Need gelato, charcuterie and toilet paper? Check out Artista Rosso, a new specialty market on South Lamar

If you need a breakfast sandwich, a scoop of gelato, a glass of wine and a charcuterie board or toilet paper and aluminum foil, you’ll find it all at a new specialty grocery store and all day cafe on South Lamar in the Lamar Union building.

Artista Rosso is a new specialty cafe and grocery store on South Lamar. Contributed by Artista Rosso.

Artista Rosso opened earlier this month at 1100 S Lamar Blvd. with a full-service grocery market, including paper goods, fresh baked items, grab-and-go meals, olives, cheese, charcuterie, wine and even a bar for gelato, nutella and cannoli.

Artista Rosso has beer and wine to drink at the restaurant or to take home. Contributed by Artista Rosso.

On the coffee shop side, you’ll find a selection of pour-over coffees, as well as teas. The store also includes a restaurant that will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with tacos, pasta, sandwiches and other appetizers and entrees.

You can buy a variety of desserts and fresh baked goods at Artista Rosso, a new specialty shop that opened on South Lamar. Contributed by Artista Rosso.

The grocery store is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

On Sept. 8, the store is hosting a grand opening celebration from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with tastings, live music and a free appetizer with the purchase of a beer or wine, with proceeds from the day benefiting Austin Pets Alive.

The grocery store side of Artista Rosso. Contributed by Artista Rosso.


Austin has four of the country’s top 10 grocery stores, according to Food & Wine

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Austin has long been considered a grocery store paradise.

Central Market has two Austin locations, including this one on South Lamar Boulevard. Contributed by Central Market.

The birthplace of Whole Foods and Wheatsville Food Co-op, Austin is also home to Trader Joe’s, Central Markets, a handful of Randalls and dozens of H-E-Bs. We can’t forget Natural Grocers, Aldi, Sprouts, Fresh Plus, 365 by Whole Foods and, the big guy, Walmart.

Suffice to say: We like to shop for food.

Whole Foods Market has a number of Austin-area locations, as well as a 365 by Whole Foods store in Cedar Park. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Food & Wine magazine published a ranking of U.S. grocery store chains on its website last week, and a reader emailed me to point out that Austin has a bunch of the stores in the top 10.

Although we don’t have the No. 1 store, Wegman’s, which is a regional chain in New York, Austin is home to Central Market, which took second place.

From the report:

Two years after Whole Foods went public in 1994, lucky Austin, Texas, hit the grocery store jackpot once more. This time, it came courtesy of the state’s best-known supermarket brand, H-E-B. With almost Europe-worthy retail design, an overwhelming amount of fresh produce and exceedingly good prepared foods, there should be Central Markets everywhere — sadly, you’ll have to travel to one of the big cities in Texas and see for yourself.

Central Texans can shop at Aldi in Pflugerville. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Lidl, which ranked No. 3 on the list, is scheduled to be built in Kyle, but store officials haven’t said when. Trader Joe’s came in at No. 4, and the Florida-based Publix ranked fifth.

Whole Foods came in sixth place behind Trader Joe’s and Lidl, followed by Aldi, which has a store in Pflugerville.

WinCo Foods is a regional grocery chain in the Northwest that feels like a combination of Costco and H-E-B. Customers sack their own groceries, and the bulk and deli sections are enormous. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

WinCo, which is my favorite store to shop at when I visit my sister in Idaho, is No. 8, and Portland’s New Seasons Market came in at No. 9. The Midwestern chain Hy-Vee rounded out the list at No. 10.

I was surprised that Whole Foods was ranked lower than Trader Joe’s, which I think really needs to step up its produce game. Oh, and its bread.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ranking in the comments or on the Relish Austin Facebook page.


Hatch chile cooking classes kick off Central Market’s annual pepper party

If it’s early August, Austinites are getting excited about Hatch chiles.

Hatch chiles are a seasonal pepper that arrive in Austin every August. Several grocery stores go all out with Hatch classes and new products, including Central Market, which is credited with bringing the phenomenon to Texas in the mid-1990s. File photo

The New Mexican chile peppers have been a hit in Central Texas ever since Central Market started bringing them here in the mid-1990s. Whole Foods followed, and now both stores — as well as other grocery retailers, including Wheatsville and Central Market’s parent company, H-E-B — sell literal tons of Hatch peppers and Hatch-flavored foods during this time of year.

Whole Foods closed its culinary center downtown a few years ago, but Central Market’s cooking classes at the North location are still going strong.

RECIPE: A cheeseburger worthy of this year’s Hatch chilies

Why are grocery stores so hot for Hatch chile peppers?


Local grocery stores including Central Market and Whole Foods roast Hatch peppers from New Mexico every August. Photo from Central Market.

They’ve released this month’s Hatch cooking classes, which start on Wednesday with a steakhouse-themed class at 6:30 p.m. On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., you can sign up to learn how to make Hatch tamales, and on Saturday night, the cooking staff will teach a Hatch seafood session starting at 6:30 p.m.

The classes continue for the next few weeks, and you can find the full list of classes and Hatch activities at

RELATED: Here’s how to make your own Philly cheesesteak (with or without Hatch peppers)

Could you tell the difference between a Hatch and regular Anaheim chile?

Headed to a farmers market this weekend? Here’s what you might find

Even in the Texas heat, the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller is jamming.

Last weekend, we were among the customers who tried to get there early enough to beat the heat to buy some groceries for the week. Like all the area farmers’ markets, this one has vendors selling everything from meat and seafood to knife sharpening.

Many of the prepared foods vendors offer samples, which is a big appeal for my young shoppers. Just like when we go grocery shopping at the regular store, the kids were with me to help decide what foods to get for the week, and this trip was no different.

Located next to the lake in Mueller Lake Park, the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller is doing pretty well this time of year, even in the heat. Dozens of vendors sell everything from kombucha and ginger beer to fresh produce, meat and seafood. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

RELATED: Looking for a market near you? Here’s a list of Austin-area farmers markets

Shade is a hot commodity at any farmers market in late July. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

We sampled and browsed the dozens of booths for about 45 minutes before it was time to seek cooler temperatures, but we had quite a haul. Here’s a look at the cool stuff we ended up taking home.

The San Antonio-based Mother Culture sells cultured yogurt. We got the maple pecan drinking yogurt. It cost $12, but the product was rich and almost dessert-like. We each got to pick out a treat, and this was mine. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
These Pao de Quejo (cheese bread) from Lua Brazil were a kid-favorite on our recent farmers market shopping trip. I bought a bag of the frozen pizza ones for $10. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
Buddha’s Brew sits on many grocery store shelves across Austin, but it’s fun to drink a freshly poured one in flavors you sometimes can’t find in the store. We had the watermelon and strawberry lemonade ‘buchas. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
Key lime pie is Murphy’s Mellows‘ bestselling marshmallow flavor, but the kids picked out one of the chocolate packages for $5. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
In both local grocery stores and farmers markets, Afia Foods sells these packages of Mediterranean foods, including kibbeh and falafel. Both boys like the kibbeh, so I bought a bag of 14 for $10. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

It’s safe to say we went on a sampling frenzy. I spent $50 on products I hadn’t tried before, as well as a couple of produce items and kombucha. It was a fun way to spend the morning with my kids and pick up some culinary treats at the same time. We didn’t have to buy so much stuff, but those vendors are working hard out there in the heat.

Plus they are making some really delicious stuff. I could have spent another $50 just on the way back to the car.

Addie Broyles / American-Statesman



Ask Addie: What’s up with this vegan garlic spread that everyone is loving?

When a reader enthusiastically emails you about a product she loves, including an offer to drop off samples, it’s hard to say no.

Majestic Garlic is the name of a powerful garlic spread similar to toum, a traditional dip from Lebanon. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Austinite Susan Sneller isn’t affiliated with Majestic Garlic, a light garlic spread out of California that is only sold locally at Wheatsville.

What was her motivation for reaching out to the local newspaper? “I’m hoping you’ll create a wave of demand that will shake up grocery stores so they’ll stock it,” she wrote.

Sneller told me that she uses the airy spread as a dip or a marinade or with meat, fish, potatoes and other vegetables. She even puts a little of it in  ramen noodles. “It’s very versatile and doesn’t have an unhealthy ingredient in its carton.”

A few days later, she and her son arrived at the Statesman to share three tubs of this surprisingly spicy and intensely flavored spread. We ate it on crackers, and I can see how it would give indigestion to people who aren’t keen on the taste of raw garlic.

Toum is the name of a Lebanese and Mediterranean garlic spread that contains oil, garlic and lemon juice. Contributed by Charles Haynes via Creative Commons.

It turns out that Majestic Garlic is a commercial version of toum, a Lebanese garlic spread that is similar to aioli, but without an egg yolk. (Austin360Cooks contributor Paul Czarkowski mixes the garlic spread with harissa to make a marinade for chicken.) After digging around, I found out that Trader Joe’s makes a version of it, and that you can make it at home if you have a food processor or high-powered blender.

You can find plenty of recipes on the web, but if you want to watch someone expertly drizzle the oil into the garlic, watch this YouTube video from Kamal Al-Faqih, who demonstrated the dip on his YouTube channel.

RELATED: Flautas, miso-rubbed pork and more quick recipes to get dinner on the table in a snap

Majestic Garlic is made with organic raw garlic and cold-milled flaxseed, as well as safflower oil, sea salt and lemon juice. According to the website: “Majestic Garlic stands alone as a delicious, versatile and nutritious condiment, adding incredible flavor to the most simple of dishes, while harnessing the many health benefits of garlic.”

If you want to find Majestic Garlic’s toum, head over to Wheatsville, which is the only place to find it locally. (Sneller says the company will ship the product to Texas when the weather isn’t so hot. They also make Majestic Hummus, a raw and sprouted hummus made with raw garbanzo beans.)

Majestic Garlic sells cayenne and basil garlic spreads, but here is how to make a version of plain toum at home.

Lebanese Toum

You can find a version of this creamy garlic spread in Kamal Al-Faqih’s 2009 book, “Classic Lebanese Cuisine: 170 Fresh And Healthy Mediterranean Favorites.” Feel free to cut the recipe in half, but make sure you drizzle the oil slowly into the garlic and that the equipment and ingredients is totally dry from water. Here’s a little more about the emulsification and why toum is a little different than aioli. Use this spread to flavor meats, including chicken, or to spread on grilled or broiled bread.

1 cup garlic, peeled
4 cups canola oil
1/2 cup lemon juice, divided

Place the garlic in a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse the garlic to finely chop and then start to drizzle the oil slowly, using a thread-like stream. After every 1/2 cup of oil, add about 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, alternating until both are used. It will take several minutes to fully add the oil, and the slower you add it, the better chance that the sauce won’t break.

— Adapted from a recipe in “Classic Lebanese Cuisine: 170 Fresh And Healthy Mediterranean Favorites” by Kamal Al-Faqih


Blue Bell announces the return of two bestselling summer ice cream flavors

It’s hardly worth buying peaches and blackberries unless it’s summer, and this is also the only time of year you can get really good blackberry cobbler and peach ice cream.

These are two of Blue Bell’s most popular summer flavors, which are finally back in stores, company announced on Twitter on Friday and today.

Peaches and homemade vanilla ice cream from Blue Bell. Contributed by Blue Bell.

Starting today, the Brenham-based ice creamery’s peaches and homemade vanilla is on store shelves, joining the previously announced, pie crust-flaked blackberry ice cream.

Southern blackberry cobbler ice cream is a seasonal offering from the Brenham-based Blue Bell. Contributed by Blue Bell.

RELATED: How to ship Blue Bell anywhere in the country

As with the winter seasonal flavors, these summertime flavors will be sold until they sell out. That means, like the peaches and blackberries, they might not last the entire summer, but they are available at retail outlets around the state. You can also order the ice cream over the phone by calling 979-836-7977 to have it shipped anywhere in the U.S.

H-E-B adds Whataburger’s hickory-smoked bacon to store shelves

It all started with spicy ketchup.

Whataburger’s bacon is now for sale at H-E-B, as well as Central Market. The price varies by store. Contributed by Whataburger.

Two beloved Texas brands — Whataburger and H-E-B — have been in partnership for several years now, starting with condiments and now extending into pancakes, salsa and chips.

This week, the companies announced the latest product to join the Whataburger line at H-E-B: Hickory-smoked bacon.

Whataburger’s bacon is sold in one-pound packages. Contributed by Whataburger.

The one-pound packages will be sold at both H-E-B and Central Market, and the price varies by store. Whataburger’s sausage is already on store shelves.

Bacon is a popular addition to many burgers at Whataburger, and now you can add Whataburger’s bacon to your hamburgers at home. Contributed by Whataburger.

“Whether fans are topping mac and cheese or adding crumbles to baked potatoes, we’re proud to introduce Whataburger’s Hickory Smoked Bacon and make it easier than ever for fans to cook up their favorites from home,” Whataburger Vice President of Retail Mike Sobel said in a release. “H-E-B has been a great partner to us and we look forward to hearing about all the unique pairings our customers create with the newest addition to our grocery lineup.”


Aguas frescas, creamy salsa, cecina-style jerky: Keep your eyes peeled for these products this summer

At the Taste of Mexico event earlier this month, I tried a handful of new local food products that you’ll hopefully be seeing on store shelves soon.

Aguas frescas are a popular, refreshing summer drink, and there’s a new local company called Alegria that is selling bottled versions at some neighborhood markets. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Serving a delicious trio of aguas frescas was Alegria, which makes the refreshing drink in hibiscus, cucumber-mint and melon. The drink is currently sold at some neighborhood corner markets, like the Rosedale Market, but with less sugar and more flavor than other aguas frescas on the market right now, you’ll see this product more widely available this summer.

I could eat this Pancho Bigotes salsa on everything, including saltine crackers. It’s made in San Antonio and you can buy it online, for now. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The same is true of Pancho Bigotes Salsas, a creamy salsa company out of San Antonio, with makes a spicy, rich salsa verde with serrano, garlic and cilantro. The company also makes a “chimi hot” version with fresh chiles de arbol and no cilantro, but they are both welcome additions to chips, tacos, scrambled eggs and sandwiches. (I bought a jar at the event it was so good.) Most creamy salsas you can buy in grocery stores now are on the sweet side, but this one isn’t, thanks to the vinegar, spices and egg. With any luck you’ll find this good-on-everything sauce in supermarkets soon, but for now, you’ll have to buy them online.

Amaranth is the key ingredient to alegrias, a Mexican candy that Sweet Tsopelik sells at the HOPE Farmers Market on Sundays. Contributed by Sweet Tsopelik.

I discovered Sweet Tsopelik on the rooftop of Mexi-Arte’s popular annual party. This local Mexican candy company uses traditional ingredients, such as peanuts, coconut and amaranth, to makes treats like alegrias, a crispy snack made with amaranth, agave nectar, pecans, pumpkin seeds, raisins and lime juice. The company, which sells at the HOPE Farmers market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays, also produces tamarindos, palanquetas and mazapanes.

El Norteno makes cecina-style jerky that includes a small bag of hot sauce. You can find them in some convenience stores and H-E-Bs in Central Texas. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

El Norteño Foods makes a line of beef jerky that’s worth checking out, especially if you like the popular Mexican-style jerky called cecina or are looking for a spicy jerky that’s low in sugar. The jerky comes in several flavors, including mango habanero, and they all include a little packet of hot sauce. The meat sticks, which come in lime and habanero flavors, don’t have the hot sauce, but they well-spiced on their own. Find these at convenience stores throughout Central Texas and some H-E-Bs.

When delivery isn’t fast enough: Plated meal kits now for sale at Randalls

We’ve been watching meal kits evolve in the past few years, with many grocery stores, including Walmart and H-E-B, opting to make their own meal kits.

Plated meal kits are now for sale in hundreds of Albertsons-owned stores across the country, including Randalls, Tom Thumb and Safeway. Contributed by Plated.

Albertsons took a different strategy last year by acquiring Plated, one of the largest meal kit delivery services on the market, for roughly $300 million. It’s no surprised that we’re starting to see Plated meal kits being sold in many chains owned by Albertsons, including Randalls, Safeway, Vons and Tom Thumb.

WATCH: The good news and the bad news about HEB’s new meal kits

The company announced this week that the kits, designed by head Plated chef Elana Karp, are already available at four Austin-area locations, with more stores being added each week. The local Randalls stores that currently sell the Plated meal kits include 9911 Brodie Lane, 1400 Cypress Creek Road, Lakeline & Crystal Falls Parkway in Leander and 5721 Williams Drive in Georgetown. All of the local Randalls stores will carry Plated meal kits by July, the company said in a press release. Randalls offers delivery and curbside pick-up, too.

Plated meal kits are also available for home delivery, but Randalls is hoping customers will pick them up in their stores, too. Contributed by Plated.

The ingredients are pre-measured and serve about two people. Of the more than 2,200 meal kits in Plated’s database, the current meal kit options include:

Crunchy Chicken Milanese with Honey Mustard and Arugula
Roasted Chicken au Jus with Orzo and Peas
Beef Noodle Bowls with Dinosaur Kale and Mushrooms
Steak Frites with Creamy Shallot Sauce and Sautéed Spinach
Fresh Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce and Burrata
Pine Nut–Crusted Salmon with Creamy Tomato Farro and Roasted Green Beans

The kits cost between $14.98 to $18.98 in the stores, and you can also still order Plated meal kits via subscription model on the website.

RELATED: How Purple Carrot changed this food writer’s perspective on meal kits

Farmhouse Delivery revamps meal kits based on seasonal produce

When are meal-kit delivery services worth the cost?


Whole Foods’ newest 365 store opens in Long Beach, but with one very big problem

The newest 365 by Whole Foods grocery store opened this week in Long Beach, Calif.

I haven’t been to this newest location, but I can imagine it’s similar to the one in Cedar Park and the other 365 stores around the country — a lower priced and slightly less foodie version of the main Whole Foods stores. All of the 365 stores have in-store dining and drinking options, and that’s where this Long Beach store is already running into trouble.

The name of the store’s restaurant, which serves “Asian bowls for your soul,” is Yellow Fever, the name of the virus that killed 45,000 people in 2013, according to World Health Organization. It’s also widely used slang for having a fetish or obsession with Asian culture and people.

The official @365bywholefoods account shared a photo on Wednesday of the new restaurant, which is operated by a California restaurant owner that has several other restaurants of the same name, and despite many tweets calling them out for the offensiveness of the name, the company has not yet responded publicly.

Here are some of the tweets: