Trader Joe's -- Yeah baby, it's finally gonna happen!!!!!

lowsparkJune 12, 2012

Well, the first Trader Joe's in Houston is going to open Friday (June 15). That's the good news. The bad news is that this location is about an hour from my house. They will be opening two more closer (much closer!) locations but we don't have an ETA for those locations yet.

In the meantime, I'm going anyway. I have plans to go up with a group of girlfriends in July, no set date yet but probably close to the end of the month. And I'm going to be going to that area of town June 24 on a completely unrelated outing and I'm hoping to convince my fellow travelers to stop there on the way home. If that doesn't work out, I'll probably go up on July 6.

I'm going to get there. Soon. I can't wait!

So... not to beat a dead horse, but... Would y'all mind giving me your recommendations again? This will be the first time I can actually buy more than just a few plane-transportable items, including perishables! (I'm going to bring an ice chest!)

Yeeeehaaaaa!!!! TJ's here I come!

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Central Market, Penzeys, and TJ's??? That is just so unfair!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 5:04PM
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Houston also has great delicatessens - at least when I lived there - Antone's, Alfred's, etc.

I noticed that one TJ's will be on S. Shepherd, which is an interesting location near a barbeque place on Alabama that is supposed to be good.

TJ's has some really good coffee bean flavored ice cream now, which I serve with chocolate liqueur. Be sure to check the cookie and cracker aisle - very good selection of biscotti, chocolate lace cookies, ginger snaps, etc. I buy their sourdough sandwich rolls, when I can find them, and their flour tortillas are the best, but must be refrigerated as soon as you buy them. Here they have a good selection of orchids for cheap, and I've had good success with having them rebloom the following year.

Their deli selection is okay, and I buy their sliced Provolone, but their domestic Brie is not good at all. Some of the meats are not inexpensive at all. Their selection of nuts is excellent and inexpensive.

I think when you go there, you will just have to browse around - it's a tiny store, not any bigger than the original Antone's in The Heights, if you remember that. We have good Armenian delis here too, but I live a long way from Little Armenia.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 5:41PM
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This is what we always get. It is one of our favorites. We also do buy lots of healthy stuff too. I just can't think of it at the moment.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pound Plus Bars

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 6:24PM
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Sweet Potato Frites, Haricots Vert (frozen), Mac & Cheese (including guilt-free), -- I'll add more later. Oh -- Tomato-Basil Hummus.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 7:08PM
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LOL, Clare, I can't remember the healthy stuff either, when I'm thinking of the Pound Plus chocolate, which I also buy.

I love the triple ginger ginger snaps and Elery buys the Two Buck Chuck, which is Three Buck Chuck in Michigan. I also stock up on the Dubliner cheese and the blood orange vinegar.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 7:43PM
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chocolate chips(above the freezer chests), white balsamic vinegar, Baker Jozef's unbleached ap flour in 5 lb. bag $3,romaine hearts, vino, canned coconut milk-lowfat, spices, almond meal(use as flour),nuts, bottled curry sauce-red and yellow, various cheeses, these are a few of my favorite things.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:34PM
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I buy Ground Turkey Breast - they have several ground turkey products, read carefully if you want the pure breast-also refrigerate or freeze immediately.

Cuban black beans -just heat & serve over rice for a quick side
Vegetable eggrolls - frozen
Better'n Peanut Butter- 2g fat - 0gsat & 0gtrans fat
Spaghetti Sauce - organic - sold in a jar
Garlic flavored olive oil
Spices: South African Smoke Seasoning Blend
Everyday Seasoning - both in grinder bottle
21 Seasoning Salute
I buy the Pork Tenderloins sold in individual one to a pkg - perfect for 2 - 3 people
I also like their Organic whole chickens
Corn hard Taco shells in a box

TJ's is definitely a destination shopping experience. I shop there for certain items, consistently spending $100.00 every few weeks on basically the same items-always buying / looking for the heart healthier foods.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 8:15AM
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I love the chicken cilantro gyoza, there is a cheese and truffle frozen pizza type thing from France (not the truffle flatbread) that is heavenly, but I can't find the exact name online for some reason. The frozen polenta with carrots and spinach is good. The pita crackers, both whole grain and regular are always a hit with spreads, dips or cheese at parties. We like their chicken tacqitos (frozen), too, as long as you cook them until crunchy. Their organic whole chickens are very good.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 11:06AM
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Chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels. Say no more and thank me when you gain 10 pounds. You can find them in the freezer section on the upper shelves.

Frozen haricort verts, most frozen veggies, frozen mac and cheese (this last batch wasn't as good though), simmer sauces, nuts and trail mixes are all worth buying.

If you're an ice cream fan, the coffee ice cream is pretty amazing but the ultimate chocolate is awesome.

As a seasoned TJ vet, I recommend that you DON'T go to TJs during the first couple weeks they are opened. They open a store with somewhat standard fare and may not have everything we all rave about. Plus the entire world will be there and the stores are never big enough to move around or leisurely shop.

Better if you can go during the Wednesday. Weekends will be c-r-a-z-y for a while....especially if the store sells wine!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 11:19AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I love their frozen fish, particularly the fish pieces but they are hard to find. great prices per pound when they have them. I really stock up when they have mahi mahi pieces for 3.49 a pound.
I don't buy much pre cooked foods but do like their olive oil, nuts, smoked oysters, dried cherries, garlic naan, gnocchi, harvest grain blend, rice, orange champagne vinegar, multi grain crackers and bacons.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 11:39AM
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I knew our CF friends would make a comprehensive list for you; have fun! I stopped at TJs in Atlanta (the closest to me) on the way home to Tampa. In addition to my normal non-refridgerated items, I found 2 unexpected items:

1) Dry cat food. I make my furbabies' food but the vet suggested dry food as well. I am very focused on the ingredients so I was surprised to see that ingredients were acceptable and priced reasonably compared to the realistically healthy brands offered at the pet store.

  1. I won't name this item so as not to put this fun thread in flame throwing mode LOL. I'll email you. But I was delighted to find what is a staple item in my pantry but one that I have to order online with high shipping costs.
    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Ok, mustangs, I am racking my brain to think of what could be so controversial!

Some prepacked high fructose, hydrogenated cookie/cracker?
You would get flames telling you homemade is better...healthier...

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 2:28PM
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I remembered the pizza like tarte that I was referring to in my recommendations: Tarte d'Champignon - I was mistaken in that there are no truffles, but a variety of mushrooms and emmantal cheese - no meat.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 3:33PM
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Cathy, I am wondering too!!

May, I go to TJ's, an hour away, for the British Muffins, the whole wheat bread, and the not-ultra-pasteurized cream.
Triple Ginger cookies are very good. Like Lars, I find some of the cheese to be very good and very reasonably priced but some not. I like the Havarti but do not like their Manchego. Recently they had some excellent Gorgonzola. The little packets of beef broth concentrate have disappeared, and I miss them very much. They still have the chicken packets.
I'm always wishing I could try the ice cream treats but an hour's drive would not be good for them.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 4:49PM
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The closest TJ store is about an hour's drive from our house - sometimes longer depending on traffic. My two favorite items are their canoe shaped reusable shopping bags and their seafood cocktail sauce.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 11:21PM
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I am making a looooonnnng list! Thank you all! Please keep 'em coming!

Lars, the one on S. Shepherd is going into the old Alabama Theatre (if you know where that is) which was most recently a Bookstop. That location will be about 5 minutes from my office so it will probably become a regular lunchtime jaunt for me.

Cathy, I got your email, thanks!! I will respond tonight. :)

dees, Ya! I know! I should avoid weekends for at least a month! But I simply cannot wait since I'm going to be close by anyway. If we get there and it's crazy, maybe we'll back off but I just have to try! What can I say?

cloudy, Take an ice chest when you go. Ice cream and other frozens should be able to withstand an hour drive if packed well. At least, that's my plan. I'll let you know how it pans out.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 11:06AM
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I wish they would open in Canada.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 1:58PM
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In my area ~ the worse time to go to TJ's is anytime~lol~ but especially after work. I avoid all stores on weekends, but sometimes go to TJ's on the weekends. It is a great people watching place :~)

I forgot to mention, another great product is the Organic Roasted Red Pepper Soup in a carton. And love the Hummus.
We also like the Flatbreads, but they are local, so the quality could be a regional thing.

What we do not like is the Pizza dough balls, but they seem to sell many.

A service they provide here, is you can call with a specific item(s) and they will pull it for you and have it waiting for pick up. I have never used it, but should occasionally.

Have fun-take your reading glasses & your patience!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 3:09PM
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Ours opens in Fort Worth tomorrow, too! I'm excited, but weary with the thought of the 45 minute drive. Why, oh, why couldn't they have put it right beside my favorite Central Market in Southlake????

I've only been to a TJs in California, but I remember a to die for chocolate covered caramel sprinkled with sea salt. You can bet I'll be looking for those. lol

I'm probably going to bypass tomorrow's festivities and go sometime next week.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 6:30PM
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Last week, I visited my first TJ's (and my first Whole Foods AND World Market). Since I was a 14-hour drive away from home, I couldn't get much, but I did get Baker Josef's White Whole Wheat flour at less than half the cost of the KA available at home, and I got a big bottle of extra virgin Greek Kalamata oil cheap, too.

I was enthralled with both stores, and I'm wishing on stars that some will open in my area someday.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 1:44PM
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May, I realize I'm just now posting and am probably too late for your maiden neighborhood voyage. For future reference, I really like:
Orange Mandarin Chicken (Frozen Foods) This is as good as take-out, but you don't have to run.
Organic Broccoli (Frozen) It's refreshing to find organic produce in the frozen foods section.
Green Chili, Chicken & Cheese Tamales (Frozen) Better than many restaurants. Around HERE.
Mini Croissants (Frozen) So nice to have freshly baked at home!
French Vanilla Ice Cream (Frozen) This is incredible.
Low Sugar Strawberry Jam Amazingly good if you like/need a lower sugar product.
Peanut Butter
Basmati Rice
Cereals - Shredded Wheat, Rice and Toasted Oaty-O's
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Vanilla Bean Joe Joe's Better than Oreos. Really.
Meyer Lemon Thins One of my favs. These make great ice cream sandwiches are are especially grood in the summer.
Sensitive Skin Facial Wipes Love these for traveling.
Pretzel Roll Buns (Bakery) Great sandwich buns.

There are others (I can't think of them right now!) but these are my favorites. Have fun at your new store with your girlfriends. I remember when our local TJ's opened; I was so excited!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 4:14PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I went today and bought a "New" item, Pure maple syrup, grade B, 25 ounces for 13.99. that's a good buy!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 4:47PM
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Oh, one staple I forgot I always buy are Organic Potatoes!

Bumblebeez is right about the maple syrup.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 5:14PM
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Bumble, I wonder if that Maple Syrup is a downsized version of what Loves2cook4six sent me. It's 32 ounces of Pure Grade B Maple Syrup.

CdL, Sounds like you are really taking advantage of your new TJ's.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 5:35PM
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Oh, one staple I forgot I always buy are Organic Potatoes!

Bumblebeez is right about the maple syrup.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 5:42PM
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i can't believe hat no one mentioned their sour dough bread......beter than any.
do not by pass their health Zinc is something i take when i get th frst sign of sickness. their wild rice is wonderful, very little is not up to par...Lamb for 1/2 the cost..i am so excited that we will finally have one in Tampa, fl do, take a cooler with you...and you may have to stand in a long line, but it is worth it

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 6:17PM
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Lindainflorida, I thought that SRQ was as close to Tampa as they will get (Sept 7). Have you been privy to some information that you can share?


    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 6:46PM
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Oh, I hope you get one in Florida! Cathy, yep; I'm a frequent regular now!

Yes, the sourdough is very good. I also like their Italian bread for garlic toast, and their Panne makes incredible toasted cheese sandwiches. Seriously. It is so nice that it is already sliced. The Panne also makes The Best French Toast. You can take my word on this!

I'll stop now !

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 8:04PM
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Yay! We have a TJ's a little over an hour away now, which gives these threads a whole new meaning.

We have a few staples, orange champagne and white balsamic vinegars, nice little heirloom cherry tomatoes, grade B maple syrup, sesame cashews and we just found the cinnamon almonds. The tuna canned cat food is our cats' favorite treat...they yell if they don't get a spoonful every morning. Will have to try the dry. There are some jalapeno cheeto-ish thing that are pretty good. And a pasta/grain mix that I can't remember the name of. Their ready-made herb pizza dough isn't bad either. And fun cheeses. And triple ginger cookies...mmmm.....

We've been exploring the fresh salads and frozen foods. Their salads are excellent. I pick up those and a very nice little margherita pizza for lunches. Also grab some frozen cheese enchiladas and I've tried a couple of frozen pasta entrees that were entirely acceptable for an instant lunch. A tortellini with a red pesto and pasta w/ pesto and vegies.

And we seem to be the North Idaho distributors for Two (forty-nine) Buck Chuck. Walked out with four cases last time, lol.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 8:26PM
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beachlily z9a

I have to say this, although I've been resisting. Like you really are deprived living in Houston without a Trader Joe's. You wouldn't live a minute here in the outback.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 9:19PM
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Oops. It's Tuscan Pane bread, not Panne, which is crusty & delicious.

OK, I'm done now!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 9:19PM
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Oooh yeah, I've had a couple of their vinegars and they are good. And their olive oil. Thanks for reminding me.

Cathy- I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you to get one near you.

Claire - you are not too late. They opened yesterday and I hope to go a week from today.

beachlily, yes, you are right! I'm a spoiled brat! And glad about it. I could go to the outback. For a day or three. But then I'd need to come back to my cushy life here. :)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 10:15AM
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I get some things already mentioned like the white balsamic vinegar, chocolate chips, cereal & the tall bottle of pure maple syrup (it is a good deal but we have to use one half shelf in the fridg just to store it). I also get the mulitgrain baking mix that I use for pancakes, occasionally the cornbread mix, dried fruit, coconut oil since I read about it on here, some herbs & spices. I love their moisturizing cream in the white pump bottle with the hot pink label. Tried their toothpaste, but the kids & husband don't like it. Their graham crackers, BBQ sauce & honey wheat pretzels, as they don't have high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. My son likes the red pepper spread with eggplant & garlic.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 10:56AM
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Elba1, I use TJ's red pepper spread with eggplant & garlic for my roast pepper soup.

Cathy's Adjusted Roasted Red Pepper Bisque
1 jar TJs Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Dip or mild Ajvar
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste

1. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan. Add the onion and rosemary and cook for 5 minutes. Discard the rosemary.
2. Add the peppers and stock to pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the tomato paste. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Use stick blender to puree soup.
3. Stir in cream and season with salt.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 11:27AM
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If they have the frozen raspberry or blueberry tartes from France (about $7 ??) you will love the burst of flavor - a thick bottom crust - very good with the fruit.

Have not liked many of the Mexican items (frozen or jarred salsas - very vinegar-tasting) except for the Pineapple Salsa. Great on tamales.

Another that's not mentioned is the frozen edamame - nutrition packed and great in marinated 'salads' - particularly nice paired with their bag of roasted corn.

Frozen individual salmon spirals with a white 'turban' of sauce on top (worth the price - up from $2.99 to maybe 3.49 ?) - better than the salmon I get from CostCo.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Thanks Mustangs - I'm sure he will like that!

I also get the raw organic honey at TJ's.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 9:39PM
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Congrats! You'll be able to enjoy that good ole "Two Buck Chuck wine!"

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 2:07AM
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Well, I went on Sunday! It was fun. We got there around 930 am and it wasn't too crowded at all. By the time we got done shopping and left, though, it was starting to get really busy so we hit it at a good time.

I bought about $70 worth of groceries with no perishables and no wine. (It's against the law to sell alcohol before noon on Sunday so the wine & beer were off limits.)

They were out of and/or just didn't have several items I was looking for. The cashier said they were still adapting to this new demographic.

I'll be going back in a few weeks. After that I may wait till they open the one near me, target date for which is Sep. 21.

Thanks for all the input! It was definitely a fun visit!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 2:44PM
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I've just skimmed through these posts, so forgive me if someone already mentioned this...But for future reference, in the late fall the nearest TJ's to me (1 hr. away) carried Brussels sprouts that were still attached to their huge stems. Some are more than a foot long!

These were so fresh, tender and delicious when roasted that everyone was eating them like candy. We went back a couple weeks later and had requests to pick up more to drop off to friends and family. So yummy -- am craving them now!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 7:20PM
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Had a disappointing experience with Trader Joe's today. We bought a couple of already-cooked things because of the heat. I'd had the lemon-pepper chicken before and it was pretty good. This time it was so tough it needed a sharp knife. I found it completely unappetizing and ate less than half of a small breast half. If I remember (I only go there a few times a year) I'll ask for a refund.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 8:40PM
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May, you and I gotta talk! TJ in Houston?

I'm skimming posts so..I'll see you soon?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 12:40AM
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That's too bad, Cloudy! Definitely get a refund. As I was checking out the cashier made it a point to tell me that they are happy to refund money on any of their products for any reason including that you just didn't like it. He said they do that in order to encourage customers to try things on spec.

Yes!! Call me any time. Let's do a Trader Joe field trip! New store (near me) opens Sep 21 but if you come before then, we can do a trek up to The Woodlands. Fun fun fun!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 11:17AM
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