The new HEB grocery store in Stone Oak opened Friday. By noon, the new “groceraunt” had long lines and cooks were putting out samples to the crowds who came to the opening.
Since my decision was to actually do the week’s shopping here, I prepared myself to go calmly along the crowded aisles and didn’t plan to eat at the restaurant — we’ll do that later. The HEB is on Hardy Oaks and Wilderness Oaks.
In addition to some of the features I’ll mention below, the 80,000-square-foot market also offers a drive-through pharmacy, expanded grocery and general merchandise sections and what they say is the largest beer and wine department of any HEB store in Texas and Mexico.
When you get into the aisles, the store looks like most any of the well-stocked HEBs in town. I found some brands that were new to me, including some packaged Latin specialties from brand Chata — with Cochinita Pibil and (also pork) Chilorio, for a reasonable $3.98.
Store brands of packaged goods, such as Hatch green chile sausages and a jarred green chile sauce were passed around, as was grilled salmon with a cheesy pasta dish at another station in the store. Prepared foods, such as a Latin Chipotle Quinoa Salad caught my eye. I did bring it home and it was good — though I tasted lots of cilantro (fine by me) and not much chipotle at all. I’d buy it again, though.
The wine section was definitely better stocked than my neighborhood HEB. This I judged solely on my own preferences that most HEB regular stores don’t stock — good sparklers for under $20. Graham Beck, Mumm Napa and Michelle Brut and Brut Rose were all there — and wouldn’t I welcome those at the HEB down the street, where we have Korbel Extra Dry at the top of the choices available. Meaning an extra trip down to the Twin Liquor at Alamo Heights for me.
The Boars Head products were greatly in evidence at the “charcuterie” section of the store and the attendants were pushing them hard. I think these are good products, but I did find something I like even better, which was a long, narrow loaf of mustard seed hard salami from Black Kassel. Also pesto Monterey Jack cheese — good in a sandwich with some thin-sliced Italian ham, but the pesto flavor wasn’t very pronounced. A disappointment, as it would have been a good pizza ingredient, too.
The produce aisles were so jammed that I grabbed a very nicely priced box of mixed berries and sliced kiwi at the leading edge of the section. Then didn’t venture in further. The berries: 1 pound 4 ounces for $6.97 of berries in very fresh condition — made me wish the next day I’d picked up two or three boxes.
Where the berries shone in abundance, however, was in the dessert case, where they were lavishly arranged on top of cakes, cheesecakes, tarts, what have you. Beautiful to look at, fattening to eat. We stuck with the fruit and didn’t get the cake.
My bill at the end was $130, but I’d splurged on more than a few things. In-store coupons were in generous display as well, and my final price was a good $6 less than it might have been.
I liked the new store, and it appeared to not be built either on the Central Market plan or my favorite HEB, the Alon Market. But, it’s big — and for those living up in the farther reaches of the Stone Oak area, which I heard from more than one person making their way through the store Friday, was their opinion that this was a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
HEB hired about 350 employees for the new facility, including the restaurant and they will be open seven days a week.