An Ode to HEB (and Not from an Annoying Austinite)

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Don't you hate it when the waiter at the Mexican food restaurant gets pissy when you ask for a take home box of 30-40 hot tortillas? Or when you ask your neighbor to make you some like she did in the old country and she gets all judgemental and is like, "I told you, I'm from Malaysia."

Well, those dark times are finished. There's a place, a magical place, where you can cheaply buy as many hot, delicious, freshly made tortillas as your bloated stomach can handle, along with all your high falutin' grocery and beer needs, and it's only 30 miles away.

I'm talking about HEB. You probably know HEB already, either from personal experience or a smug, passive-aggressive Austin friend who always says something like, "Oh, you don't have HEBs here?" With a frownsmile, of course.

But if you don't, allow me to hip you to to the greatest supermarket discovery since clinically depressed housewives found extreme couponing. H.E.B., short for the unfortunate name Howard E. Butt, began in 1905 in Kerrville. Currently based in San Antonio, HEB Grocery Company LP has grown to include the mecca for discriminating foodies, Central Market.

But HEB, whose nearest location is in Waxahachie, carries many Central Market items for a fraction of the cost and without advertisements for those in-store cooking classes your whiney girlfriend keeps insisting you take with her. And for all the lazy philanthropists out there, according to the company website HEB donates 5 percent of its pre-tax income back to causes in the community.

I had my first HEB experience recently and spent the week after playing the part of The Lady Who Talks About HEB Too Much. The coffee! The beer selection! The cheeses! The deli! The bakery! The meat! The beer selection! The tortillas! The chips and salsa! The rockin' store music! The uber fresh produce! The beer selection! I haven't felt this alive since Jason Bateman was on The Hogan Family.

As I later told the 160 pornbots that follow me on Twitter, I was astounded that most people, myself included, don't realize the goodness that lays just a few miles out of their way, inside the HEB. In addition to the 14 hot tortillas I ate in my car, I tried the HEB Cafe Ole San Antonio blend coffee and now I'm consuming five cups a day and my friends think I am having a manic episode.

(They also had a Houston blend that kind of baffled me. Who wants something that tastes like smog?)

I was advised to try the Raspberry Chipotle dip and it was like, 4th-season-of-The-Wire-good, plus I didn't experience any white guilt afterwards. I also brought home some of their store brand chips, salsa and guacamole and they were consumed by my family with such vigor that it made me mildly uncomfortable.

Additionally, they have a vast selection of gluten free stuff if you are annoying.

I'll be back soon, wandering the isles, with the wide-eyed glee usually reserved for women of my social standing at a Kohl's sale, so if you have any further great HEB finds, please let me know.

Follow City of Ate and SundeyMac on Twitter.

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69 comments
candicep103
candicep103

Wow so people who eat gluten free are annoying? What an inappropriate remark. Some people actually get physically sick from wheat. Too bad our society puts it in just about everything premade/ prepackaged. I didnt even intend to read your little entry. I was trying to look up a particular food from HEB to see if it was gluten free and your link popped up. By the way, I think people named Sundey are annoying. Jack ass!

Brittanyb16
Brittanyb16

Absolutely hilarious... signed, Annoying Austinite.

Donna G.
Donna G.

Wait, wait, wait...I think the most wonderful thing about H.E.B. is the fact you do not need 'a card' to get the sales.  Life without 'a card' is divine!

Displaced Austin kid here and tired of carrying every stores' card just to get sales prices.

Yes, I'm an annoying HEB lover!

ObserverFan
ObserverFan

When did people become so obsessed with grocery stores? Between Trader Joe's and HEB ppl act like they're selling orgasms at these places.

Ergo Shipspace 1
Ergo Shipspace 1

They ought to move to South Dallas, with all of the food deserts and areas that have nothing but the run-down C-stores with a limited selection.  Other than that, HEB and their following is gradually becoming the TX version of In-N-Out and their rabid fanbase. 

Texstout
Texstout

There is an HEB is Ennis.

minx31
minx31

"Additionally, they have a vast selection of gluten free stuff if you are annoying."  Wow - thanks for minimizing a serious disease under the umbrella of 'annoying'. Between that and the borderline racism others have pointed out, I've gotta tell you that you aren't nearly as clever and charming as you seem to think you are.

ZardozSpeakstoYou
ZardozSpeakstoYou

Two things Ive never understood abouit Dallas; why are there no HEB's here and why the hell dont they know what a real damn puffy taco is up here?  HEB would kill overpriced Tom Thumb, whats left of Albertsons and give Walmart a run for the money.  As for puffy tacos, dont tell me they are available at Desparados or wherever; I tried those pancake flat things and they suck.  Anyone can make a cheese enchilada but I guess you can only get a decent taco in San Antonio.      

Susie
Susie

I travel every 3 months or so to my nearest HEB, 45 minutes away in Waxahachie to stock up on Hill Country Fare!!!!

seriously?
seriously?

I will refrain from agreeing with the commenter(s?) who mention the racism in this post, as that seems too easy. What really bothers me is that the author - presumably someone the Dallas Observer deems worthy of publishing - does not know the difference between isle and aisle. If you are wandering the isles, more power to you, but you'll probably need a boat, or at least some sort of floatation device.

Sidewalkastronomer
Sidewalkastronomer

The best thing about HEB is you don't need no sinking discount card to get good prices. 

Bob
Bob

HEB awesome?  Either you jest, or your tastebuds are at the wrong end of your alimentary canal.  I grew up with HEB in San Antonio in the 50's and the 60's, and in Austin in the 60's, and have made occasional visits to various stores since then, including, most recently, Corsicana, and they are still somewhere between Albertson's and Kroger on the grocery scale.

There is a reason that Central Market is called Central Market, and that reason is to distract the shopper from the ugly truth that HEB owns it.  If you want quality, you go to Central Market, and pay the price.  If you want cheap, lowest-common-denominator value shopping, you go to HEB.

When HEB makes the jump into Dallas (either before Albertson's folds or when Albertson's folds) you will see what I mean.  Be careful what you wish for.

cynthia m.
cynthia m.

LOVE HEB and have been known to drive through crappy traffic to the one on the other side of the world, aka west Burleson.  However, being *from Houston* I have to say we don't have smog.  That would be Beaumont...

Msmollymac
Msmollymac

HEB is awesome! I'll have to try some of the things you mentioned. I LOVE their Uncle Julio's chips! Great post!

cp
cp

Wow, Sundey, did you just move to Texas? We all know about HEB and we actually have one here, it's called Central Market, where they also sell this magical raspberry/chipotle "dip" from Fredericksberg (that's down close to Austin/San Antinio, BTW...)

As far as the hot, fresh homemade tortillas, I get mine at the La Michoacana. They also have them at Central Market and, well, just about every store in town. No sense driving 30 miles to get what we can get on every street corner.   

Doylehatesyou
Doylehatesyou

Am I the only one here who thinks the author sounds like a racist asshole? Seriously, the Malaysian comment? All dark skinned people aren't tortilla making Mexicans. Is this what passes for journalism in Dallas? Besides, eveyone else in Texas hates annoying uppity Dallas "people."

Stacy Anderson
Stacy Anderson

Love their little frozen Sweet Chicken Chile meals, their "everything already chopped up for you so you really just have to cook it" tortilla soup kits, their bananas always seem better AND cheaper than anywhere else, their produce is generally pretty good, they are the only place I've found that carries Grande Whole Grain chips (although I've not seen them on my last two trips there), and their HEB Texas Toast bread makes awesome french toast.  If only they carried cheese curds (like Central Market does)... but I guess you can't have everything.

A lot of their store brand items are as good as the corresponding name brands (surprised me, I'm not a fan of "generic" cereals, for example, but their version of Frosted Mini Wheats were just as good as Kellogg's).  And of course, their tortillas.  Yum.  Warm butter tortillas... they say 10 on the package but only 6-7 ever make it home... 

It's only a 20-minute drive to Burleson for me, and worth it. 

Allie
Allie

I cannot wait for HEB to infiltrate the Dallas market. I, being from San Antonio, have missed them so. Their "Meal Deals" are awesome.

test
test

I think the real problem is that people are afraid to get the tortillas from the local mexican grocery stores. 

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Now I want to go to Central Market for coffee beans. And Duke's mayo.

But I'm not sure HEB addicts can be nearly as annoying as ex-Floridians and their obsession with Publix.

cp
cp

I'm spending the Winter in Minnesota and I finally got to "experience" a Trader Joe's and I gotta tell ya, it ain't much to write home about. Every time I go I'm annoyed because they're out of something and the people who shop there are in their own worlds. I guess the food prices are okay but to me it's not worth it. Now, the Three Buck Chuck (it's called Charles Shaw) ain't bad so I'll go for the wine, but that's about it. Dallas really does have something unique in Whole Foods. Never thought I'd miss that store but I do. There's something called Kowalski's here and it's great, and it's almost like Whole Foods but with an complete lack of Texas anything. But this store Cub sells Fischer and Weiser. And the Target sells the Cholula hot sauce. 

KevanCurtis
KevanCurtis

I think you just the proved the "annoying" theory.

cp
cp

DFW is Wal Mart's biggest market. That is why the grocery market here is so difficult to break into. A lot of grocery chains are watching Aldi because that was a very big move for them because of Wal Mart. 

Also, Matito's makes a real puffy taco. 

cp
cp

And you can get all of your Hill Country fare at Central Market and guess what else? For the same price! A bottle of Ficsher and Wieser is $4.50 no matter where you buy it! Including New Cannon Farms!

G_David
G_David

Never a shortage of assholes that think screaming about an f'ing typo makes them look intelligent.  Thanks for missing the point of the entire post numbnuts.

cp
cp

And there's a tom of other stores that don't require that too. That's like saying "the best thing about Alberston's is they don't require a..." Oh, wait. 

cp
cp

Sunflower Market (or is it Wildflower now) over on Henderson sells Uncle Julio's chips. 

Smy
Smy

Yeah Chief, I'll take a chinchilla.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Now that your done with your little diatribe, go fix me some tortillas..I would allow sopapillas as an alternate.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Some of us Dallas people hate the rest of Texas. Ever think of that? Ha!

While City of Ate frequently comes across as condescending, elitist, and arrogant, all you did there was not show a sense of humor.

G_David
G_David

I'm in Central Market 5 days a week, and I only buy my tortillas from Supermercado Mexico.  CM's are good.  The ones from the Mexican place are totally kick-ass.

Allie
Allie

You just reminded me... I'm out of tortillas. Damn it.

Allie
Allie

Publix baffles me. Especially the name. I want to know who the hell came up with the name and also, who were the guys who said, "Yeah! That's it! That sounds good!"

cp
cp

I agree. I think this new food writer isn't as clever as she thinks she is. She ain't no Alice Luassade and from the article, doesn't even seem to be from around here. 

minx31
minx31

And you've just proved that you're a jerk - so I guess we're even, hm? 

Celiac disease (the reason for a gluten free diet) is very debilitating and potentially deadly, and I don't think making fun of it is any more entertaining than poking fun at cancer patients - but I guess that's just me. Sorry to be so annoying!

G_David
G_David

No need to apologize.

G_David
G_David

I think they sprinkle crack on those damn chips.  I could almost eat a whole bag at a sitting. And for the record, they started as Sunflower, had to change to Newflower for copyright reasons, now they're back to Sunflower.

Ed Dunkel
Ed Dunkel

Howard Jenkins Sr. And fuck you, Publix is the tits. 

SundeyMcClendon
SundeyMcClendon

I agree with the first two statements. Alice Laussade is my favorite too. But I was born at Baylor hospital, and have lived around here my whole life...and just to prove what a gracious Dallas lady I am, I will pick you up when you are lost in Parker county, looking for Southfork, and drive your rude butt all the way to Collin county without so much as a "bless your heart." ;)

Penguin
Penguin

minx, you haven't even mentioned the damage a gluten-free diet can do to your sense of humor! Everybody buy a bracelet- help Minx and her aunt fight the good fight

http://www.celiaccenter.org/br...

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Now that's as deserving of "pow" as anything I've ever seen written.

minx31
minx31

Yeah, except obviously I can type just fine. Way to go with the clever insult!

minx31
minx31

Yeah, well - claiming that you spent an entire half hour of your life watching 'Man Up' is not going to make me think very highly of your opinion.  Good thing most people don't live their lives according to opinions on sitcoms.

KevanCurtis
KevanCurtis

You sound like the kind of person who wears a carpal tunnel brace.

BigTex
BigTex

Last night on ABC I caught Man Up which was making fun of people that avoid gluten.....for an entire half hour!!!! POWNetworks think your annoying too!

minx31
minx31

3 million people have Celiac disease - not a small number. And you're annoying, too.

Ed Dunkel
Ed Dunkel

Most people don't have Coeliac disease, they're just whiny turds who claim to have gluten sensitivity. You are, in fact, annoying. 

minx31
minx31

Yeah, why don't you tell that to my aunt, who nearly died because of celiac disease?  Luckily emergency surgery saved her life and repaired her ruptured small intestines.

It has nothing to do with eating cheap bread. It has to do with staying alive and not being sick.

KevanCurtis
KevanCurtis

The next time I see someone with cancer, I'll be sure to say: "At least you don't have Celiac Disease!" I'm sure they will say: "Yes, I would much rather go through this soul sucking chemo than not be able to eat cheap bread."

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