Grocery Guide

Welcome to Houston TJ: Five of Trader Joe's Best Products

If you haven't been living under a rock, you know Trader Joe's opened up its first Houston location in the historic Alabama Theater this past weekend.

A friend of mine,, a longtime TJ fan, was so excited, she threw a Trader Joe's-themed party -- Hawaiian shirts and all -- Saturday night. The shtick: everything -- food and drinks -- must be purchased from Trader Joe's.

Since I had to brave the store opening weekend anyway, I pushed through hoards of annoyingly slow people took a nice quiet moment to look around and reminisced about my all-time favorite Trader Joe's Products.

Here are, in my humble opinion, Five of TJ's Best Items (salmonella coated Valencia Peanut Butter not included):

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5. Edamame Hummus

It's two of our favorite snacks in one, for only $2.49. TJ's replaces hummus's traditional chickpeas with with green soy beans to make an incredibly smooth, creamy dip mixed with just the right amount of sesame tahini, garlic, lemon juice, blend of oils and sea salt. I like serving it with toasted flatbread, sesame pita chips or crudités.

4. Habanero Hot Sauce

TJ's habanero hot sauce has a really nice kick to it -- a punch of heat followed by a subtle touch of sweetness and hint of garlic. For me, the $2.99 bottle lasts a while, as a little splash of it can go a long way (so I'm a bit of a wimp) -- but even the biggest spice lovers seem to enjoy this one.

3. Organic Wood Fired Sicilian Pizza

As far as frozen pizzas go, this one's pretty top-notch. For starters, the dough comes out light and airy, but still crisp due to a pre-blackened (or wood-fired) crust. Pearls of creamy mozzarella, tangy provolone and roasted red peppers top a sweet marinara sauce. It reminds me of a pizza I'd make at home, so for $4.99, it's a nice shortcut for lazy nights. It even comes with a red pepper flake-infused olive oil to drizzle on for a spicy kick.

2. Almondictive Bits

There is no shortage of chocolate-covered treats at TJ's, and while I haven't met one I didn't like, the Almondictive Bits may just be my favorite. Caramelized almonds are dipped in smooth, slightly bitter dark chocolate, resulting in an addictive combination that is sweet, salty, nutty, and rich all at once. Not bad for $3.99.

1. Two-Buck Chuck

Okay, so at $2.99 per bottle, it's more like three-buck chuck, but I stick with what I know. The infamous Charles Shaw wine, made primarily from California grapes, is priced so low, there's really no harm in picking up a bottle or five just to have on hand. Add a splash of the Cabernet Sauvignon to your next Sunday gravy; use the White Zinfandel to make a sweet peach sangria; and the Shiraz -- it's just perfect for a cheap-ass, dreamy night under the stars. Sure, the wine may be generic, but the price is right.

What are your favorite TJ products? Have you tried any that have been epic fails? Anyone else get a chance to check out the new store?

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano