Wholier-Than-Thou: Gigantic Food Porn Emporium Opens in the Castro
A lot of people have a real issue with Whole Foods, which has now opened its seventh San Francisco location at Market and Dolores. Crazy CEO, Whole Paycheck, gentrification and all that. This one's on the ground floor of a building that has become semi-notorious for housing a butterfly habitat so that the one percent may experience a sense of self-worth vis-a-vis an endangered species. The comments section of Castro Biscuit actually physically caught on fire. And yet...
It's probably best to treat Whole Foods like Christmas, for people who are grossed out by the commercialization of Christmas. As in, better make your peace with it now, because it's not going anywhere. More to the point, this new Whole Foods is freaking incredible: far more attractive than the other S.F. locations, considerably cheaper than Mollie Stone's, a thousand times more stimulating than Safeway, and, if you pick up at least some of your produce at a farmer's market like a proper California food snob, refreshingly reasonable in price. ($4.99 for a pound of Fuyu persimmons is somewhat outrageous, but at least Whole Foods runs sales. Does Trader Joe's ever run sales? No.) It's kind of a small produce section, too, considering the store itself is 28,000 square feet. You'd think that would be the focal point of the food-porn aesthetic.
Pete Kane You would be hard pressed not to find the right yogurt.
Pete Kane All scuffed up? You can actually get your shoes shined.
A lot of prepared foods are pricey, but the cold salad bar is $8.99/lb., the antipasti $9.99/lb., making a $10 lunch more than achievable. Bulk items are affordable, too (a pound of forbidden rice for $3.99) while $1.29 for 16 ounces of organic pasta is great. The massive, California-heavy beer selection includes Old Rasputin Imperial Stout ($8.99 for four 12-oz. bottles) and a six-pack of Anchor Christmas Ale (a bargain at $8.49), while the wines suggest pairings they way an independent video store's shelves might steer you to a beloved auteur director. Plus, there are those well-thought-out wow factors that would bring a Soviet housewife to tears, like an aisle end cap devoted entirely to kombucha, or a veritable wall of yogurt.
Whole Foods makes an effort to partner with San Francisco businesses, which is pretty admirable when you consider that a new Home Depot will deliberately cannibalize sales from another Home Depot if by doing so they can also destroy all non-Home Depot hardware stores in the area. There are rotisserie chickens from Mary's, and Nepalese food from Bini's Kitchen, which began via La Cocina. And of course you'll find familiar brands, like that Gorilla Munch cereal that liberals feed their children, and the Seventh Generation paper towels they use to clean up after them. The less said about the $25 shoe-shine station, the better, though.
When asked about her response to the haters, a sexy, tattooed associate was unapologetic. "Do I look like I drink the Kool-Aid? We brought a lot of jobs to the community." When pressed, she arched an eyebrow and said, "Look at that beer selection!"
Whole Foods Market, 2001 Market St., (415) 626-1430