Noshing & Shopping Near the Alamo

Main Plaza Market prepares fresh, handmade sushi daily.
Main Plaza Market
126 E. Main Plaza
7:30am-8pm Mon-Fri; 11am-8pm Sat; 11am-6pm Sun
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Free delivery in the downtown area

I’m trying to figure out ways to get called for extra jury duty just so I can spend the hour-and-a-half lunch break at Main Plaza Market across from the Bexar County Courthouse. Yes, roaming the aisles is that much fun.

Opened in mid-November, the market is the newest, hippest, most robust food/supply/grocery store in downtown. Owner Dr. Paul Boskind is no stranger to restorations (the revamped Church Bistro & Theatre in King William is his) and his Main Plaza Market is teeming with new life. You can almost feel the pride of regained usefulness emanating from the old walls.

The market is in the corner space on the ground floor of an old hotel. The original Deco-era marquee is still outside: Morris Apt. Hotel. Boskind bought the building a year ago; already it’s showing light-years of improvement.

Boskind’s intention was to open something that would benefit the downtown community. “There was originally a Rexall Drug Store here and I thought a drug store would do well here again,” he says. But the big chains weren’t interested. “Then, everything sort of fell into place for a grocery store.” The businesses leasing space in the old Rexall relocated or closed, and a friend introduced him to Jeannie Eisenberg, a Central Market foodie.

Jeannie is a ball of energy who is enthusiastic about fine food and great customer service. She understands what gourmet-food lovers want and understands that not everyone can spend $10 on a box of cake mix. Even if it is Barefoot Contessa brand and and repays every penny with every bite.

So Jeannie stocked the retail shelves, freezers, and refrigerators with one of the most diverse yet cohesive assortment of food products: From KOOL-AID to Droste; from Fritos to Guiltless Gourmet; from organic to kosher. “I wanted to be sure we had something for everyone,” says Jeannie. “Sugar-free or vegetarian or organic can be hard to find downtown. And we carry items for people who can’t have wheat, too.” It seems she’s thought of everything and everyone. But she really had to.

Dr. Paul Boskind, foodie and proprietor of Main Plaza Market.
“The `senior-citizen` residents of the Granada Apartments shop here, so we wanted to have items they need at prices they can afford. The judges and attorneys come in and so do people who live in King William or in the new lofts downtown. And of course we get lots of people who work in nearby offices,” says Jeannie. “And we fill a lot of gift-basket orders, too.”

Main Plaza Market doesn’t cater just to downtowners; they are also totally tapped into the tourist mind-set. Just blocks from most River Walk hotels, the market provides hotel-room entertaining necessities. Why eat chips from the bag in your hotel room when you can serve them in festive yet disposable bowls? Don’t want to pay hotel prices for champagne and caviar? Drop into the market for a wider and more affordable selection of caviar, pâté, smoked oysters, beer, wine, and liquor. Need a little nosh before bed? Pick up something yummy — or even healthy.

The Go Texan program from the Texas Department of Agriculture is in full swing here, with dressings, jams, salsas, sauces, rubs, crackers, sweets, and more from Fischer Wieser foods, Fredericksburg Farms, New Canaan Farms, and other Lone Star producers. There’s also hard-to-find Sweet Future ice cream, made without sugar and low in fat, as well as LuLu pecan toffee — both made in San Antonio.

“We have this incredible chocolate sauce,” Jeannie says as she scurries to a shelf to get me a jar. “A woman in Houston makes it. The brand is ‘Somebody’s Mother’ and it’s absolutely the BEST chocolate sauce you’ll ever have!”

If walking the aisles makes you hungry, you’re in luck. Pick up a pre-made sandwich or have one made to order by one of the friendly chefs at the deli counter. Try chicken and fontina cheese on hot grilled ciabatta (or whole-wheat toast), stuffed with fresh-roasted tomatoes and touched with a lemon-wasabi spread. You could also heat up a homey meal like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans, made at the Church Bistro and brought in every day. “Some of the Granada residents buy a whole week’s worth of prepared meals at a time,” says Jeannie.

Or simply sip a cup of aromatic tea and nibble on a crisp biscotti as you feast your eyes on the humanity walking around Main Plaza.

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