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Apr 10, 2012 07:00 AM

Grocery Stores in Bham

Moving to Bham in couple of weeks from Texas. I've shopped at HEB my whole life but they are only in Texas and I must say im pretty bias as they have great stuff. When we visited to find a house I saw a couple of different places: Plix, Piggly Wiggly etc. What is the best for produce, meat and quality products? I know there is a Whole Foods but we're not going to be real close to it.


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  1. IMHO, Publix is the best chain supermarket in the Birmingham metro area. Unparalleled service with good selections. They have very good meat options. It's the only supermarket (Whole Foods excluded) where I can find good lamb. They have an excellent deli/bakery. Piggly Wiggly's are independently owned and can vary depending on location. The ones I've visited have fairly large wine selections. Winn Dixie's can vary also depending on where they are located. They have great beef and pork selections.

    If you are looking for Hispanic goods (based on your username), none of the local supermarket chains do a great job. Surprisingly, when I need a variety of dried peppers, Masa, or corn tortillas (to make a bowl of red Texas chili), I end up at Aldi's. There are a few Hispanic markets scattered around town, but they aren't usually located in the suburbs.

    Tis the season for farmers markets. So fresh produce can be found under overpasses, on the side of the road, or at Pepper Place (look it up, it's fantastic). Publix has great produce as well, but at a price. Aldi's has limited produce options (which vary from week to week), but their prices are cheap. Avocados for .99, tri-colored peppers for 1.49 for 3, pineapple for .99. pint of strawberries for .99. Save on produce at Aldi so you can buy the butterflied leg of lamb at Publix.

    9 Replies
      1. re: lonestarag05

        If I may be so bold . . . what area of town are you looking at? Perhaps I can offer some localized advice for you.

        1. re: sheilal

          We'll be in the Vestavia Hills / Mountain Home area.

          1. re: lonestarag05

            Vestavia is a fabulous area to live in but not a mecca of great food. Luckily, you're centrally located enough to where no place in the metro area is an unreasonable drive.

            Publix will likely be your market of choice. If you like Cuban food, I recommend Kool Korner. It's a dive, but it's wonderful. Mugshots has a great hamburger.

            1. re: lonestarag05

              Do you mean Mountain Brook? For Vestavia, Snapper Grabbers can be good for seafood. In my experience here, Publix and the Pig have horrible seafood counters (except maybe the Pig in Crestline).

                1. re: lonestarag05

                  Whole Foods is very close to Mountain Brook so you should have no worries there. And let's be honest, if you can afford to live in Mtn Brook, shopping at Whole Foods on a regular basis won't be an issue. I'd love to be able to shop there a lot. I'm like a kid in a candy store. SO much variety. I'm a condiment junkie and I walk out of there with flavored vinegars, hard to find hot sauces, chutneys, mustards, pickled items, & salts. YUM!!

                  Back on topic, Mtn Brook has a lot of really good restaurants, so you won't lack dining options. A local legend - Gilchrist Drugs has a great old fashioned lunch counter with fabulous pimento cheese sandwiches and cherry limeade. A must try for you! Dram/Avo is getting a lot of buzz lately. I haven't personally been, but have read good things about it. Ollie Irene is up for a James Beard award this year for best new restaurants. Local ingredients with a nuevo southern flair. Try using Yelp and Urbanspoon for reviews, menus, & maps. Urbanspoon is mostly for restaurants, but Yelp can help out with doctors, dentists, cleaners, etc. Hope you like it in the 'Ham!!!

        2. re: sheilal

          Sheilal, when are we invited over for some of that red Texas chili?

          1. re: curej

            The next cold spell . . . which will probably be in October. :)

            I just learned to make it this winter. I've always been a ground beef, tomato based chili lover, but this stuff has me converted! Thick & rich, and luscious! OMG! The leftovers (when there are some) are fabulous wrapped in a corn tortilla.

        3. Try Fresh Market when you get a chance. You will enjoy shopping there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Littleman

            Second the Fresh Market. Also, the Winn Dixie on Monclair is getting remodeled (and stocking much better produce, etc.) and is looking very promising...

          2. You will miss the produce at HEB. because it is a Texas chain, it is able to rely on in-state produce in season. And it can be so, so inexpensive. Publix, the Pig and the rest - including Whole Foods -- rely much more heavily on produce shipped from far, far away. But Alabama has great produce at farmers' markets and roadside stands. You'll be there in tiime for the Chilton County peaches and you'll be able to get muscadines and figs for a song.
            Birmingham also has great seafood, trucked up daily from the Gulf
            A culinary hint: when you go into a barbecue place and don't see a picture of Bear Bryant, you probably should leave.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dcbbq

              For meat, also include New York Butcher Shop in Cahaba Heights (part of Vestavia Hills off U.S. 280) and Fresh Market on U.S. 280 near Inverness.
              For produce, check out Murphree's fruit and vegetable market on Cahaba Heights, or (a little farther out) Andy's stand on Rocky Ridge Road. The Summit shopping center soon will have a Thursday farmer's market.
              The Pig often has decent meat, especially when they put the Duroc pork chops on sale.
              Decent wine selections are the MB Western, Whole Foods and to a lesser extent, NY Butcher Shop.
              And when the Saturday farmer's market, Pepper Place, cranks up this month, you need to go. Not only for the produce, but also for locally and sustainably raised meats.

              1. re: Big Daddy

                Pepper Place farmer's market reopens this weekend.

            2. I second the calls for Pepper's Place, although I think it might be the "spring market" this weekend, meaning it might have mostly strawberries and flowers. Maybe not though, its getting bigger every year and spring (summer) arrived early this year.Meat, eggs, and produce are great there when its in full bloom.
              I want to like V Richards, its close and local. But the produce just isn't that great. Whole Foods is the best we have. Same goes with meat. Fresh Market might be better, but its farther out from me (Whole Foods is far enough for me), and I've heard its even more expensive.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Anonymice

                More arts and crafts at Pepper Place today than food vendors. In the spring, it pays to arrive early (heck, it ALWAYS pays to arrive early there). Only scraps left by 9:30. New meat vendors out there this year, too.

                1. re: Big Daddy

                  Should be fully up and running by May. Also, its become so popular its always a good idea to get there really early now. Alabama's hot anyway, so it works for me!

                  1. re: Big Daddy

                    Also, I as reminded that V Richards is basically a high-end super-convenience store this weekend when I tried to shop there. The produce at the nearby Piggly Wiggly is actually way better.

                    1. re: Anonymice

                      That Pig actually does a good bit to source a lot of its produce from Alabama only growers. Not all of the produce will be, but look under the tent area if it's up.

                      1. re: Dax

                        the Summit is now having a market on Saturdays also- I guess it is near Urban Cookhouse....I prefer pepper place b/c i only get a few things but there is alot of stuff there... I wonder if people really buy the jewlery and artsy stuff-i go for the tomatoes corn and fruit....