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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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