Now I want a Central Market in Puerto Rico… PLEASE!

20 Jun

I have mentioned you how I love to visit Whole Foods every time I travel to the US and how I wish that someday they would open up a Whole Foods in Puerto Rico.

Well… I think I am modifying my wish. I think if the Whole Foods people are not paying attention, then I want a Central Market in Puerto Rico instead. I have a new supermarket crush and it’s called Central Market!!!!

I learned about Central Market from my friend Ana Yolanda, whenshe told me  Central Market was her favorite supermarket while living in Austin, TX. I was a bad best friend apparently because I never visited her in grad school and never went to a Central Market with her. But I always remembered how she raved about this supermarket and how everything was super fresh and pretty. Fast forward to a few years ago, when I visited my first Central Market in Houston, TX. I was AMAZED!!!! It’s like a Whole Foods, but even nicer.

Central Market is the answer to Whole Foods from the H-E-B people. A company based in San Antonio, TX, H-E-B started in 1905 and now have 329 locations all over Texas and Mexico. H-E-B has grown and developed the Central Market concept since 1994, and now with 9 stores all over Texas. Last month, I returned to Texas, now in Dallas for the first time, and had to do some shopping and couldn’t bear to go anywhere else than Central Market.

A Central Market brochure explains it best… It’s part grocery store, part amusement park. And I dig it every step of the way.

What I find most fascinating about Central Market is their produce and fresh foods sections. I fell in love with their produce section, it’s delightful. It’s so large and vibrant. Most things are organic, even though they have some conventional stuff too. Everything is well-identified so you know what you’re purchasing. Tomatoes, avocados, Meyer lemons… everything looks so fresh that invites you to cook.

Love how they collocate produce… tomatoes and avocados just SCREAM guacamole!!!!!

I was fascinated with their herbs section, how they present it like it’s a home garden. Lovely!!!! Here are some pictures I took from visits prior and from my most recent one. I even met a lady that told me she visits Central Market every day and does her daily shopping for what she wants to cook/eat that day, just like the Europeans do. Very apropos when Central Market is indeed inspired by a European market…

I don’t know if they still do it, but a few years back, they had a table of fruits and kids could just place coins in a piggy bank and serve themselves the fruit they wanted. The funds would support children activities in the store and the community. I didn’t see this table at the Dallas store, but I hope they keep it up.

They’re bulk foods section is incredible… they have an ample selection of honeys, nuts, rice, beans, snacks, candy, coffee, grains and everything else you can think of. They even have bath salts… I held myself back from buying everything and anything I wanted. Remember Madelyn… you don’t live here!!!! You can’t cook here!!!  (Why do I say that to myself??   As if I had never ever done grocery shopping outside of Puerto Rico, right???)

Nuts in bulk…

Bathinf Salts in bulk @ Central Market in Houston

Their bakery section is AMAZING!!! They have a very wide variety of whole grain breads.

And the Cheese section… TO DIE FOR!!! They claim to have over 700 cheeses. And who am I to question that!!! I was fascinated with a basket of “cheese orphans”- small pieces of very expensive cheeses, perfect for the single consumer like me or if you just want to try a cheese without committing to a larger piece. I must say, I “adopted” three of these orphans and they tasted delicious – some emmethaler swiss cheese, smoked gouda and grana padano, all with microbial rennet, making them vegetarian.

Their prepared foods section is huge… and this section of the store was packed with people looking to buy their dinner for that day. I saw many young, apparently single, people. The place was bustling… I gravitated towards the olive bar, with over 20 different kinds of olives. I had to contain myself from sampling a few…

What I’ve always found a difference between Central Market and Whole Foods – their packaged goods section. Central Market now has a more ample gluten-free section than before, possibly from the popularity that gluten-free diets have gotten in the last few years. But you’ll see at Central Market a more limited variety of packaged goods and even some regular national brands, like Nabisco or Kraft, where in Whole Foods you would never see.  I was very pleased to see Central Market carries a wide variety of Tinkyada pastas… my favorite brand of brown rice pastas. So a word to the wise for all of you who have asked me where to get it.

I also found their prices are much more affordable than Whole Foods, or Puerto Rico for that matter. Look at the price on these Coconut Yogurts @ $1.79. I know, I know… these are still expensive, but much more affordable to the $2.99 I have paid in Freshmart when I’ve had to go dairy-free for periods of time. I also considered buying myself a few single-serve organic milks for my hotel room and the same package/brand was $1 more expensive at Whole Foods than at Central Market.

And the clincher is their fresh flower section… They have such a wide array of fresh flowers and at great prices. And I can’t believe I have a picture of that section. Possibly because I was working and that was the main reason I visited Central Market in the first place – to buy flowers for an arrangement I needed to build for a client. Three bunches of flowers for $10… Yes!!!! Beautiful, gorgeous, fresh and affordable too.

If you live in Texas and have a Central Market nearby… consider yourselves so lucky!!!! I kinda envy you a little… only the good envy, of course. But I you don’t, and don’t have a Central Market near you… please visit one the next time you go by Texas. They’re an amazing store chain and one that I hope I can orchestrate to bring to Puerto Rico.

Wouldn’t that be nice for Central Market to expand to Puerto Rico as their second out-of Texas market???  Have you been to a Central Market??  What’s your favorite thing about Central Market???


9 Responses to “Now I want a Central Market in Puerto Rico… PLEASE!”

  1. Aniette June 20, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    This is the best store ever!!! I can’t live without my HEB/Central Market. When purchasing our new home, one of my concerns was how far was the HEB. Fortunately, not far!

  2. Riquísimo PR June 21, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    Me encanta, necesito que abran uno de estos aquí!!!

  3. fruttadi June 21, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Me conformo con el Whole Food.. amo ir de compras alli cada vez que voy a Tampa u otro estado que tenga uno.. Todo es tan fresco y tan bien presentado que dan deseos de llevarlo todo a la casa , En mi reciente viaje a Washington D.C comi por primera alli y todo estaba super delicioso y lo mejor comi mas saludable 😉

    • KarmaFree Cooking June 21, 2012 at 10:45 am #

      Yo también hago lo mismo… I also visit a Whole Foods whenever I travel and see one!!! but when in TX, a visit to Central Market is a MUST!!!!

  4. Lauri June 22, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    I know you’ve heard me and Carol talk about it. We love CM! I go weekly if not more often. It’s the look on people’s face’s when they see the first aisle of produce and realize that *that* is only 1/3 of the department.

    • KarmaFree Cooking June 22, 2012 at 10:32 am #

      Lauri… I wish I could travel to TX more often to actually grocery shop there!!!! Madelyn.

  5. Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ June 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Nicer than WF??? Sheesh, how is that even possible?!?! Though, it looks just like it. I love WF, too, but it’s so caro. Dios mio. Todo cuesta un brazo.

    • KarmaFree Cooking June 25, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      Better prices make it BETTER than WF!!!! And, you know what??? Not every WF is created equal. Some are nicer than others… Central Market is certainly nicer than the WF I have visited in TX.

  6. Vilma June 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Ay si, por favor!!!! Por lo menos en el area metro esta Freshmart, pero para el area sur no hay nada. Quiero uno en Ponce!!!!!!!!!!

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