Fodor's Expert Review Central Market
This upscale, foodie-friendly offshoot of the giant Texas-based H-E-B supermarket chain is a few years older than its competitor, Whole Foods, down Lamar Boulevard but no less popular (expect big weekend crowds). It's equally serious about the cheeses, wine, beer, meat, and deli products it purveys, but compared to Whole Foods it seems more like a place real people go to shop (rather than gawk). It's a great spot to grab prepared foods on the run (like the good multi-course brown-bagged Dinners for Two for $14), or join the weekday lunch crowds at the in-house café, where an outdoor patio pleases kids and where various bands play Friday through Sunday evenings. Flag down an on-staff "foodie" (yes, that's the official job title) if you have any questions. The market is in the Central Park Shopping Center, which also houses a number of chic craft galleries, boutiques, and gift shops. There's a newer branch of Central Market in far South Austin's Westgate area.