Grocery shopping is the worst, especially for the sober. Playing battle-carts while jostling other harried, hangry people for the last box of Froot Loops on Sunday afternoon is a drag; the lucky ones among us skate by on a lingering brunch buzz to power through to the checkout line. Thanks be to God, then, that DFW boasts multiple markets where you can drink while you shop.
The list is neatly divided in twos: two Texas-based, high-end supermarkets and two Italo-centric, wine mecca specialty shops. Whether you prefer the fruit of the barley or the fruit of the vine, all these stores afford some reprieve from the shopping list blues. With one reasonable exception, you can pop as many tops (or corks) as you like during business hours, so whether you're a harried young professional looking to combine buying-frozen-dinner business with happy hour pleasure or an off-duty night shifter looking to quench your thirst in earlier hours of the day, you've got options.
5750 E. Lovers Lane
10720 Preston Road #1018
320 Coit Road, Plano
1425 E. Southlake Blvd., Southlake
As the sole North Texas outpost of the San Antonio-based supermarket chain H-E-B, Central Market is a magnet for newcomers transplanted from other parts of the state. It’s still a hustle to fit your provisions in those mini-carts, so Central Market has graciously opened its taps to shoppers. Current licensing prevents them from pouring from the draft lines (those are reserved for growler fills), but guests are encouraged to pick up a bottle of beer or glass of wine and take it away in a plastic cup while they quest for kale.
The beer selection is extensive, and prices range from $1.50 to $5 per brew, with wines falling between $4 and $8. You can drink alcohol during all store hours (except Sundays, when you have to wait til noon thanks to antiquated Texas blue laws), and there’s no firm cutoff limit — though we’d urge you not to find yourself blacked out in a pile of organic avocados.
Jimmy’s Food Store
4901 Bryan St.
Jimmy’s Food Store stands in contrast to Central Market and Whole Foods in a number of ways — it’s venerable (50 years and running), it’s small and it’s focused on all things Italian. Unsurprisingly, it’s really easy to drink wine while shopping at Jimmy’s, particularly regional varietals rarely found at other grocery stores. There are rows and rows of bottles from Sicily, Sardinia and beyond, all of which are very good, some of which are a bargain. You can buy and open a bottle while you pick out your pasta, or opt for wine by the glass for $4.99.
The beer selection can’t compete with all that wine, but it’s there, and you can sip a single longneck of Birra Morreti or Peroni for $2.99. Jimmy’s nicely enforces a two-drink maximum for beer and wine alike during store hours (9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., closed on Sundays), but unless you’re stocking up for a full-on Neapolitan feast, it is an easy limit to obey. Best of all, you don’t have to pay for your drink until you check out. Leave the bottle, take the cannoli.
Whole Foods Market
2510 McKinney Ave.
2118 Abrams Road
8190 Park Lane, Suite 351
11700 Preston Road
4100 Lomo Alto Dr., Highland Park
5100 Belt Line Road, Suite 1012, Addison
6741 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving (Coming soon)
1411 E. Renner Road, Richardson
2201 Preston Road, Plano
801 East Lamar Blvd., Arlington
4801 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville
105 Stacy Road, Fairview
4041 Waller Creek, Highland Village
3720 Vision Drive, Fort Worth
In contrast to Central Market, you can find Whole Foods stores all over the country, and whatever gripes you may carry about some whole-paycheck prices, they’re the other best bet for taking the edge off your grocery run. They offer a similar range of craft beer and fine wine as Central Market, but have the additional plus of carrying the license to set up a beer and wine bar right in the store.
Whole Foods has bet heavy on Texas craft beer. In addition to keeping locals like Peticolas and Texas Ale Project feature prominently on tap, they operate their own in-house brewery down in Houston, which produces beers like Hop Explorer, their American IPA. Drafts run higher than single bottle options at Central Market, generally between $5 and $9 dollars for an 11.5-ounce pour. Plan your trip right and you might luck into a freebie; last week, Revolver was pouring Third Shifts to the lucky ducks at the Addison store.
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Drinks are available from 11 a.m. (noon on Sundays) until 9 p.m. (an hour before close) at most locations. Here, too, there’s no firm limit on imbibing. Just don’t overdo it.
1868 Sylvan Ave. Suite #D-100
Oak Cliff's gourmet grocery/bar/pizza joint CiboDivino carries a more focused selection of Italian goods than Jimmy’s, but that’s not to say it’s an inferior experience, particularly when grocery-drinking. As our restaurant critic wrote last month, CiboDivino carries a well-curated wine selection, including their own in-house label, along with a rotating dozen or so craft beers (Birra Moretti is a bar fixture). Pint prices are fixed at $5 for 12 ounces and $7 for 16, which can free up your shopping budget considerably if you take advantage of heavy-hitting seasonal offerings like Tupps' 9.6 percent ABV McKinney Rye. Wine by the glass varies from $7 to $16 — and the price you pay to drink in-store is actually the same as the retail price, which is a great deal.
There's no beating CiboDivino's location, either. If you happen to be a loft-dweller in the encompassing Sylvan Thirty development, you can saunter over from breakfast taco bliss at Tacodeli, or a smoothie power-up at Juiceland, and put together all the trappings of a tapas meal after you've asana'd out at Sync Yoga. As an added bonus, Cox Farms Market, a great spot for organic produce, is in the same development. Maybe going to the grocery store doesn't have to drive you to drink after all.