In the bag

San Antonio favorite rings up spot among nation's best supermarkets

San Antonio favorite rings up spot among nation's best supermarkets

Central Market Houston
Central Market scored high marks for its produce selection and in-store features. Central Market/ Facebook

Most of the buzz around San Antonio eating may come from the top-notch restaurants and bars, but a new list from Food & Wine proves that good eating starts at home. On August 22, the culinary bible took on the task of ranking the top 10 supermarkets in the nation and a San Antonio favorite carted away with a top spot.

Coming in at No. 2, Central Market made the list despite only having nine locations around Texas. The supermarket was cited for “almost Europe-worthy retail design, an overwhelming amount of fresh produce, and exceedingly good prepared foods.”

The fancy offshoot of San Antonio-based giant H-E-B debuted in 1994 and has since only had modest growth in the San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston areas. The small footprint gave the Food & Wine editors a little grocery envy. “This is the store that Texas should have exported,” they said.

In addition to the products on the shelves, the magazine praised Central Market for being a destination with “cooking schools, in-store entertainment, proper coffee bars (and an in-house roaster), plus excellent lunches and dinners served on premises.”

Austin-based Whole Foods Market, which has two locations in San Antonio, claimed the No. 6 spot. Since being founded in 1980 with a staff of 19 people, Whole Foods set the standard for the American grocery stores long before being acquired by Amazon in 2017. 

While noting that many of the features that initially made the store special (“better lighting, better design, more ambitious prepared foods, juice and coffee bars, full-service restaurants”) have since become commonplace, Whole Foods still has an ace in the hole with its 365 stores, which offers lower cost organic products and a greater concentration of the company's affordable house brand.

Southern California import Trader Joe’s, which also has two locations around Alamo City, came in at No. 4. Meanwhile, the New York-based Wegman's took the top spot.