Downtown Dallas grocery Urban Orchard Market is officially open, and it has some surprises, including an amazingly well-stocked selection of organic and vegetarian goods that rivals the assortment at Sprouts or Whole Foods.
Located in the Interurban Building on Jackson Street, the market is part of a triplex that also includes liquor store Urban Vineyard and the Bar None Cafe, which optimistically plans to serve three meals per day. The complex replaces the similar Urban Market, which was subsidized by the city but eventually closed in 2012.
Urban Orchard Market comes from John McIntosh, Umair Humeed and Loc Tran, and the owners exhibit a faith in their customers' level of foodie awareness that may not be met by novice downtown dwellers still stuck in a suburban mindset.
The store's inventory includes an incredible selection of organic, vegetarian and vegan products: the entire line of Amy's natural and organic frozen entrees, Daiya vegan cheese, and three kinds of vegan mayonnaise, as well as some items not sold at competitors, such as Pamela's gluten-free and vegan cookies. (The ginger are to die for.)
It has NestFresh cage-free eggs, Greek-style yogurt and every flavor of raw snacks. It has veggie snack chips, organic pasta and a dozen varieties of quinoa. It has ecologically friendly cleaning products such as Ecover and Seventh Generation. It has pomegranate juice, Virgil's sodas, Naked and Odwalla juice drinks, and kombucha tea.
Urban Orchard Market also has a full assortment of produce items and a small bakery that puts out muffins, Danish and cake balls.
It's an ethical shopper's paradise with the kind of merchandise you'd expect to find in Berkeley or even Austin. But Americans are spoiled by and neurotic about their supermarkets, bursting at the seams with goods aplenty at discount prices.
One commenter on the Facebook page grumbled that all she wanted was cheap milk, eggs and cheese. Another commenter groused, "We need a real grocery store in downtown. We don't need an 'experience.'"
But hope springs eternal, and there were also commenters welcoming the market and expressing an enthusiasm and willingness to support it. Fingers crossed.
Though still a work in progress, Bar None has a sushi counter set up, plus breakfast and lunch. Urban Vineyard is fully stocked, with beer from Lakewood and Deep Ellum Brewing Company, plus spirits from Texas. It's an unusual two-tier space with a colorful interior design, and prices on wine and champagne are comparable to any grocery.