Hidden Gems

Discover Houston's Best Community-Led Grocery Stores

Discover authentic ingredients, tantalizing tastes, and diverse cultural flavor at one of these great community-oriented grocery stores.

By Shelby Stewart Published in the Summer 2022 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Aguas frescas at Mi Tienda

Image: Alice Levitt

Houston is home to some of the nation’s largest African, Latino, and Asian communities. And luckily, with the city’s multicultural layout, we’re able to have markets that provide supplies and serve cuisine catered to the different pockets of the city. Are you looking for fried mackerel? You’ll find massive ones in the butchery at Viet Hoa in Chinatown. On the hunt for authentic Turkish simit? You’ll find yourself right at home when walking into Acacia Food Mart in Southwest Houston.

Pursue your passion at these great community-led grocery stores.


Indo-Pak and African
Texas Grocers & Halal Meat Market
13321 Old Richmond Rd, Ste B

This Southwest Houston outlet has a diverse selection of goods ranging from Pakistani to African delights. Raw spices, such as curry and turmeric, can be bought in bulk, plus grab traditional snacks like mango pickles and Dhana Dal. But most notably, the market is known for its fresh halal meat selections, especially lamb and goat. 

Asian
Viet Hoa International Foods
8300 W Sam Houston Pkwy S, Ste 1000

Viet Hoa is a one-stop shop for Southeast Asian ingredients from Chinese to Filipino, especially for exotic fruits like durian and soursop. The market also provides a wide seafood selection, including blue crab and squid. And if you’re not in the mood to cook from scratch, a visit to this Chinatown market is still worthwhile with to-go offerings like roasted duck or pan-fried rice.


Middle Eastern, Asian
Afghan Halal Market
6409 Hillcroft St

Items at Afghan Halal Market aren’t limited to Afghani goods and ingredients: the market carries wide selections of Indian, Pakistani, Arab, and Persian groceries, too. You can also feast on Indian jalebi, dried fruits and nuts, and Turkish delight shipped from Istanbul to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

 

African
G&J African Market
12800 Veterans Memorial Dr

This modest market may be small, but rare finds like Cameroonian peppers and Nigerian yam flour make it worth the drive. The smell of freshly baked Ghanaian bread and puff-puff in the bakery is evident throughout the store. Whether you prefer Ghanaian or Nigerian jollof rice, you’ll be in luck because Auntie Jane, the store owner, cooks both. What makes G&J superior is its best-kept beauty secret: a treasure trove of fresh, raw shea butter, straight from the motherland. 

 

Fresh bread at Almadina Supermarket

Arabic
Almadina Supermarket
3210 Hillcroft St 

At the intersection of Richmond Avenue and Hillcroft Street, you’ll find what looks like a former Walgreens from the outside. Inside, however, is a mecca for Arab dishes—whether that’s Egyptian knafeh or baba ghanoush. The biggest highlight you’ll encounter is the freshly baked bread section. Almadina has an array of savory Arabic baked goods from the North Indian pita bread Roghni naan (perfect with baked chicken tikka) to Manakish, a flatbread topped with za’atar, a blend of sesame seeds, sumac, and thyme. 

 

Mediterranean
Acacia Food Mart
11821 Wilcrest Dr

This specialty store feels like it was plucked right from the streets of Turkey and placed in the Bayou City because of the rare finds you won’t find anywhere else, such as flaky baklava and soft, fruit-filled Damla candy. The displays of Middle Eastern sweets greet you when you walk in, but the real treats are authentic Turkish goodies like tea and simit (bread rings). 

 

Caribbean 
Miss Lou’s Caribbean Grocery
8541 W Bellfort Ave, Ste F

At the corner of Bellfort Avenue and Gessner Road is Miss Lou’s Caribbean Grocery store. This Jamaican market imports all things Caribbean (including the clothes!), mainly boasting shelved goods, but in just one trip to the small Fondren-area mart, you can scratch festival bread mix, callaloo, mauby bark, and spiced buns off your list. And if you’re lucky, you can meet Miss Lou herself, and she’ll give you her special sea moss drink. 


Filipino
Pinoy Store ATBP
2817 Miller Ranch Rd, Ste 313, Pearland

Tucked away in Pearland is Pinoy Store ATBP, a mom-and-pop shop selling Southeast Asian goods. Narrow aisles and abundantly stocked shelves carry brands and ingredients native to the Philippines, such as Canton noodles, wonton wrappers, and everything you need to rustle up pancit (a traditional noodle dish). The store is a bit compact, but it has a back door that leads to more stock and a selection of frozen fish, chicken, and pork. 

 

Dominican 
Dominican Grocery & Deli
9392 Richmond Ave

Fresh plantains, rice, and beans at the Dominican Grocery & Deli, housed in the Center on Richmond strip, bring Santo Domingo closer to Space City. Displays of the Dominican flag immediately welcome you, starting right at the front door. Snacks such as Dominican salami and sweet orange dessert bars crowd the humble market. If you want a real taste, mosey on over to the deli, where fresh tostones, guineítos verdes, and empanadas are all served cafeteria-style.

 

Image: Mi Tienda

Latin
Mi Tienda
3800 Little York Rd

This store is more like a bazaar—easily comparable to a Super Target or even Walmart—but that just means all of your South of the Border needs will be satisfied. Piñatas adorn the ceilings, and fresh flowers bloom at the entrance. As you walk through the aisles, you feel the pulse an authentic Mexican market because of the atmosphere: Latin music playing, butchers cutting fresh meat for customers, and shoppers dining at the in-store restaurant. Mi Tienda is a one-stop shop for carne asada, chicharrones, refreshing aguas frescas, and horchata. Beside the exquisite features of the market itself, an additional plus are the food carts outside serving authentic Latin street food, from eloté to tamales. 

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