HOME > Chowhound > Austin >


What's good at Central Market?

I visit Austin often and just 'discovered' Central Market at Westgate. I often stop by to pick up dinner.

What is good at the Cafe and what is good for takeout? I see lots of bread and yummy desserts.

Are the soups any good? Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I go to the Central location but probably about the same. The salmon salad and entree are pretty good at the cafe (a little pricey but usually feels worth it). The sweets are not right for me there. The burgers are also pretty good. I don't like the "take out" food at all and I've tried many different things, hoping to get it "right". Usually way too much salt and/or fat.

    1. One of my housemates regularly goes there for the salad. The other one sometimes gets the whole roasted chicken. Personally, I think the prices rather outrageous for pretty ordinary food that I can cook up pretty fast for a lot less money (even paying the exorbitant CM prices). The soups are decent, from what I hear, though nothing special. One thing I will say good about Central Market takeout is I've never heard of anyone getting food poisoning from any location.

      Though its not in their takeout section (usually) the one thing I get sometimes is a squid salad thing at the fish counter--usually ammended with delicious seaweed and sesame oil. That is always excellent.

      1. They have several great soups that I do for take home sometimes.

        1. An out of town visitor, I have been taken to the central location on several visits and have been very entertained and impressed. Their bakery is indeed very good -- one of the best store-made baguettes I've tasted. They source their produce well, and items that are in season are usually ripe and attractive. I have been particularly pleased by their cheese department -- many choices in every category, and almost always an attentive and informed specialist around to give suggestions, provide tastes, and often cut to order. With that in mind, I'd minimize the expensive prepared take-out fare and have a dinner with crusty bread, cheeses, some accompanying grapes, apples, pears, figs or berries, and maybe some charcuterie.

          5 Replies
          1. re: nosh

            I always pick up a tub of the Pure Luck chipotle chevre. Grab a baquette & some olives!

            1. re: chascates

              That, with a selection of their charcuterie as mentioned above, makes a lovely meal. Again, my experience is mostly at the north location, but the people who work the cured meat case there are always ready with suggestions and samples. I have had some delightful meats that I might never have tried were it not for their suggestions. And don't forget to get nuts, too! Love the bulk section, try the spicy roasted cashews.

              Also, a good hummus from the cold case, along with the aforementioned olives, nuts, cured meat of some sort and pita or potato chips... bliss.

              1. re: Ashforth

                Can you describe the charcuterie at CM? Both locations are too much of a drive for one item ... unless it is special... then I am there!

                1. re: Rene

                  Oh dear, you have asked the wrong person. I know very little about the art of charcuterie, I only know that I like what I have gotten there. I know there is one with a name similar to caprese that is divine, and to tell you the truth, I do a lot of pointing and tasting there. They seem to have a pretty extensive selection and are very willing to discuss what you are looking for taste-wise and what you will be using it for. My best advice would be to make the trip, buy a few selections with lovely accompaniments, and take your chances.

                2. re: Ashforth

                  Their Spicy Cashews come from Austin Nuts and they taste different every time I buy them. They're still good - I buy them often - just not very consistent.

            2. I go to Westgate and I agree that I don't like their ready to take food all that much. The one thing I like is sometimes they have peppers stuffed with chicken and cheese and such and it's good. There is also a salad that has chicken and strawberries that is good, but it's like $9. I think that's a bit high. In the cafe the chicken salad sandwich is good and the breakfast tacos are good. I haven't found much else there that I like.

              1 Reply
              1. re: GenieinTX

                I am going to add more to my original thought. The breakfast tacos are really good. I went this weekend again. I love their potatoes. One is usually plenty for me with bacon egg and potato. If I'm really hungry I'll get the platter that comes with two and adds cheese. They are always overstuffed and tasty.

              2. I was tempted to respond with "nothing," but that's not true. I hate their cafe, I think everything from there tastes the same. That said, the chicken pot pie and the spinach mushroom quiche from the takeout coolers are really yummy.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bookgrrl72

                  It's nothing like a real cobb salad, but I love what they call a cobb salad. Get your fill of Greek olives and blue cheese all in one meal!

                2. The Cafe has some of the better burgers in town. From the Chef's case I like the turkey meatloaf with a chipotle bbq glaze and the chicken diablo. we get stuff from the chef's case all the time.

                  1. Agreed on the turkey meatloaf, it is good. I also like the bacon & bleu cheese potato salad, the gruyere scalloped potatoes, and the white bean salad with radiccio & almonds, yum. The french market potato salad is very good, as is the four grain(?) salad with wild rice and cranberries, I think (it's been a while since I had that). In the fall and winter they have good jalapeno cornbread dressing. I like being able to get one or two servings of basic veggies like the grilled asparagus, wilted spinach, dilled carrots and green beans, and a single grilled chicken breast.

                    I usually shop at the North Lamar location and their rotisserie chickens tend to be a tad overcooked for my taste (and they are expensive), but the lemon pepper flavor is very nice.

                    The prices are on the high side, but when you factor in not having to do any prep, cooking or cleanup yourself, and that there is little to no waste, for me it balances out.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ashforth

                      I have to second the bacon and bleu cheese potato salad. It's very delicious and is my favorite version of ready-made potato salad.

                      I also like the cafe's fries. They are always piping hot and tasty when I order them.

                    2. I am a regular visitor who looks for uncommon flavors relative to the caloric investment. Recently I have been buying a single small Olive loaf roll for less than a buck, and then a slice of an interesting Terrine for $2, combined into a sandwich. The bargain enhances the dining adventure. Next I may start adding cheese. yum. It's fun to create interesting combinations.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Paul Silver

                        This is great chowhounding. Fantastic, and a cool way to start thinking about lunch at a place abounding with possibilities...I started slow, with whitefish salad, a loaf of marble rye, a red onion and my own home. I will get more adventurous soon! Keep posting your interesting combinations!

                      2. I usually get stuff to munch in the store and eat it in the cafe (Westgate), taking advantage of any condiments I may need. Maybe an Eduardo's baquette (proscuitto and black pepper), olives, smoked mussels, a few shrimp or seafood salad, a dip of some sort, a hunk of gorgonzola or roquefort cheese, a pouch of tamales, their blue cheese/bacon potato salad, can of Graber olives, pickings from the salad bar, etc... Hint: The single beers are cheaper at the cash register than in the cafe, and the selection much better.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sqwertz

                          I'm curious - why do you call the black petter & prosciutto ficelle "an Eduardo's baguette"?

                        2. Why, oh WHY did they remove the Jackson Salad. They got me totally addicted to it and then just snatched it off! Sob.

                          Also, as an aside, I used to drive all the way south for their garlic butter, but they've changed it too. Now it doesn't have that spicy undertone (like Gumbo's butter - anyone have that recipe???) and now is almost stickysweet.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: amysuehere

                            Same situation with the Eat-a-Fajita Salad. My wife LOVED it. To this day, all I hear when we eat there is how she wishes they still had that stupid salad on the menu!

                            For me, there was a fabulous grilled chicken sandwich with avocado, bacon, and jack cheese. It's gone too.

                          2. Try the falafel at the South CM. It's overpriced, but yummy.

                            1. There's an armenian string cheese there tied in a knot with black sesame seeds. It's worth looking for, and I've never seen it elsewhere. Same for Jaime's salsas (from the restaurant on Red River) in the cooler. Nobody else carries it that I know of.