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P&K Grocery

  • j

Has anyone been to this place on West Mary Street? I just stopped in for the first time and it was pretty cute....sandwiches/groceries/antiques? It seems like a great neighborhood spot, but I'm not sure I quite get it...

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  1. They make a killer hot dog with roasted corn & cabbage, chow chow, candied jalapenos and bread and butter slices. Sounds like a lot, but the smokiness of the dog on a grill-toasted bun with the crunchiness of the corn and cabbage, the sweetness of the chow chow and pickles and the spicy kick of the peppers play well together.

    I've also tried the No. 5 Cuban with sliced pork, gruyere and carmelized onions on a baguette and it was pretty good itself.

    Also, I'll admit a guilty pleasure in their chocolate-covered peanut butter balls–sweet, soft peanut butter dipped in dark chocolate.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Twill

      I'm not much on hot dogs normally, but that does sound pretty tasty. Interesting how hot dogs keep appearing as a popular food choice.

      Thanks for the reply!

      1. re: Twill

        good heads up there twill; my girl and i were able to stop in and sample them yesterday (to-go actually). they are quite excellent. I've typically always ridden past and have only stopped in once or twice but I was able to actually peruse the store yesterday while the dogs were being made [side note: call ahead with orders as their sandwiches take 10-15min to make depending on busyness]. the stock can best be described as foodie eclectic; but the prices are quite reasonable for the things they have.

        i'll be sure to return and sample some other sandwiches as well. as for the service - it was good; i was bought my food in a to-go bag [excellent wrap job btw, which you'll appreciate if you've had one] while i wandered the store. so i can't validate the poor service comments below; alternatively - it seemed quite good.

        1. re: solo

          My bad, solo. I should've minded the time in my original comment. There's a distinct amount of "care" that goes into the prep at P&K, so your best bet is to order your sandwiches when you arrive, then spend some time perusing the wares or grabbing a cold one and soaking up some sun at the outdoor tables. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I'll have to swing by again soon myself.

      2. The hot dogs & sandwiches are indeed incredible. Don't miss the fresh squeezed lemonade on the weekends - occasionally made with fresh blueberries! Admittedly, it's not the 78704 place to buy groceries (Farm to Market is more affordable and comprehensive), but they have a lovely selection of housewares and candy.

        The thing I find baffling is the existence of Cissi's so close to Farm to Market. The quality of their prepared foods range from unappetizing to inedible while the grocery selection is arbitrary to the point of useless. Meanwhile, the employees seem distracted and uninformed - a sharp contrast to the consistently warm, attentive, and experienced service at both P &K and Farm to Market.

        6 Replies
        1. re: RubySue

          You hit the nail on the head! On Saturday, hubby and I went to Cissi's for a quick lunch while running errands. There were eight people working...and only one guy behind the sandwich counter. There was a long line and this one employee was working so hard, but nobody offered to help him. The other seven people, including one who appeared to be a manager, were chatting while one poor guy was in the weeds. I felt so bad for him!

          I could possibly get over this if the food was stellar, but my lunch was only "eh".

          Ironically, this organic market does not offer a recycle bin. I had a Mexcian coke with my lunch and asked one of the employees where I could recycle the bottle. He said, "we don't have a recycle bin but I can throw it away for you." What is the point of carrying organic products if you aren't incorporating the smallest of green business practices? Doesn't make sense.
          I'll take my dining dollars elsewhere.

          1. re: Honey Bee

            At least the guy behind the counter was working hard! When I went, he grudgingly came forward. I asked how the soup special was, and he kind of grimaced. I suggested a sandwich and he shrugged. Finally I asked what was good, and he admitted that the chicken coconut soup was "okay." I ordered one, but he couldn't find a top for the container. I told him it was fine if he just used saran wrap, which I saw sitting on the counter. He refused to give up the search, and five minutes later (there were maybe six impatient people behind me in line at this point) TAPED a lid that was completely the wrong size on top of the soup cup.

            The soup was tasty enough because coconut milk and chicken stock is an inherently good combination, even straight from the cans - but there was hardly any chicken and no vegetables...

            I can't believe they don't even recycle.
            Needless to say, I'll not return.

            1. re: RubySue

              Sounds like Cissi's is staffed by the ubiquitous Austin hipster.

              1. re: Torckus

                One of the Cissi's guys that helped me spoke broken English so perhaps he is unfamiliar with what is expected as far as service is concerned. Had the lemon merangue pie and it was so tart, but had to explain myself five or so times to the guy and not before someone else came to help him help me...

                Re P&K, I've heard such negative things from friends in the neighborhood- from their being completely ignored to being given the once over by the girls behind the counter- that I was hesitant to stop in. Guess what? I got the cold shoulder as well. After standing at the counter for a minute or two while they gossiped, looked me over, then looked away, I walked out even though the sandwiches sounded tantalizing. Maybe I have to wave some cash in the air to get some service? (Walked around the store too and got no help there either, even with throat clearing, puzzled look, etc. Do I have to call on you for help? Isn't it your JOB to ask me?) Or perhaps those girls don't really need the job. On a more positive note, their homemade hummos is delicious (I sampled it greedily on the way out the door).

                1. re: tokyomonamour

                  I second all y'all's complaints about Cissi's. You can't even get celery, or most other produce you need for basic cooking. It's quite a bit more expensive than Farm to Market and has less selection. No thanks.

          2. re: RubySue

            i have only been in a couple of times, but i have had similar experience at Cissi's...and of course Farm to Market is great!!!

          3. The P&K use to be cool. But something happened to it. They have less neato stuff.
            The whole back use to be filled with soaps and kitchen stuff. Now there's just a desk and some non fun things.

            BUT.......i will get in there and eat one of them dogs........despite the notsoanymorecoolness of it......

            7 Replies
            1. re: scoutaustin

              I've lived in the neighborhood for about 5 years now and honestly, I am still suprised that there isn't a decent corner market, or a small pub, or a small deli. All we seem to have are places that do *NOT* get their clientele (Cissi's, P&K) or places that sort-of get it (Enoteca's offerings, while mostly fantastic, are sorely limited).

              Cissi's needs to re-tool QUICK, otherwise they'll be gone by October. I am not sure who did their research but boy, they sure blew it. Did they just go to Factory People for 5 minutes, see the $500 pants and figure that's who lived around there?

              1. re: cousin dave

                Yeah.....what's up with that. I'm tired of Whole Foods and S. Congress in general. I want a small grocery.....locally owned.......and a quiet place to have a drink.....locally owned preferably.........uh oh.....this may be a new subject....

                1. re: scoutaustin

                  what about farm to market? isn't that an alternative to the corporate schlock? they're in the neighborhood, owned by people who live in the neighborhood, and stock many local items.

                  1. re: platinum

                    yep....i like that place.......it's my choice of the month.........i come all the way from 620 area to go there. All because i want to get away from corporate schlock...........

                    1. re: platinum

                      You're right, I should have mentioned Farm to Market. I hope they do well enough to expand....I shop there at least twice a week and they're nothing but kind and helpful.

                  2. re: cousin dave

                    I saw a NY Strip in their meat case for over $23/lb. Not dry-aged prime, or anything so fancy. Coleman's beef. Should go for about $11-16/lb max.

                    1. re: cousin dave

                      Cissi's market also has some sort of warehouse or office on S First just north of Slaughter. I see the sign outside with their name on it in an office/warehouse complex. With that kind of overhead and that poor store in a prime retail spot, I agree they don't look like they're going to last long.

                  3. At P&K early in the morn'? Try a bagel with cream cheese, you won't be disappointed!

                    I'm a loyal Farm to Market shopper, so I've been a little hesitant to embrace either of its nearby competitors. But P&K has great bagels, so I sneak in from time to time. Fresh off the panini press, one of these homemade bagels slathered in plain cream cheese is a warm, chewy delight. (I'm tired of the often hard and stale Hot Jumbo bagels that you get in most local deli/cafes.) Not sure if P&K's other baked goods are of the same caliber 'cause I haven't tried them. For pastries in the 78704 area, I mostly end up at Enoteca Vespaio for a buttery croissant or pan au chocolat.

                    1. P & K is ...how shall we say...a business in transition? (Hopefully not transitioning to a close.) Since I first started going there they have dramatically pared down their grocery offerings to the point that I doubt you could cook a complete meal without having to shop somewhere else as well. They have replaced much of their original grocery area with seating, though I don't usually see much of a crowd. They also seem to be in a constant state of rearranging, which must be disconcerting to neighborhood shoppers--though not as disconcerting as the occasionally naked shelves and coolers.
                      On the other hand, their deli counter has put out some great quick food. I have had the hot dogs and like them, and some of the sandwiches are great.
                      Cissis appeared to me to be inconvenient as an eatery and almost useless as a grocery.
                      Farm to Market is a great place, with way more grocery options than Cissi's, crammed into a fraction of the space. It would be great if Pam could expand some day, but that would mean taking out TFB or the Woodland...Maybe they could move into the former Cissi's spot if it were to tragically choke on its own soco-ness.

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: platinum

                          Yes PEG. I knew it was one of those 3-letter P names. Thanks!

                      1. I live near P&K and when they first opened, was there almost every day. Now, maybe once a week, just because their selection has gone down, down, down. It is perplexing and somewhat depressing. Early on, their meats were very expensive but good, so if you just needed to grab a pork loin for dinner and didn't want to drive into town to Whole Foods, I was willing to fork it over. And, they had a small but thoughtful wine selection. And a decent and ever-changing selection of produce.

                        The last time I was there, they had NO meats, almost zero produce, and one (repeat ONE) type of wine...a Spanish red blend of no consequence. When I took it home, it was corked! Not feeling the love for P&K right now, no matter how cute their logo is.

                          1. re: bookgrrl72

                            well heck. I guess no one in the neighborhood was interested in.....

                            how did they say it....

                            "a collective vision of a corner store... an anchor to a community and a place that brought folks together in a way that felt authentic and familiar."

                            oh well............

                            bye bye P&K.........

                            and dang, i never got in there to get a hot dog..........so sad

                            1. re: scoutaustin

                              I was not impressed with P&K at all. Overpriced and trying to do too much. Sandwiches and candles? What we need is a corner store that sells affordable everyday things, not another miniature whole foods or central market. I really like Farm to Market, but they are expensive. Austin needs to adopt the east coast neighborhood grocery concept. We desperately need one on the east side, but I fear it is going to be another yuppie magnet where you can't get a sandwich under $10 or a piece of cheese for under $5. Is there no middle ground?

                              1. re: redginger

                                You could always just walk across the street from where P&K used to be to Davids'.Great handmade sandwiches,plump with deli meats and cheeses.A good beer selection that is reasonably priced.All manners of savory and sweet snacks.Plus it's a small family run business where you're greeted warmly and served promptly.When I lived in Bouldin Creek I went there everyday for snacks,beer and sundries.

                                1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                  Hear, hear! David's has plenty to offer the 'hood, and at fair minimart prices (only a 25%-100% markup over a grocery store, not the usurious 200-400% of the upscale gourmet/organic/artisanal minimart).

                                  Also, I'm always amazed at how small Austin is! I lived within walking distance of 5th and Mary, and if you went there every day, the odds that we crossed paths there are around 99%. Our most likely days would have been Saturday or Sunday late mornings, when (during a couple of my younger, crazier years) you might have caught me slinking in to beat a hangover with an Arizona 99-cent canned Energy tallboy, or even (on a desperate occasion) a can of Sparks (*shudder*).

                            2. re: bookgrrl72

                              Heartbreaking, but not because of the chow.

                              When I first lived in that hood, P&K was a tiny corner store called "Pak's". I preferred it to David's (across the street, but still quite nice) mostly because the owner would share unsolicited advice and stories ranging through all sorts of topics, including his experiences playing soccer and roasting goats with friends at a weekend bbq. (The gentleman who runs David's is quite nice -- this is not a knock on him -- but is more the quiet type.)

                              Then some mysterious folks bought the place and hung signs promising that a new vision of the corner store was coming! soon! this autumn! They had to change the promised date several times, and my wife and I believed they might never open in the first place. Often driving or walking by, we'd see people working their asses off at all sorts of odd hours, reminding me very much of the early days before the opening of the Alamo Drafthouse's original location. Elbow-grease applied copiously, and around the clock. Then the place would rest dormant for weeks, before another odd-houred burst of activity.

                              Finally the day came, and P&K opened. And while we never really appreciated their offering, I know the owners really cared and really tried. I hate to see someone's dream come to an end, and I hope the parties involved find some other wonderful project to bring their passion to. Best of luck and godspeed.

                            3. I'm very saddened that it closed. I go to St. Edward's and stopped into P&K almost every day on my way to campus to pick up a vitamin water, and everyday on my way home to pick up some deviled eggs, cornichons, or a delicious hot dog. Those hot dogs were among the best hot dogs I have ever had. I agree with a majority of the replies that that they were inconsistent... I was surprised to see that they closed down because I figured that they were getting ready to make a major change considering all the rearranging they were doing. I didn't like that it wasn't consistent, but I liked the select gourmet offerings that they DID have. I also hate to see someone's dream come to an end, but alas not all dreams survive. I'm glad to have been a customer during the time they were open, and will always think fondly of the place and wish that I could have just one more hot dog.