Grocery Store of the Year: Vote for One of These Official Nominees

The next-to-last category in the 2009 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate is Grocery Store of the Year. You made the nominations. Now let’s pick a winner!

If you need instructions on voting for one of the official nominees below, go ahead and read them. If you don’t want to add your vote in a comment below, you can get it to us by email. And remember this year you can also vote — a second time via Twitter! All voting must end by 5 pm on Monday, December 28th.

The nominees for Houston Grocery Store of the Year are:


1. Bunker Hill H-E-B, 9710 Katy Fwy. “Generally a well stocked, very nice high end store with some reasonable prices. Their prices are not as inexpensive as some of the other HEB stores with less overhead.”

“Has everything one can want in an American grocery store.”

“I look forward all week to my Friday post-work shopping outing…cheap therapy for me!”

“I enjoy buying things full of red dye and high fructose corn syrup along with my organic fruit and fresh meat and H-E-B Bunker Hill makes everyone happy. Plus, I-10 is so easy to navigate these days that it hardly feels as out of the way as it is.”

2. Central Market, 3815 Westheimer, Highland Village. “This store should be an automatic winner in this category every year. They don’t need to change anything when it’s already done right.”

“Hard to beat, but their prices aren’t.”

“I actually find it infuriating to shop there. I imagine cows get the same feeling when they’re herded into their pens. The setup is poor if you have to run in quick and grab a few things.”

“I don’t think the layout at Central Market is all that poor if you utilize the various shortcuts to get to where you want to go. With a little advance planning, you can be in and out of Central Market in five minutes or less.”

3. H Mart, 1302 Blalock, Spring Branch. “Great prices, fresh fish, and superior entertainment value.”

Amazing food court, unique produce, an entire section dedicated to kimchi, good piped-in music. I like the size of the store too.”

4. Kroger, 1352 West 43rd St., Oak Forest. “Because you can get things like tasso ham and different kinds of Andouille sausage that you can’t get at other places. They stock things that are a nod to the neighborhood’s culinary roots, and they should be lauded for doing so.”

5. B&W Meat Co., 4801 North Shepherd, Shepherd Park Plaza. “Insane selection of old-school cuts of meat and awe-inspiring Moon Pie display. Where else can you get your pickled pork rib tips and greens in one stop? Not to mention smoked turkey necks, or oxtails? And they have the best shortribs in the city.”

6. Kroger, 3300 Montrose Blvd., Montrose. “At Christmas time we can go to Disco Kroger around midnight and some evenings and sing Christmas carols over the loudspeaker. It’s a hoot!”

“The best markdowns in the city. I guess I’ll go to Kroger instead of midnight mass this year.”

“Exactly the size a grocery needs to be.”

7. H-E-B Blackhawk, 9828 Blackhawk Blvd., Southbridge. “A beacon of quality food in a desert of crap. There is no comparable store within a 20 minute drive of the place, unless maybe in the better parts of Pearland. Anyone else think the tortillerias in HEB stores are awesome?”

“The H-E-B on the South Beltway has NEVER failed me, no matter what I’m planning to cook. It is well organized, clean, and has very high quality and good selection of produce, meats, international/unique fare. And prices are good. Decent beer/wine selection for a grocery store, too, especially in its area.”

“Clean and easy to get through. Plus, it has MUCH less screaming children than Gulfgate!”

8. Foodarama at 18th and Ella, 1805 Ella Blvd., Timbergrove Manor. “Best clean, friendly, Inner Loop value priced basic grocer. Renovated several years ago. For an old store, it’s pretty clean. The staff is friendly and helpful, as well as the management. Low prices. If you pay attention to the weekly sale ads, they beat any decent grocer out there. Now mind you, you’re not going to find gourmet items there, but for staple food items, including many meats, dairy and produce, they have exceptional value. For instance, I bought two nice Boston butt pork roasts at Foodarama last week for $0.59/lb to make tamales with. Try finding that at any H-E-B or CM.”

9. Phoenecia Specialty Foods, 12141 Westheimer Rd., Westchase. “Who can beat beautiful, freshly baked pita floating down from the ceiling into bags, then into your cart? And only $1.25 for 6?? Get outta here… Pretty comprehensive and reasonably priced.”

“Grocery store, restaurant, Mediterranean-foods big-box store and culinary travel experience in one. I found canned fava beans in 6 or so different regional Arab-state varieties. Who knew?”

10. Vanessa’s Liquor, 5819 Gulf Fwy., Sunnyland. “Opened earlier this year in Orr Commercial’s new strip center on the I-45 feeder at Wayside. What? Tequila is too a grocery.”

Which one
of these establishments should be named Swamplot’s 2009 Grocery Store of the Year? Add your vote!

Photos: The Phoenix Group (H-E-B Bunker Hill, Central Market), H Mart, Swamplot inbox (43rd St. Kroger, B&W Meat, H-E-B Blackhawk, Foodarama, Vanessa’s), Lian Chang (Montrose Kroger; license), Kaleb Fulgham (Phoenicia; license)

46 Comment

  • Central Market.

    The obvious reason why Central Market is the winner is because it is the original “new-style” grocery store. All of these new HEBs and Krogers are simply borrowing from Central Market’s layout with their ready-made deli section, sushi bars, salad bars, etc. Central Market did it first and they still do it best. Their wine selection and abundance of excellent free samples only add to the dominance.

  • H-Mart!

    Jinkies, that place is awesome and I can get awesome canned coffee drinks, with cane sugar (no high fructose corn syrup) for super cheap! Forget all those conventional grocery stores, imported is where it’s at

  • Disco Kroger. More entertainment than is legal in most states.

  • Phoenecia. If you haven’t had their filet mignon, you are not yet alive.

  • Central Market hands down! An unparallelled selection of merchandise with the requisite high prices that manage to keep out the unwashed and unruly riff-raff that make grocery shopping a chore anywhere else.

  • Central Market. Grocery shopping is not one of my favorite activities, but I actually enjoy it at CM.

  • B & W Meat. After all, this is Texas…

  • I am overwhelmed by CM and the big HEB’s, underwhelmed by most Krogerses. Kroger is like underwear — every day, nothing to get too excited about. I guess CM is like fancy lingerie, if I want to beat the poor simile to death. Kinda surprised that Whole Foods and Fiesta didn’t make the cut given how many people are always in those places. I’ll go ahead and vote for the Oak Forest Kroger — having the local specialties is a nice touch for a chain.

  • I love Central Markets selection of fruits and veggies.

  • Oak Forest Kroger. I find myself driving by Kroger’s “temple to remodeling” on Shepherd and 11th to get to W. 43rd and Ella. It’s got what you need.

  • Blackhawk HEB – love the phrase “a beacon of quality food in a desert of crap.”

  • I have a soft spot in my heart for the Foodarama. Very nice folks working there, and it is right by my gym. Plus the name alone is worth an award.

    CM is truly infuriating. No parking, rude customers, bizarre floorplan. Not a place to go for the everyday supplies and staples.

    Bunker Hill HEB ticked me off Saturday with no frozen turkeys under 18 pounds and no Pepperidge Farms cubed white bread stuffing mix to be found. Arrrggghhh…. (I am a little obsessive about my holiday feasts!)

  • H MART!!!

  • Don’t think my beloved HEB at Blackhawk will get the votes to win, but chalk up another one for it.

  • Although it wasn’t nominated, I’m voting for the HEB that recently opened on Buffalo Speedway. The opening of this store brought the battle between Kroger and HEB to the public’s attention, especially since there is a Kroger directly across Buffalo Speedway from this HEB. Let the coupon wars begin.

  • I cast my vote for the Foodarama. I love shopping at CM, but limit it because no matter what my food budget it, I am frugal. I really do enjoy the new Bunker Hill HEB, but their prices are elevated over other HEB prices as is their CM. Rarely, have I come across the small town hospitality regularly displayed by the daytime check-out personnel at Foodarama. It may not be the best place to buy everything, but no store is. For inner loop grocery shopping, Foodarama is the friendly, clean, budget shopping leader.

  • #6 Montrose Kroger’s. That’s where I buy my beer!

  • As much as the Oak Forest Kroger has done to elevate my opinion of the chain, I have to vote Super H Mart all the way. It has a truly amazing selection of produce, all beautiful and reasonably priced. No asian market fish smell from their clean, shiny seafood counter(s). Ramen galore. And a killer food court where you can get Korean soups and some garlic fried chicken from Toreore. Yum!

  • B&W. Those people know meat more than anyone else knows anything else.

  • Phoenicia all the way – I couldn’t live with out olive paste, rose water and all the euorpean, asian and middle eastern food there! Oh and the prices are fair and the selection on fresh veggies and exelent cuts of meat are wonderful for the budding chef in your kitchen

  • Phoenecia Specialty Foods – absolutely best fresh ww bread for price, best selections, great location, good prices, and outstanding atmosphere!

  • I wish I could vote for the Kroger on 43rd but I was robbed there a few weeks after Ike (all that cash they tell you to have on hand gone forever when my wallet was plucked from my purse while their rent-a-cop stood in the parking lot sucking on a juicebox) so I just dont have a good feeling about that place. But it IS a good store.

    Central Market is still my favorite store, but not on the weekend. I refuse to deal with the parade of families with little kids that cram the aisles and the clueless tourists who hover around the coffee bar. Their new ready-to-cook dept. (everything you need to prepare a meal, back in the veggie section) is quite handy, and their cheese selection is impressive.

  • foodarama, too much snobbishness(a word?) at central market! and I hate hate hate the h-e-b- on buffalo speedway much rather go to the kroger with its huge aisles and decent shoppers. a note: why does no one say “excuse me” when walking right in front of you obstructing your view?

  • Disco Kroger.

  • I’m surprised to not see the new 99 Ranch Market that opened up in the old Fiesta off of I10 and Echo Lane, a stones throw from the new HEB nominated on Bunker Hill. An amazing selection of fruits, organics at 1/2 to 1/3 the price of the chains, the largest butcher shop and fresh seafood department I’ve ever seen in one store (there isn’t any part of any animal not available for consumption, as well as a great Korean restaurant, bakery and an extensive selection of Asian and European items. Price isn’t their forte when it comes to everyday American foodstuffs, but I doubt the prices are higher than you’d find at a Rice Epicurean. The meats are as quality as I’ve seen anywhere.

  • phoenicia.

    i get teary eyed walking in there. i swear they have the return air vents placed directly above the spice aisle. the smell of them almost knocks across the head like a 2×4 when you walk in the door. and who doesn’t love a good pita conveyor belt?

  • Oak Forest Kroger, because I can walk there.

  • I nominated Vanessa’s Liquor because I had a funny line to go with it and because I wanted to poke fun at all the riff raff that kept harping on the fanciest and most expensive stores (or Disco Kroger, which hasn’t done anything in 2009 to deserve an award)…but that was only because I forgot about Phoenicia.
    I’m voting for Phoenicia.

  • Oak Forest Kroger gets my vote. Good music, wide aisles, beautiful produce and a great bakery. Most of the people who shop there are really friendly and polite and all of the checkout lanes are open on the busy shopping days.

  • Gotta be Phoenicia. Every variety of olive you could ever dream of, and great prices on everything from papaya to goat cheese to baklava to smoked salmon to roasted red peppers to olive oil to halvah to spices to ginger paste to feta cheese, etc., etc., etc.

  • Another vote for Phoenicia—the Friday date spot with my 3-year-old.

  • Bunker Hill HEB!

  • Okay .. I have had Phoenicia on my to do list for a while. But a pita bread roller coaster, multiple variaties of olives processed in creative ways, smoked seafood and new spices to play with? It is now a must do before the end of 2009. I love to ring in the new year with something, well, new! (PS you had me at feta and goat cheese!)

  • H-Mart

    Best housewares section – where else can you get a refrigerator made just for storing your Kimchee and choose from over 2 dozen rice cookers?

    Plus extra bonus points for the best girl watching of any grocery store!

  • Definitely Phoenicia: because it opens your your imagination…

  • Love the new HEB at Bunker Hill! My favorite place to stop after work.

    Central Market drives me nuts. Hate the parking.

  • I stop at the Bunker Hill HEB on my way back forth from work and I wish there was a similar store near my home. However Phoenicia gets my vote.

  • I have to vote for Phoenicia. They have the best pistachio cookies.

  • Though I just recently discovered how great Phoenicia is, my vote has to go to Foodarama. I base this vote on the Beechnut Foodarama, but it sounds like it shares the same advantages as the other…. So cheap and friendly- and they are never out of Topo Chico….

  • What about Canino’s or the market behind it??? That’s the best shopping in Houston.

  • 3300 Montrose, Mary Kroger, Disco Kroger. Where else can you bump into your favorite drag queen while watching homeless youths trip on acid?

  • I am really over Central Market. Though it does have variety, the costs far out weigh the novelty of imported canned goods. There is also the lack of sense of it being part of the community.

    Kroger, Oak Forest, does manage to cater to more sophisticated tastes to a degree, but it also carries basics. This Kroger on 43rd feels a part of the Oak Forest neighborhood, and that is something most chain supermarkets (including most Krogers) fall short on, being a part of the community.

  • I vote for the liquor store…so TheNiche can be vindicated in their nomination, and I’m a sot who appreciates my enabling retailers.

  • Central Market (though I’m completely baffled as to why the new HEB on Buffalo Speedway isn’t listed!!)

Comments are closed.