From bakeries to butcher shops, Austin is teeming with specialty grocery stores that make shopping for dinner or lunch or dessert an experience in itself.
We’re keen on the knowledgeable purveyors, the incredible selections and the customer service. We’re comforted by an expert’s words on prosciutto or baby octopus. And there’s something satisfying about finding what you want — or something you’ve never heard of — and taking the time to learn about it.
We’ve come up with a list of a few of our favorite spots — some old and some new — that inspire us to get creative in the kitchen.
Antonelli’s Cheese Shop
4220 Duval Rd., 512-531-9610
A passion for cheese led a newlywed couple to open this wildly popular spot in Hyde Park in 2010. As the long lines attest, the love affair is still thriving. Cheesemongers live and breathe everything cheese and happily provide samples (try the Pondhopper if it’s available) and a little history. In addition to the main attraction, which is arranged by style of cheese (think semi-soft vs. washed rind), this tiny space stocks wines, tupelo honey, jams and other specialty items. Cheese courses and tastings are offered too.
2610 Manor Rd., 512-275 6357
If you haven’t made the pilgrimage to this one-of-a-kind spot in East Austin (it has been written up in the New York Times, Bon Appétit, Forbes and the Huffington Post, to name only a few), do it. Take your own bags, bottles and jars and spend some time enjoying the simple life. In.gredients is the country’s first zero-packaging grocery store, so you’ll need a container to carry home your organic peanut butter, black quinoa, gluten-free pancake and waffle mix, and the other bulk items on hand. The concept is simple: local, real food without the wasteful packaging. In the event you forget your own containers, recycled ones are available. After you do a little shopping, order a tiny nibble from the bakery (a cookie, perhaps) and a soothing drink and then plant yourself at one of the tables by the garden.
10901 N. Lamar Blvd., 512-454-4804
Even if you don’t cook things like bánh nam or kung pao shrimp at home, you must make a trip north to this 55,000-square-foot homage to Asian food that sells everything from trai thanh long (dragon fruit) to cooked salted duck eggs. You’ll also find utensils (pick your favorite color chopsticks), medicines and knickknacks. Wow factor: Head to the back of the store to discover a dizzying array of fresh seafood, including tanks filled with live fish and lobsters.
Phoenicia Bakery and Deli
4701 Burnet Rd, 512-323-6770
Inside this well-kept Middle Eastern grocery store you’ll find dried moghrabieh; more than 20 types of olives; a variety of feta; salmon trout; snacks such as stuffed vine leaves; and aisles of spices, rices and more. The bakery in the back produces great-tasting gyros, falafel and eggplant sandwiches. We like to listen to the many languages spoken here.
Salt and Time Butcher Shop and Salumeria
1912 E. Seventh St., 512-524-1383
At this space in East Austin, the products are locally sourced from nearby ranches, and they do the butchering onsite, so you know what you are getting is fresh. The meat counter features everything from tri tip to turtle roast to slayer chops. Once you’ve got your main course figured out, turn to the right and direct your attention to the amazing display of house-made salami and air-dried whole muscles. You can get pancetta, prosciutto, mortadella, pepe salame and more by the pound or by the slice. We always seem to walk out with a baguette and a couple of packages of sopressata and summer sausage.