Top 10 Grocery Store Restaurants
There’s a wealth of restaurants hidden inside grocery stores waiting to help curious gourmets dip their toes into a whole new world of international cuisine
1) THE FOOD COURT AT HANA WORLD MARKET The best thing about this food court is the variety. It's a double-edged sword – your favorite purveyors of pho might be there one day and gone the next – but the restaurants here spring up like mushrooms after rain, a delightful rotation of Pan-Asian flavors. Visit the stalwart Yoree Korean Cuisine, where the seafood pancake is crispy and the kimchi is garlicky enough to give you bad breath for weeks.
2) SELAM INTERNATIONAL MART & CAFE This cozy neighborhood favorite is a great place for novices of Ethiopian cuisine to start their journey. The cafe serves homestyle renditions of classic stews and slow-cooked braises, with plenty of injera to sop up all that delicious sauce. If you like what you taste, ask the friendly staff to help you snag the right spices and teff flour to re-create your meal at home.
3) MOM'S TASTE Mom's might be small enough to pass for your actual mom's kitchen, but this pint-sized charmer packs a punch, with a cooler full of homemade banchan, pickles, and their legendary cucumber or napa cabbage kimchi, which is available by the bucket for true fans. There's also various fermented goods, homemade noodles, and soups, plus made-to-order Korean specialties like stir-fried beef bulgogi and spicy dried octopus.
4) PHOENICIA BAKERY & DELI You've had their pita bread, available fresh (yes, please) and frozen (still pretty good) in Middle Eastern marketplaces all over town, but nothing beats a trip to the mother ship for one of their ridiculously affordable (and, in the case of the roasted chicken sandwich, award-winning) sandwiches, wrapped with the freshest of all possible pitas. The attached market has everything you'll need to re-create the magic at home. Just add pita.
5) TROPICAL/NIGERIAN RESTAURANT IN AFRICAN MARKET There's the unbeatable supply of palm tree products, and a constantly rotating stream of Nigerian sitcoms and soccer matches, but the real draw of this North Austin marketplace is the authentic Nigerian home cooking, from smoked turkey legs to pounded yam, and of course, eyeball-melting hot pepper soup.
6) TEJI'S AUSTIN With four locations throughout Austin and Round Rock, you're never too far away from getting a fix. It's more restaurant than market, with a full menu of Indian classics like chicken tikka masala, lamb korma, and various permutations of paneer, but the grocery store has the most essential spices and staples of Indian cooking. Bonus: The Downtown location even has a full bar. When's the last time you got tipsy in a grocery store?
7) SHAHI GROCERY AND CAFE Shahi is a one-stop shop for international grocery store goodness, selling meat, pickled everything, exotic candies, and even phone cards. Stocking specialties from Europe (Bulgarian feta, German and Italian chocolates, Russian caviar), the Middle East (pickled turnips, flavored tobacco, yogurt soda), and even parts of Asia, they also have a lunch counter that makes a pretty mean shawarma.
8) FILIPINO ASIAN MART From shrimp chips to adobo seasoning packs, from bubble tea to frozen lumpia, Filipino Asian Mart is a family-run business aimed at stocking kitchens with all the ingredients to cook Filipino classics. Their lechon kawali, a whole-roasted suckling pig with tender meat and crispy skin, is a reliable crowd-pleaser, as is the slow-cooked chicken adobo, and the pancit, a classic Filipino take on Chinese fried noodles.
9) STUFFED CAJUN MEAT MARKET The most important thing to know about this place is that they'll sell you live crawfish by the pound, or cook it by the bucket for your crawfish boil. The second most important thing is that they make their own turduckens – an unrestrained bucket-list-topping meat extravaganza that'll feed more friends than most people have. There's beignets for those with more restraint, and a small selection of DIY supplies.
10) THE FOOD COURT AT H MART Putting H Mart on this list is like including a touring rock juggernaut on a list of up-and-coming musicians. But the fact is that the multinational Korean megasupermarket sensation got where they are by absolutely slaying the supermarket food court game, with offerings like pastries, sushi, fried chicken, and even beer, often with live music. Make sure to pick up some snail cream on the way out.
Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org