Random Ephemera

Houston's Best Grocery Shopping

Phoenicia Foods conveyor belt of pita.
Phoenicia Foods conveyor belt of pita. Photo by Phaedra Cook
It's that special time again, time for the Houston Press to round up some of its top food and drink coverage of the recent past. This time we're talking all things groceries, from upscale spots that specialize in artisan cheese and kombucha to cheaper gems where fajita meat and affordable produce prevail.

Hey, Pocky way
Photo by Phaedra Cook
The 10 Best Grocery Stores in Houston

Proud Houstonians love bragging about this multicultural city, and that aspect is just as evident in the grocery stores as it is in the restaurants. Look hard enough and just about any ingredient can be found here. This list of the best grocery stores includes not only the mainstream ones, but Mediterranean, Mexican, Indian, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese markets, too. The challenge isn’t finding products. It’s not blowing the grocery budget in a city full of culinary temptations.

"Aisle 9" of 99 Ranch Market can seem intimidating, but it's full of awesome Asian snacks.
Photo by Cuc Lam
Asian Market Know-How: Six Awesome Asian Snacks

The larger Asian markets have snack aisles filled with an abundance of interesting products with wacky names. Don’t let the names scare you. Wrapped in bright, colorful packaging with Chinese, Korean and Japanese characters splattered across the bags are hidden treasures of sweet, sour and savory flavors.

Of all the Houston-area Asian grocery stores, 99 Ranch Market offers the most variety when it comes to snacks and baked goodies. Here are six tasty ones to buy next time you find yourself wandering down the snack aisle.

Diving into weirdo snacks.
Photo by Ellie Sharp
Scavenging the Frozen Food Aisle in Houston for the Unusual and the Exotic

Most days, my evening kitchen is bubbling and sizzling away with the sounds and aromas of a healthy, planned-out dinner composed of thoughtfully paired starches and proteins. Salads share space with grilled meats, fresh sandwiches and sundry produce selections.

Some days, however, I get a wrinkle in my metaphorical chef’s hat and instead of a square meal, I just want food fast — but not fast food. When these cravings strike, notions of calories, sodium and artificial flavors become a non-issue, having been replaced by curiosity, negligence and even a trimmed budget since spending a lot on unproven eats is something I approach somewhat cautiously. Enter the frozen food aisle of the grocery store and its inevitable scavenger hunt of culinary adventures waiting to be discovered and, one hopes, enjoyed.
Photo by Mai Pham
Five Reasons to Visit the New HMart in Chinatown

For the past several months, the grocery store last known as AA Supermarket, located behind popular Chinatown restaurant Sinh Sinh, has been showing signs of transition. Inside, the produce was fresher, the products on the shelves looked more like what you’d find in a Korean store, and the in-house food labels read “HMart.”
Drone delivery?
Photo courtesy of Houston Press
Amazon Buys Whole Foods: What's Next for Houston?

The Philistines had David vs. Goliath. The Japanese had Mothra vs. Godzilla. And Americans in the 21st century will obviously have Amazon vs. Walmart. Yes, the fight to bring drone-delivered quinoa to your gated community while the peasants in the drought-wasteland beyond survive off of years of old swimming-pool water and the occasional sandworm seems nigh. That's because Amazon, online retail giant and plotter of world marketplace domination, has just purchased Whole Foods.
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Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.