As I’ve visited local markets and grocery stores in Austin that many neighborhood residents frequent, it has quickly became apparent what Austinites value: organic food, local products and craft beer.
Though the atmosphere of these local businesses varies, they all make shopping local convenient and offer easy access to unique foods that are difficult to find anywhere else. Here’s a list of what I consider the 5 best local grocery stores in Austin.
What’s on Tap at Royal Blue Grocery?
There are five Royal Blue Grocery stores in Austn, all in the central downtown area and each carefully adapted to its immediate neighborhood.
Both the Brazos and Congress locations boast outdoor seating where you can drink the beer, wine or coffee you just bought. The high ceiling and white wood paneled walls of the Brazos location enclose extra grocery options, due to the apartment-centric location, while Congress caters to grab-and-go customers with many prepared food items made in-house. The Rainey St. location also blends into the surrounding neighborhood with beer on tap.
Patrons of all Royal Blue Grocery stores enjoy Stumptown Coffee, which, according to two earnest employees, is a premium coffee only found in a few cities nationwide. Its nitro cold brew is on tap at the Rainey St. location and Congress will soon follow suit.
Make sure not to dismiss this grocer’s food items. They make dishes as diverse and interesting as white bean arugula pasta with chicken, to salami and Gouda sandwiches. They cater, too, for breakfast, lunch or appetizers.
301 Brazos St, 609 Congress Avenue, 51 Rainey St – Official website
RiverCity Market Is Intimate Neighborhood Resource
Located inside a friendly building with wood paneling and whitewashed walls covered in bright blue writing, RiverCity Market is a quaint, quirky space stuffed with a mixture of convenient and unique items. The deli is always busy for breakfast and lunch, serving build-your-own breakfast tacos and an array of fresh dishes such as Korean meatballs, butternut squash, homemade enchiladas and much more.
Directly to the left of the entrance is a proud display of salsa heaven, many of which are locally made, looming over Skull & Cakebones cupcakes. In the back corner, in addition to the usual local and craft brews, several pumpkin and seasonal beers are ready to celebrate October.
2209 S Congress – Official website
Wheatsville Co-op Hosts Your Shopping Adventure
Shopping at Wheatsville Co-op is a learning experience. You will always see something you’ve never heard of and will likely be encouraged to stretch your boundaries.
My favorite section is the “Bulk: pinch or pound” area, where you self serve a vast array of food products, including rice, cereals, oats and even dark chocolate ginger. There is a similar system for tea.
My strategy is to always get what I like and also try something new—I mean, have you ever heard of Kukicha Twig Tea?
Check out the store’s newest location on South Lamar, a testament to the success of this cooperatively owned business. Become an owner and you can receive special deals, and even vote or run for the Board of Directors.
3101 Guadalupe St – Official website
Shop Classic at Fresh Plus
Fresh Plus has been in Austin since 1927 and still serves the local community at three locations, one of which is in the Hyde Park neighborhood.
You can complete a full grocery trip here. There is fresh, organic produce and local as well as big name brands. Near the front door, a glass flower piece hangs in the window, calling for passerbys to support local art. Regional craft brews are in the back left corner. Wine is also found here, with many bottles sporting an alluring red “Sale” sticker I found difficult to resist.
Other components that make Fresh Plus unique are its array of eccentric greeting cards and a selection of packaged food from its own deli and many other Austin businesses.
408 E 43rd St – Official website
Thom’s Market Is a Community Staple
Prepare for your afternoon at Zilker by picking up a walking stick, sunscreen, flying disc or kite at Thom’s Market. This humble market may have a simple black and white sign, but the interior is decidedly charming.
Artfully stacked baskets hold fresh fruit and veggies, while cupcakes from Better Bites Bakery, prepared food from Tom’s Tabooley and wrapped Taco Deli tacos are all displayed up front. Form your own six-pack of unusual beers here, or follow the trail of staff wine picks marked with pink paper.
A counter lines the front window, where you can take a break and people watch. A black binder lying here further encourages a sense of local community. Entitled “Austin Directory,” it features flyers for events, workshops and various services available in the city.
1418 Barton Springs Rd – Official website
Unique Neighborhood Attitudes
These neighborhood markets and groceries are a perpetuating force of Austin culture. They’re the first places you run for a pack of Austin Beerworks or a bottle of Adelbert’s. They are also where you try new things in order to support local businesses, like Cuvee Coffee or Buddha’s Kombucha.
If you haven’t been to these local grocery stores in Austin, you’re missing out on fresh, organic food, unique specialty items and friendly, flexible service.
Which local market do you support?
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