A Tour of the Lake Flato-Designed H-E-B Montrose Market, Open Today

What’s the difference between the new H-E-B Montrose Market on the site of the former Wilshire Village Apartments at the corner of Dunlavy and West Alabama and the Buffalo Market — designed by the same San Antonio architects — the company opened last year? Well, at 75,000 sq. ft., the new store is a bit bigger and has wider aisles, and the site it sits on is a bit more storied. Plus, photographer Candace Garcia notes from her preview tour, the doors on the milk coolers seem more sleek and contemporary. And the new store carries Philosophy skin-care products. Clearly, the Menil influence shows.

In front, below a couple of preserved trees, are several outdoor-eating and gathering options:


Also useful for occasional live music and movies. What happened to all the rest of the trees that used to cover the site? A couple of them now serve as benches:

Yes, if the license comes through you’ll be able to buy wine and beer by the glass and drink it on the patio. Inside, the store’s butterfly roofs leave plenty of room for clerestory windows:

A couple shots of the back of the store, which faces West Alabama — and which looks a bit different from the original design:

Many, many more photos here.

Photos: Candace Garcia

32 Comment

  • I will be there tonight! This place is gorgeous.

  • Went this morning. Its is AWESOME. Far less cramped feeling than Buffalo Market, parking lot was just about full and the store still did not feel crowded. Fiesta will stay, but more like so long Kroger “Fresh Fare”

  • Yay, another new grocery store to try!

    Thoughts on how this will affect Fiesta? Seems to me they serve two distinct markets…

  • Saw in Chronicle, No beer or wine for 4-5 weeks as TABC still hasn’t given a license.

  • Wow – the tree benches seem ironic since they were such a sticking point with the locals pre-construction. It’s classic man vs. nature. As if chopping them down wasn’t enough, you can now excercise your complete dominance of nature by plopping your overweight ass on top of one. But be careful to avoid all the grackle and pigeon shit (from the surviving tree directly overhead).

  • With all due respect, the exterior resembles Johnson’s St. Thomas design moreso than the Menil.

  • Amazing architecture on the exterior. Just gorgeous from every angle. But they really just phoned it in when it came to interior design.

  • I agree the inside seems like an afterthought. I know they’re working with a standard big box formula, but surely you can make it a bit more interesting (and it’s not like there aren’t any interior decorators in the neighborhood).

  • To all the WalMart-defending trolls; the design and execution of this HEB store compared to the total crap that is a typical WalMart is what makes your arguments that we (the anti-WalMart crowd) are hypocrites mute. If WalMart committed even half of the effort and resources into their stores as HEB just did in Montrose, many of us might not object so much to their presence. I still wouldn’t shop there, but I’d care a lot less.

  • I agree with SuperDave re: the sacraficial benches.
    I just picture them vertical. and living. and branching.

  • So, anyone who has shopped there, are the aisles wider than the Buffalo Speedway store?

  • Now if I could just get the moot button on my remote control to work–resolving family disagreements would be a snap.

    (sorry, I have no self-control)

  • Yes, wider aisles – much wider.

    While having a cup of coffee in the cafe’ area this morning, I watched a woman walk around with her laptop looking for an outlet. When she didn’t find one and looked very confused, I suggested it was intentional, that HEB didn’t want people working for hours in the cafe’. She looked even more confused by this and then plugged the cord into the outlet behind the Coke machine and left the cord stretching all the way across the floor. Welcome to Montrose!

  • HEB does great things with their stores. I lived in San Antonio for 5 years. They were, for the most part, really well designed. The one on New Braunfels and Nacogdoches has a huge oak tree growing up out of the produce department through the roof. All over town, you can see the empty shells of Krogers, Albertson’s, Handy Andy’s, etc. All victims of not doing what HEB does so well, listening to its customers. It will eventually happen here.

  • From Jon:

    “To all the WalMart-defending trolls; the design and execution of this HEB store compared to the total crap that is a typical WalMart is what makes your arguments that we (the anti-WalMart crowd) are hypocrites mute.”

    Actually, Jon, this really proves the point of the Walmart defenders perfectly. For all of the highbrow sniffling about Walmart’s (and their customers’) crass over-consumption, the fawning over the grand opening of this HEB, combined with the orgasmic breathlessness of the Whole Foods a few months back, show that the anti-Walmart crowd is an even bigger consumer…and therefore bigger hypocrite…than the nastiest Walmart shopper. Walmart shoppers are buying necessities. They do not glorify their consumption by insisting on a fancy store with a cafe and wine bar. They just want their stuff and go…cheap.

    By contrast, the conspicuous over-consumption engaged at HEB and Whole Foods is done while condemning anyone who doesn’t, or can’t afford to, buy the fancily named merchandise at these stores. At their core, both Walmart and HEB/Whole Foods are retail stores. All 3 have huge parking lots that meet City of Houston code. All are stocked with merchandise trucked by 18 wheeled tractor trailers. The difference is that Walmart shoppers do not brag about it on Twitter, Facebook…and Swamplot.

  • Did you mean the Wilshire Village HEB?

  • mute/moot


  • Dave,

    You are missing the point. Just drive by this HEB and compare how this site was built against any wal mart you’ve ever driven by.

  • Yes to #13 for Comment of the Day
    I want my moot TV!

  • Anybody else remember the old montrose HEB? About 15 years ago there was an HEB market on the corner of westheimer/yoakum, which now houses specs & half price books. It was small and a bit scuzzy, like the spunky kid sister of disco kroger. i was sad to see it go.

  • I toured the thing yesterday–except for the sushi counter, it felt like i was in the kingwood walmart–too big, too antiseptic, too full of MILFs in designer track suits.

    anyone who opens a grocery store in montrose minus a fully functional beer and wine section (even temporarily) hasn’t done their homework–VIVA FIESTA!!

  • What’s wrong with MILFs in designer track suits? VIVA MILFS!

  • M. Martin – I think they’re waiting for their license to “serve” beer and wine by the glass, not sell it by the bottle/case, etc.

  • This is one of the greatest moments for Lower Montrose, especially when we develop the east side of HEB with what we hope will be high rise residential living. Considering that there are no enforceable deed restrictions in the area, we believe that much of that area will be perfect for new development. And the local civic associations are helping with this.

  • More precisely, it would be MILFS wearing their Lululemon…

  • John,
    I’m no Wal-Mart snob but I can’t buy 50-gallon plastic storage bins (to store all my other crap that I bought from Wal-Mart that are either broken or unwanted) at HEB or Whole Foods. You might be confusing over-priced products at Whole Foods with the over-consumed products at Wal-Mart. Granted, I need stores like Wal-Mart and Target to get my disposable toasters, garbage bags, and vacuum cleaners but by getting my groceries at Whole Foods, I don’t consume any more than I would at Wal-Mart. In fact, I waste a lot less food at home since it’s so much more damn expensive.

  • Mighty peaceful in the Kirby Whole Foods…

  • i think the walmart comment was more in line with the level of investment they put into their stores compared to HEB.

    however, it’s an empty argument. i’ve been to HEB’s elsewhere and in less desirable parts of houston that are pure crap. HEB is targeting the whole food competition here so naturally they can afford to spend a lot of money on a store that will be stocked with higher margin products.

    that kind of level of investment just isn’t scalable. you’re not going to find an average small business owner with the funds to build some fancy art inspired building, that’s why there’s such a huge market for cheap and ugly strip centers. same thing with big box stores, they’re competing on high volume and low margin and can’t compete (thus exist to provide jobs) with higher margin competitors on nice stores.

    if you want to complain about aesthetics though, the conversation should start and stop with how little we fund public investment and how we end up with an abundance of crappy services that are necessary and a vast amount of non-descript disposable buildings.

  • I think joel nailed it.

  • I love this current architectural style that is especially prevalent in commercial buildings. I don’t think we’ve seen something like this since Moderne in the 30s-40s. These structures will represent these early 21st century decades for a long t…well, at least until they’re demolished in 20 years.

  • The Buffalo HEB carries Philosophy, too. Not that it’s something super fantastic or anything, but I just thought it worth mentioning that carrying that product isn’t something that makes the new Alabama location stand out. Now if they have an even larger aisle of nail polish and a bigger assortment of cosmetics to rival Buffalo, then I might be impressed….