Food will always find a way.
This year hasn’t been an easy one on our food supply chain. When restaurants closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, grocery stores — from the big box chains and small neighborhood corner stores to the Mexican meat markets and the artisan butcher shops — found themselves busier than ever, trying to keep shelves stocked with dry goods, fresh produces, dairy, eggs, meat and hand sanitizer.
Farmers sold out of their community-supported agriculture boxes for the first time in years. Food delivery companies that had had a tough time persuading people to pay a slightly higher fee to have food brought to their house were inundated with first-time customers. Shoppers rediscovered specialty stores in their neighborhoods and, with traffic lighter than it had been in decades, ventured to far-off stores they’d always wanted to try.
Farmers markets, as critical food access points, restructured how they operated so patrons could take advantage of buying food outside so they could support Austin-area farmers, ranchers and vendors. Local food brands also benefited. When people are stuck at home and browsing for their next grocery order, they are more likely to want to try a new dip, a new chip, a new drink or a new bar of chocolate that might lift their spirits.
This year hasn’t been an easy one by any stretch, but it has brought a new appreciation for where our food comes from. In this first-ever Austin Food Guide, we’ve put a spotlight on the markets, makers, brands and businesses that bring the local food economy to life. We bring you stories behind some of the smaller specialty stores and the history behind the area’s largest grocer. We rounded up all the places where you can buy tahini, tarts, Takis and tako and recapped the most notable grocery openings of the past decade. I’ve also put together a list of more than 60 local food products that I think everyone in this city should try at least once and explained why Austin has become a hotbed for food entrepreneurs.
If you love grocery shopping, this guide is for you. If you hate grocery shopping or find yourself in a cooking rut, maybe the following pages will inspire you to venture into a store you’ve never experienced and see if the new sights and smells ultimately bring new tastes into your home.
About the author: Addie Broyles has been writing about food for the Austin American-Statesman since 2008. Each week, she shares recipes, cooking ideas, food news and new products with readers through the print food section, Austin360.com and livestreams on the Austin360 Facebook page. She also oversees #Austin360Cooks, an ongoing social media project where Austinites share their own favorite home-cooked meals, including recipes and cooking tips, as well as their can’t-miss grocery products. You can reach her at email@example.com, 512-912-2504 and @broylesa.