It’s Monday night. You didn’t make it to the grocery store over the weekend, the fridge is empty and you just parked your car in a downtown garage. In many cities, this would mean delivery pizza.
Except for the biggest cities, downtown grocery options are typically limited. But downtown Austin is, well, different.
The most obvious reason is that Whole Foods claims downtown as its official home, complete with an 80,000 square foot flagship grocery store that, for many tourists, is among the must see attractions in the city.
Austin’s rapid population growth is fueling new options. Now, places like Royal Blue Grocery are giving downtown residents a bounty of nearby options to restock the fridge or just pick up a bottle of red and a prepared gourmet dinner on the stroll home.
Royal Blue opened its fifth store in June, this one on Rainey Street, known for its inventive cocktail bars set up in houses that have become popular drinking and dining establishments.
In many cities, the lack of downtown grocers has deterred people from moving downtown. Austin is a different story. After all, if you’ve got bars, restaurants, shopping destinations and businesses thriving, why not a place to pick up groceries? People want convenience, especially when it comes to essentials.
Austin’s downtown has about 10,000 residents, and the city has added nearly 2,200 new condo units and 2,000 new apartments since 2000. Meanwhile, there are about 128,000 people working downtown who might want to stock the office fridge or grab something nearby.
Here’s a look at downtown grocery options:
Royal Blue Grocery
With five locations downtown, Royal Blue offers grocery staples, prepared meals, wine and beer. Each location is stocked a bit differently. Each one is open from 7 a.m. to Midnight every day. Locations: 247 West 3rd St; 360 Nueces St.; 609 Congress Ave.; 301 Brazos St.; 51 Rainey St. Website:
Some bring out-of-town tourists here just to see the lush produce, artisan cheeses and chilly beer cave. It’s at 525 N. Lamar, and is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
SFC Farmer’s Market
Downtown: Republic Square Park, at 422 Guadalupe St., fills up with Texas produce growers every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s the largest “growers-only” farmer’s market in the state. Local musicians and games for the kids round out the experience.