Houston >Food Stores > Central Market
3815 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX | Directions 7702729.741075 -95.443376
Neighborhoods: Central, Afton Oaks/ River Oaks
Best grocery superstore in Houston – It’s easy to write about things you love, so beware of superlatives in this review, because I LOVE Central Market. One of the largest grocery superstores in Houston, Central Market carries just about everything I need to live on and then some. From the freshest meats and produce, to obscure French and Italian condiments, to a cheese section that boggles the mind, to the bakery that rivals any boulangerie, to kitchen cutlery and accessories, Central Market is home to a mind-boggling number of things large and small, designed to help feed you and your family very well. The fruits and vegetables are such high quality, they can sit in my fridge for over a week and still taste like I just bought it. The deli has one of the best selections of pate in town, from mousse foie gras to your basic pate champagne, and the food-to-go section is as close as I can get to Harrod’s in Houston. The “love dip” is amazing and the made to order California Connection sandwich is an addiction that has me happily enslaved. The dining area and patio allows you to sample your gourmet eats and if you come on a weekend, you can peruse all the sample stands and try everything from the freshest apples to their freshly ground coffee, to a hot off the often piece of baked bread. Make no mistake folks, there is no place in Houston like Central Market and you are lucky to be in the midst of its splendorous existence.
Some items are overpriced but as a whole this is my favorite grocery store
Great shopping, but not as good as the north Austin original – I lived in Austin for two years, and I was lucky enough to live within walking distance of the original Central Market on North Lamar there. It may be unfair, but I only give 4 stars to the Houston Central Market, as I am comparing it to the one I frequented in Austin (which I would give 5 stars!).
Don't get me wrong, Central Market on Westheimer is great. They almost always have what I need, including a decent beer selection, and it is far cheaper in my opinion than Whole Foods or Rice Epicurean. However, Central Market has one major shortcoming compared to the original location: it does not have a cafe! I know putting one in would be a major infrastructure project, but they certainly have the room (my guess is that the Houston location is larger than the north Austin one).
My other complaint is that the parking, while there are always spaces, is awful. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to have one-way lanes throughout was dead wrong. Recently I was stuck behind someone for nearly 10 minutes!
All that said, I believe Whole Foods and Rice Epicurean have nothing on Central Market, and I will definitely keep going back for the bread, bulk coffee, and Dinners for Two, but I won't be increasing my star rating until they decide to put in a cafe like the oustanding one at the Austin original.
If they don't have it... Good luck finding it in Houston! – Place has almost everything. Prices are a little high but you can't expect cheap when they serve up the highest quality.
Whenever I'm in the area I try to go in and just walk around. It's like the Disneyland of Food!
Houston's gourmet market mecca – It may not quite be Galaries Lafayette, but, that'll do pig; and plenty of pig they have as one of the only importers of Spanish jabugo ham, said to be the best in the world (by myself AND other experts).
Central Market wraps you in its inviting bosom of tasty samples, fresh brewed coffee and sumptuous produce, each carefully marked by origin.
The layout of the store may be confusing at first, but after a single visit you will like it. It simply flows and makes sense in a world where big box grocers move aisles around like a bad habit without any semblance of reason.
While I may not make it to the Farmer's Market, CM allows me to remain committed to buying local. There is always a solid selection of Texas fruits and veggies, especially when citrus is in season. Although I may have to pay more, I can rest assured that I will be able to find everything I need from plump trumpet mushrooms to Texas dairy chesses. The bulk section allows me to buy just what I need to assure freshness in my kitchen, which is critical for spices. And speaking of the bulk section, how many people know that they guy fetching you agave from the back actually speaks Russian and Arabic? Such awesome employees!
For all of those who draw a comparison to Whole Foods, please hold your tongue. There is little comparison. CM is focused on quality without concern for the marketing racket that is Whole Foods' "organic" spiel. HEB is also a private company, so rest assured that decisions are made to improve YOUR shopping experience and not a shareholder's bottom line.
I have only one gripe: the end of the Foodie program. Perhaps CM did not understand how special Foodie cash and specials made us feel? It is something for Austinites to envy. They have SXSW, so at least give us Foodie Points.
Not just for food...check out their FLORAL department!! – I can't say enough praises about their floral department. Each time I buy flowers, we are amazed at how long they last. They get the freshest flowers. The 3 bunches for $12.99 can make anyone an amateur florist. Selection will vary based on what is fresh out in the market. Now, I have to sing the praises of Scott. I was sent to order flowers for my wedding. I'm the groom, not the bride. This was not fair but I took on the challenge anyway. I have Scott the few wishes of my future bride and I could see the wheels turning on what he was going to create. Two days later I came to pick them up and they were AMAZING. He far exceeded what we could have ever expected.
ups and downs – Pros: Huge variety, delicious prepared foods, i have to stress how incredible the selection is. They have stuff you would never see anywhere else in Houston. The coffee selection, stuff you can buy in bulk, chocolate, wines, breads, etc - wow, there is so much variety! And the free samples! yum! I love bringing out of town guests here.
Cons: Not enough parking, crowded at most hours of the day, the worst is that even though they have SO much variety, not much of it is very fresh. I know people are saying they have the freshest seafood and meat, but I am a vegetarian so I'm not sure about that. But of the vegetables, the leafy greens and roots are typically really overpriced AND tough (I am willing to pay a lot for fresh vegetables), they stock organic milk that is older than in other stores, i once bought cheese there that went moldy in less than a week, spiced red peppers that went moldy in about 1 week, their eggs aren't that fresh either, the list goes on and on.
My bottom line is that it is super fun to go with your friends, check out the free samples, but buyer beware if you aren't eating the food that you buy within 3-4 days. As for fresh leafy or root vegetables, better to buy somewhere else because everything here is tough and gamey, unless it's some exotic ingredient that you can't get at another store. If you must buy vegetables here, cook within the day.
Good selection, Bad traffic – I went there for the first time on a Saturday and was amazed at the produce; everything I needed and them some. The only problem with this place is that it gets extremely congested. My husband and I made the mistake of getting the larger cart and came to find out that it was very difficult to move around, turn, even wait at the deli. It was a little expensive but worth it. Overall, I would say I would go there again only if I needed a specialty product only because of the massive amounts of people, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't blame all of these people for shopping there, Central Market has some of the best cust. service ever. and has quality products.
Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this place? – The first time I ever went here 3 years ago, I spent a good 4 hours there...tasting, smelling, touching, and mostly tasting everything. Everyone at this store is extremely nice and very knowledgeable. There's a lady that works in fruits that we call the friendly fruit lady. She's always there giving free samples of the latest delicious fruit. Also, in the candy section, there's a lady who always has cool hair who knows just about everything there is to know about candy. In the coffee section, there's a bald gentleman who is absoulutely incredible and can make the best coffee reccomendations ever. The men in the meatmarket are very, very kind and knowledgeable, and there's an attractive Hispanic gentleman working there who knows pretty much everything about every meat they offer. Wanna try something in the prepared food? Just say the word. I swear, going there is like having a great afternoon snack. They have incredible potato salad, egg salad with peas (my FAVE!!!), goat cheese quesadillas, and everything else is to odie for, too. Their fresh cut fruit is definitely the freshest I've seen in a grocery store, and their cheese section is incredible! The place is a little on the high side, but, the experience is so wonderful, that you don't mind paying the extra few bucks. Check it out!
A Foodie's Paradise – Central Market truly is a foodie's paradise. From the moment you walk in and look at all the produce. I am always amazed at the produce I can find here that I can't locate anywhere else. The fresh juices are amazing. The meat and seafood displays are incredible. Try some of their pre-marinated stuff- it is fantastic, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare. Their wine selection is to die for. The bulk section, the bread, the desserts, the cheese, the olive bar, the spread bar, etc.... it's all AMAZING. The only negative thing I have to say about this place is that I think their pre-made food is a little too expensive. I recommend you go at odd hours when it is not ridiculously crowded so you can truly enjoy this place. You're not going grocery shopping here, you're having an experience.
The block-long parking lot should warn you: This is no milk-and-dog-food corner shop. – The Scene
A 75,000-square-foot amusement park of food, including 600 kinds of cheese, 180 types of olive oil and 3,000 different beers and wines. One of the first sights is salsa--lab-style steel bowls, each holding creations with fresh mango, ancho, tomatillo or chipotle. Nearby loom freezers packed with boutique ice creams. Turn and run into a woman dressed in mermaid garb. She's pointing to the 75-foot seafood case, where whole fresh fish rear up from mounds of ice and attendants shout above their wares as if they're at a Boston wharf. The coffee section offers 40 different types of beans.
Prices on some gourmet goods can be high, but you can also snag an armful of giant sunflowers for about $10. And sights like the potato shelf--where 20 kinds of tuber spill from bins like polished gems--come absolutely free.
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