eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and more. Looking for authentic Greek yogurt? Check. Umeboshi? Check. Quince preserves from Spain? Check. You can also pick up European kitchen wares, gorgeous fresh flowers, a stunning assortment of prepared hot and cold entrees and sides to go (CM also caters), and even enroll in cooking classes.
This is the most complete all-in-one shopping destination that I've found, and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan-friendly options both in packaged grocery and the deli (items are labeled as veg or vegan). If you're on a gluten-free diet, Central Market also has a large assortment of GF baking mixes, crackers, snack foods, and more.
Like other victims of the recession, Central Market has noticably downsized by removing / widening aisles and cutting back on the once-hefty selection of imported and hard-to-find goods. The organic produce section is fairly small, and sometimes I get fresher organic produce at my local HEB Plus. I've had several bad experiences with buying the packaged organic greens; despite being used before the date, there were slimy, wilted greens in several boxes (perhaps this was a storage issue?).
But despite the reduced selection, it's still a fun place to shop and pick up unique eco-friendly gifts and great groceries. If you're looking for more unusual produce, you'll likely find it here (recent examples include white asparagus, chayote squash, strawberry papayas, and fresh lychees).
selection of bulk foods, gifts / cards, prepared foods / bakery
price, small selection of organic produce