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.)
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.
Two words: Fried Chicken.
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?
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!!"
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.
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.
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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.