Country legend George Strait once sang that all his exes lived in Texas, so he hung his hat in Tennessee. He may have changed his tune, though, if he knew about Central Market. The grocery store is only found in Texas and it very well may be worth putting up with any number of annoying exes to be able to pick up groceries there.
H-E-B opened the first Central Market on Austin’s North Lamar in 1994, and since then the unique food emporium has become a destination of sorts. Not only has the store has been the go-to grocer for Texans in the know for over 20 years, but a foodie mecca for visitors passing through. Not only does Central Market have an array of healthier food items, fresh meat, hard-to-find produce, and Southern favorites, but they keep costs down by offering a wide selection of bulk items and their own Central Market Organics line.
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Not only will Central Market sell you the coconut milk, carrots, and king crab, but they tell you how to cook it, too. They have a well-regarded cooking school that offers everything from tastings to visits by cookbooks authors, demonstrations by world-famous chefs, and hands-on classes. (Bean to bar chocolate? Don’t mind if we do!)
Central Market is a great destination, even if you don’t feel like cooking or grocery shopping at all. Many of their outposts have on-site restaurants that serve up excellent lunches and dinners and coffee shops that serve their own in-house roasted coffee. Sip a cup while listening to the live bands that get the supermarket arockin’ from time to time.
While that other Austin-based healthy food store, Whole Foods, has taken over the country, Central Market remains a Texas-only phenomenon with nine locations polka dotting across the state. That is a shame. As Food and Wine notes, “This is the store that Texas should have exported.” Hopefully the powers that be at H-E-B are considering it.