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Austin - Whole Foods Flagship

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Went last night for the second time to buy wine. I was disappointed in their selection and service. Does anyone else feel that way? I also don't think that the store is so "over the top" as everyone else seems to think (and no, I'm not biased against Whole Foods). I do like their soup selection. Opinions?

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  1. I went for lunch yesterday and had a very pleasant experience. I was impressed with the layout and all of the different "eating stations," with their yummy looking selections but didn't really have a thorough look at any of the grocery items. I would never buy wine there because I always buy wine at the Austin Wine Merchant on Sixth. It's easily the best wine shop in town when you're looking for selection, service and price.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Greg Spence

      Where is it? Also, do you like Grapevine Market?

      1. re: rudeboy

        The Austin Wine Merchant backs up to Woodrow's; I think that's at about San Antonio. I do like Grapevine Market but I think that the Austin Wine Merchant does a better job overall. If the selection is smaller at the AWM, it's more than made up for in terms of quality and price. Ask for John Roenigk. He's the best wine guy in town.

        1. re: Greg Spence

          Will do - I've been partaking of the 15% case discount that Grapevine market offers..what is the case discount on the AWM? Is there a website where people can exhange info on good wine deals? I got a good deal at grapevine on a 2000 Merlot - Chateau St. Jean. I usually don't like merlot, but I had this one in a bar and it was exceptional.

    2. I'm not a huge fan of the new WF. I think it's definitely quantity over quality, especially when compared to Central Market. That said, I'm more of a foodie than a health nut and it seems to me like it's really more of a lifestyle emporium than culinary mecca. Their produce section is much bigger than before, but it seems like the displays are just wider. There's been a lot of chatter about their mushroom selection, but when I went, they were mostly dried out. WF's dry goods section is definitely sub-par. It's difficult to find a lot of ingredients. I went today to buy some cured chorizo for my boyfriend's restaurant. It's an ingredient in one of WF's made-to-order sandwiches (which are pretty good), but the charcuterie dept. said they were out. At the meat counter, they claimed they didn't carry it because of the preservative-free philosophy. Hmmm...I agree that their soups are very good. After the initial crowds, which may never wear off, I wonder how they'll restructure their inventory. It's hard to believe that they can really sell all of the perishable ingredients and prepared foods on display. Does anyone know what they do with it all? Do they give it to shelters? Hope so.

      1. I'm not a big fan. The layout is not good. When the eating areas get crowded (mostly are in the evening), it's like trying to move the cart through a crowded bar, which it basically is. And, in some areas there is not space to walk past a person, much less pass carts - passing the wine area is an example.

        It is obviously a better than average grocery store, and it's nice to have a few blocks from my house, but considering the lines, the crowds, etc. - I still drive up to Central Market. They still are geared more towards serious food folks, not people there to see and be 'scene'.

        1. Been a couple of times now and I'm basically as unimpressed as the others are here.

          One exception is the fresh roasted nut bar. Try the jalepeno lime cashews (great with beer) and the honey tangerine almonds. The nuts go stale and chewy in 24 hours if you leave them around in the paper cone wraps. Get them into airtight containers when you get home.

          Last Saturday I stopped by the Central Market on 71 and it was like a ghost town. I think the WF crowds will wain soon.

          Anyone try their sushi yet? Looking for reviews.

          1. Okay, I've just spent part of the evening at Whole Foods - eating, not shopping. I've been won over a bit. We bought a cheese plate at the cheese bar -$10 for 5 cheeses (mostly goat and sheep milk cheeses tonight). With the amount they gave us, we could not have bought the same amount for the $10. Also included was a whole baguette, 2 kinds of grapes, two different types of almonds, strawberries, onion compote, tomato jam, crackers, etc. Again, only $10. And, we got a bottle of wine which they opened at the register (yes, they have wine openers at every register). We went up to the terrace and had a nice snack.

            So, cheese for less than you can buy at the store itself, wine at retail prices, no tipping - not bad for a nice after work snack. You can buy any of their foods cooked fresh and any wine or beer and eat it in their cafe or outside at the tables (or, of course, any of the bars there) for a fraction of what it would cost you at a restaurant. Not bad...

            And, as an aside, we then picked up a couple of six packs of miller high life and headed to Sam's BBQ for dinner. Don't tell me I don't have range...

            3 Replies
            1. re: AustinBear

              Wow - that sounds like an awsome evening. Actually, the first time I went, I met a friend there. He greeted me with an open bottle of wine and a glass. We walked all over the store drinking wine and looking around. Not sure if that's legal.......

              I'll try the cheese plate; generally, when I go downtown, I'll consider Whole Foods a good place to go to get prepared food and retail wine before going out. Your diversion to Sam's sounds right up my alley.

              1. re: AustinBear

                I've heard great things about the new "flagship" Whole Foods. My question is how can they carry a retail beverage license and a consumption license at the same time. Does that exist?

                1. re: scott

                  Places in "wet" areas of Texas that sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption can also sell them to go, if they keep the same hours as a beer store. Oh, and the only beverage you can carry out of a place that has a by-the-drink license is an opened bottle of wine, and only if the place serves food too.

                  Doesn't that just make sense?