Let’s talk about… Austin grocery stores!
So generally I’m a Central Market girl. Of course I love Whole Foods too, but it’s a little pricier and more of an ordeal, plus I live super close to the CM on North Lamar so it’s much more convenient than journeying all the way down to 6th & Lamar for my groceries. I’m also a huuuge advocate of the Flag Store and make sure to patronize it for all my kombucha, craft beer, and novelty ice cream needs (mostly the kombucha – they have a great selection of my very favorite, Kosmic Kombucha).
These days, though, there’s a new contender in town – the H-E-B at Mueller! Say whaaaa? H-E-B?! I’m not kidding. Have you checked this place out? It’s gorgeous and has – dare I say it? – the best wine selection in town. I mean, it’s basically a Central Market (which, as you probably know, is owned by H-E-B anyway). I kind of wonder why they didn’t just label it as a Central Market. I think they wanted to stick with their most easily recognizable brand, plus make its offerings accessible to everyone who lives in the area by offering more than only organic/health-focused goods. (Case in point, yesterday I was able to purchase organic ground bison meat and UT-edition orange Jell-O with special Longhorn-shaped jiggler molds. Hook ’em!)
If you’re not familiar with Mueller, it was originally the name of a mixed-use community in northeast central Austin, but now most people just use the term to refer to the general area/neighborhood. It’s really close to my hood, Hyde Park – just a hop, jump, and skip across Airport and I-35. The Mueller H-E-B is right on 51st – kind of hard to miss. I keep forgetting to snap a pic of its outside, but here’s one I ganked from the City-Data.com forums:
One of the coolest things you’ll notice right as you get inside the store is the “Café Mueller” on the right. You can order healthy meals at the counter and eat them in a little seating area or out on their cute patio. Even more impressively, Café Mueller also offers local craft beers on tap and you can order a pint or to-go growler. There’s also a nice selection of wine by the glass or bottle. My friends and I keep joking that we’re going to hit up the Mueller H-E-B for a post-work happy hour one of these days. (It’s not actually that big of a joke, we’re gonna do it!) Rob and I got a growler of (512) IPA for the Labor Day barbecue we went to yesterday and it was a painless and affordable process. Yeah!
One of the tell-tale signs of a good grocery store, to me, is the cheese selection. It’s so disappointing when I’m looking forward to picking out a good aged gouda or something, and all a store has is one of those “specialty cheese” center kiosks with like one container of crumbled feta and some Babybels. You know what I’m talking about, right? Anyway, this H-E-B has its own cheese shop area. Cheeeeeeese.
What goes well with cheese? Wine, OBVIOUSLY. And like I said, Mueller H-E-B boasts an impressive abundance of vino in all varieties and price ranges. I really do think this is the biggest and broadest wine selection I’ve seen in any local grocery store.
I’m getting overwhelmed just looking at it!
Next time you’re in the area, give the new Mueller H-E-B a try instead of one of your usual haunts. Besides the awesome wine, cheese, and café/bar, they have pretty much anything a your average grocery store would have. (I will say their organics/naturals section is a little lacking – I guess that’s why it’s an H-E-B and not a CM though!) All in all, a very exciting and worthwhile addition to the ultra-quickly-growing northeast Austin region.