Monday, June 2, 2008

Harris Teeter - 1391 Pennsylvania Ave, SE.

Harris Teeter opened on Capitol Hill in May, and I visited this evening. I have mixed feelings about it.

**The GOOD.
+The layout of the store is neat, with areas of aisles, instead of simple, long aisles.
+The archictecture is cool as well, and there are nice tables just outside where folks can sit and relax.
+Organic. There is a prominent focus on organic, smaller-batch when possible, sustainably grown products, and conservation. For example, in the produce section, when I reached for a plastic bag to put my sticky mangoes in, there was a big sign that urges one to re-use and recycle. I remembered that I had brought a couple plastic bags with me, so I used them.
+Ice cream selection. They have MAYFIELD ICE CREAM. This is a staple for Southerners. I saw at least 4 flavors. They also have lots of Skinny Cow and Weight Watchers options.
+Deli meats. There is a large selection of them. I requested one that had no preservatives, and the employee suggested a no-salt turkey, and it tasted as if I'd cooked it myself!
+Salsa. I saw probably 20 different kinds of salsa. Can't wait to try them all.
+Baguettes. They have a clever almost-cooked baguette. You keep it in your fridge, and when company's coming, pop it in the oven for 8 minutes. Voila! Fresh-baked baguette. Brilliant.

**The MEH.
~Cheese. Sorry, but Whole Foods kicks their butt all over town. 90% of their cheese is large-batch and lower quality.
~Seafood. I saw some sad tuna medallions that were cheaper, per pound, than catfish. How do you explain that? The fish did not look that fresh. Although I did not smell a fishy smell, which is a good sign.
~Personal care products. Selection was mighty limited for all that square footage.
~Coffee. They have Starbucks, but you'll pay $9 for it. Same price at Roland's, which is so much more convenient, at 4th and Penn, SE. They have a decent selection, but goodness it's all expensive.

**The BAD.
-Produce section. C'mon! With as large a square footage as the Teet has, there's no excuse for the tiny produce area. The Safeway, located 4 blocks away, is much better. Better yet, wait for the weekends and support local farmers at Eastern Market! Really!
-Cherries were $6 for about 1.5 cups. Ridiculous.
-One avocado: $2.69. Ludacris.
-No Dogfish Head beer. If tiny Capital Hill Liquors can carry two kinds, then the Teet can have at least one. Especially since they dedicated an acre to Woodchuck Cider. Sheesh.
-The 'hood. Regentrification takes time, and the ghetto surrounding the Gentri-oasis is rough. I was a little nervous for a few blocks, as I walked home after dark. I even veered off the sidewalk & onto the street, between 8th and 9th, to avoid a suspicious potential-perpetrator.
-Friendly-but-unhelpful staff. I witnessed the fish guy tell a customer that the hummus, located right over in the next section, was on the other side of the store. I corrected the bad directions before the poor woman set out on a quarter-mile walk to the other corner of the store.

These are my humble impressions. I'll go back there, especially if I'm craving Mayfield. I think that Safeway's better, though. My final word: ALL groceries are ridiculously expensive in DC. That's the one area where Alexandria trumps us. There, avocados are $1 apiece.


Mike Licht said...

The very best thing about the Capitol Hill H-T: It is conveniently close to the Capitol Hill Safeway.

Mike Janssen said...

Another thing to consider is that HT is not unionized. Or at least that's what I've heard. A big reason I don't go. (Though I hear Whole Foods isn't union either, but I go there all the time. Hmm.)