Tustin Magazine
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Whole Foods Market • Jamboree

I was never all that impressed with the Whole Foods Market located on Newport Avenue.  I'd go there to buy a salad and I really liked the selection of high-end beers, but that was about it.  However, I recognize that my experience my have been atypical as evidenced by the consistent crowds there.  You were all obviously seeing something that wasn't apparent to me.

I've joined the fold.  The first time I walked into the Whole Foods in The District, it was close to a religious experience.  All that prepared food at all the different food stations.  I felt like I was walking into a Las Vegas buffet, and I didn't have to drop $20 into the Wheel of Fortune machine first.

The 60,000-square foot store is four times larger than the biggest Trader Joe's store and employs three times as many workers than the prior Tustin location.  The much roomier market features a café, a wine tasting bar, deli and buffet takeout stations, a tea bar, and meat and seafood grilling centers. The latter is equipped with a flat panel TV and a granite top bar for shoppers to take a load off while waiting for special orders.

Putting a premium on convenience, the new store also added a Shortcut Chef center – a spot where shoppers can grab ready-to-grill vegetables for cooking at home. If you're pressed for time, an in-house chef will grill anything from tomatoes to asparagus while you wait or shop.

There is the pasta bar, where you can get pasta dishes made to order; the churrascaria & taqueria, where you can enjoy Brazilian barbecue, burritos and other Latin-inspired flavors; the wine & tapas bar where you can try different wines, but instead of some lame cheese slices you would find at other wine bars, you can try the wine with various food selections.  Then there is the sushi station.  It's no Kai Sushi, but you can get fresh and tasty sushi made to your liking.

Here are some of the other things offered at Whole Foods, taken straight from the website:

  • Meat, seafood, & prepared foods dine-in seating

  • Brazilian barbeque

  • rice pudding bar

  • garden center

  • coffee roaster

  • Korean barbecue

  • tapas bar

  • tea bar

  • freshly grilled and steamed fruits and vegetables

  • pasta bar

  • taqueria

  • freshly baked organic breads

  • gelato and sorbet bar

  • noodle and teriyaki bowls

  • organic beef

  • ice cream cakes

  • hot carving station

  • salad bar

  • rotisserie chicken

  • fresh baked tortillas

  • organic and free range poultry

  • pizzas

  • dry-aged beef

  • smoked meats

  • beef chilis and stews

  • seafood salads and chowders

  • olive bar

  • smoked seafood

  • huge selection of beer & wine

  • artisan cheeses

  • exotic fruits and organic vegetables

  • organic bread

  • fresh flowers and plants.

About 20 percent of the store's space is dedicated to the buffet-style deli, soup and salad bars, international takeout stands and breakfast cafes.  In that regard, it is really a separate category than any other grocery store.

And yes, I recognize that Whole Foods has higher prices than other grocery stores, earning it the nickname "Whole Paycheck," but I don't go there to buy my Froot Loops.  I reserve my trips to Whole Foods for the prepared food and specialty items. For all the goodies, Tustin Magazine names Whole Foods the best grocery store in and around Tustin.


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