A Trip to Central Market in Austin

I’m just getting back from a trip to Austin, Texas, for the International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference.  It was my first time in Austin and I was told I had to visit the Central Market — an amazing grocery store that you’ll only find in Texas. So after my presentation was over, that’s exactly what I did.  I hitched a ride with some colleagues and we drove to the original Central Market. I soon found out why this is a top tourist destination in Austin that attracts 2 million guests a year.


For starters, take a look at the chile display above. Maybe you’re only going to get this in Texas, but how wonderful to find such a wide array of dried chiles.  And I love the Scoville scale that was posted above the chiles to indicate the degree of heat.   There was also a salsa bar where you can buy freshly-made guacamole and a wide variety of salsas.


IMG_0829The produce section at the Central Market was incredible.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen better anywhere. They had everything! I was especially amazed at the variety of purple produce on display.  I’m quite enamored with purple vegetables and I’ve written about these vibrant-hued vegetables several times, including In Praise of Purple Produce. Take a look at these beautiful purple baby artichokes…

IMG_0821Here’s purple kohlrabi…

IMG_0822and purple carrots.

IMG_0823I’ve never seen a bigger variety of fresh mushrooms.

IMG_0824Take a look at these giant portabellas.

IMG_0825Central Market is a must-stop for anyone interested in tracking trends, and I spotted several innovative products while we were there.  For instance, there was an entire section of dinner kits that shoppers can take home to make quick meals — like this vegetable fried brown rice kit.  All of the kits included pre-cut, pre-measured ingredients that were ready for quick assembly at home.  Great idea, I think.


The bulk section featured several interesting products, including this falafel mix to easily make this Middle Eastern favorite at home.

IMG_0837The packaged food section included products I’ve not seen anywhere, like these flavored kale chips.

IMG_0835Nut butters are coming on strong as a trend, and I spotted several different varieties…


Blood orange has become a popular flavor and I spotted this Italian soda…


I was only in Austin for three days, and most of the time in the conference hotel.  The Central Market was my only real side-trip — and it was well worth it. I found it especially incredible that Austin has Central Market, as well as the original Whole Foods — which is a full block long. Some nice food shopping in Austin, I must say.

Do you know the Central Market?

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  • Wow, that salsa bar looks amazing!!

  • How fun! I wish I had made it there, but I guess there is always a next time. It was great meeting you.

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  • Janet

    Thanks for the visit, Kalyn. Yes, the store was truly amazing! And it was was great meeting you too. Loved your session!

  • Central Market is probably my most missed thing about Texas!

  • When we lived in Dallas-Ft Worth (Southlake, to be exact), I lived just a mile or two down the road from a Central Market. It was probably what sold us on our neighborhood 😉 It was the first destination I took my husband to when we were visiting before we relocated there. For folks who’ve never been, it’s quite a surprise. And much like Lauren above… it’s probably what I miss most.

  • Really? I had no idea! It’s a fantastic store…and I became so envious, wanting one in my neighborhood!

  • Oh, how I had visited Central Market! It looks amazing, your pics seem to do it justice! Visiting grocery stores and markets when I travel is one of my absolute favorite things. At least I got the giant Whole Foods down!

  • We moved to Fort Worth about 3 years ago and moved to a house that was just a few blocks from Central Market. We had no idea what it was, but fell in love within days. I still have trouble describing it to people. it’s a cross between Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and an Upscale grocery store..

  • This looks fantastic, I’ve never heard of the Central Market. I recently posted about Kaia though, they are a great company.

  • Central Market is a regular stop during my grocery shopping Saturday morning! I love that place, and I am fortunate to live in Coppell, Texas (suburb of Dallas) where there are several within a short drive from me. Next time you are in Austin, make sure to stop at the Whole Foods there at 5th and Lamar. It is the flagship store- and GINORMOUS. Truly a beautiful place, too 🙂 Glad your time in Texas was well worth the heat 🙂

  • HEB sells some Central Market stuff. I just tried the delicious Italian soda. Yum for my tum. 🙂

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