Now Collecting Your Nominations for Houston Grocery Store of the Year

This is it: The next-to-last category in this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. So far, we’ve opened nominations for Neighborhood of the Year, Most Overappreciated Neighborhood, Most Underappreciated Neighborhood, The “Only in Houston” Award, Best Teardown of the Year, Best Vacancy, and Favorite Houston Design Cliché.

What is it with Houstonians and their grocery stores? We dunno, but how about we bring it all to the fore in the battle for the award in our 8th category: Grocery Store of the Year. Which of the greater Houston area’s many fine coupon-accepting, candy-and-gum-displaying, veggie-bagging establishments deserves this title — and why? (Yes, the award is meant for an individual store, not a company.)

If you’re new to the Swampies, be sure to read the official nominating rules. We need your smart, succinct nominations! Add them in a comment below or send them to us in a private email. If you’ve got photos to contribute, send them too. Let the grocery wars begin! Or . . . continue!

28 Comment

  • Sorry Heights Kroger, you’re taking too long.

    Whole Foods, Yuppie Market, you’re prices are wack.

    Bunker Hill HEB ftw.

  • Hands down – Central Market!

  • I’d vote for Central Market as store of the year…
    And the disappointment of the year goes to HEB on Buffalo – they had a good start for a month and then went down from there. They don’t have a real single path through the store, so people are just wandering around and creating traffic jams instead of “flowing” through start to end. It’s not rocket science – could have looked at Central Market or even IKEA. Also the prices are hit and miss even when compared to Central Market – some stuff cheaper, some – more expensive.

  • HEB Bunker Hill, no question. It is far superior to the Buffalo one and has everything one can want in an american grocery store.

    What has CM done in the last year to be the best of the year? Change the eating area, that is about it.

  • Central Market. 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.

  • HEB, they pretty much all rock. This is coming from someone who wishes there was one closer by. I love you HEB!! Don’t you want to come live by the sea?!

  • HEB Bunker Hill all the way Best grocery store I’ve ever shopped at. I look forward all week to my Friday post work shopping outage… cheap therapy for me!

  • I actually find it infuriating to shop at Central Market and IKEA. 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. On another note, I can’t decide between Foodarama and HEB Pantry on Ella and 18th. If this award is for the most disgusting and filthy facility, then I shall cast my votes for those two stores.

  • Hands down, the winner has to be Vanessa’s Liquor at the corner of I-45 and Wayside, which opened earlier this year in Orr Commercial’s new strip center.
    What? Tequila *is too* a grocery.

  • djc,

    I don’t shop at IKEA, but 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…

  • H Mart. Great prices, fresh fish and superior entertainment value.

  • If it was still around…JMH in West U. :-( As it stands, though, I’ll spring for Central Market. Agreed with Random Poster…if you know where you’re going, you can be in and out in no time flat. Only slightly ashamed to say I know CM like the back of my hand.

  • Kroger on 43rd and Ella. Becasue you can get things like tasso ham and different kinds of Andouille sausage that you can’t get at other places. This includes you, Central Market, and you River Oaks Kroger. They stock things at that store that are a nod to the neighborhood’s culinary roots, and they should be lauded for doing so.

    Honrable mention to BW Meat Co. on Shepherd for their insane selection of old-school cuts of meat and awe-inspiring Moon Pie display. The have produce and dry goods, so I guess I want to officially nominate them too. Where else can you get your pickeld 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. That place rocks.

  • DISCO KROGER on Montrose! The best, especially for those of us old Montrose folks who have been around for a while.
    At Christmas time we can go there around midnight and some evenings and sing Christmas carols over the loud speaker. Its a hoot!

  • Any of the many Hollywood Stores.

  • Disco Kroger all the way, exactly the size a grocery needs to be.

  • If you’re ever down south I recommend the HEB on Blackhawk/South Beltway. It has always been clean and easy to get through and has MUCH less screaming children than Gulfgate!

  • If nothing else Disco Kroger has the best markdowns in the city. And apparently is fun at midnight on Christmas Eve. I guess I’ll go to Kroger instead of midnight mass this year.

  • Many of the stores mentioned here did not open or were not renovated in 2009. Vanessa’s Liquor did, however.

  • HEB Bunker Hill. I work out west and stop by at 6 AM on the way to work. Easy access off and on I-10. Great selection. Great prices. There is always visible security persons patroling the parking lot. I wish we had an HEB like that in the Heights area.

  • CM is hard to beat, but they’re prices aren’t. The HEB at Bunker Hill is near my office and is 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.

    I read someone above bashing the Foodarama and old HEB at 18th & Ella/TC Jester. That HEB is a rathole in an oddball, unexpandable location and I’m sure will eventually be closed. On the other hand, the Foodarama was renovated several years ago and, for an old store, it’s pretty clean. The staff is friendly and helpful, as well as the mngmt. The low prices are what really sets Foodarama apart. 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 HEB or CM.

    I worked for years in high school and college in a very successful grocery store. I am very watchful and critical of what I encounter at a grocery store.

    I used to love the Fiesta at Blalock and I-10 before they closed it due to the loss of a big chunk of their parking lot. That was disappointing, but I’m sure they knew HEB was going to be moving into the hood with their Bunker Hill store. Now I just wish I could convince Louis the president to find an appropriately priced spot near Fiesta’s home office to put a Fiesta serving the Washington Avenue corridor.

    My vote for best nice store for overall value and selection: HEB – Bunker Hill. My vote for best clean, friendly, inner loop value priced basic grocer: Foodarama 18th & Ella.

  • Thank you Lauren!! I thought I would be the only one to sing the praises of the HEB on Blackhawk and the Beltway. That store 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, in my opinion. Decent beer/wine selection for a grocery store, too, especially in its area.
    What makes this store so special is that it is a beacon of quality food in a desert of crap, for lack of a better word (it’s friday at 5, I got nuthin.) There is no comparable store within a 20 minute drive of the place, unless maybe you get into the better parts of pearland. As someone who lives near Hobby and likes diverse fresh food, I thank my lucky stars that HEB opened this store in this location. And while this is not unique to this store, anyone else think the tortillerias in HEB stores are awesome? MMmmmmmm, tortillas…

  • Disco Kroger, just because I know that grocery store better than any other in the city. However, things aren’t always super-fresh…

    I’d also vote any HEB. The one on Buffalo is great if you go during the weekdays, but is such a headache during prime-time. Seriously, they should not have to control parking lot traffic with segways.

  • Nobody has mentioned it but Phonecia Market is pretty comprehensive and reasonably priced. 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…

  • I forgot about Phoenicia Market. It should definitely be in the running.

  • heb bunker hill with one exception – the morons who shop there! seriously, why pool carts together and treat this place like social hour? i can’t get past you and it makes me want to throw a sample plate of chili at your face. maybe next time i will.

    this place has amazing selection, great fresh food, fills my belly with samples and the lines are quick. i am NOT a fan of central market, because i enjoy buying things full of red dye and high fructose corn syrup along with my organic fruit and fresh meat and heb 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.

  • I would vote for the Kroger on 11th and Shepherd since they have expanded it is even better than that small cramped store they had there before and the Food-A-Rama is also a good choice. Those would be my two votes