It’s probably fairly glaring to Last Call readers that I’m not a native Texan. My formative years were split between Chicagoland and a tiny little dot on the Northern Illinois map named Byron (Pop. 2,000). The town has the requisite even ratio of churches to bars so typical in the Midwest, along with two stoplights and one colossal The Simpsons-esque nuclear power plant. Considering I have a dog that doubles as Santa’s Little Helper and a father who was a donut-and-beer-loving radiation chemist, I’ve grown accustomed to being called the adult version of Lisa Simpson over the years, soapboxes and all.
Today in small-town Illinois, my childhood friend Patti can buy all the ingredients for both quiche and Bloody Marys on Sunday morning at the grocery store. In contrast, I’d be out of luck entirely in the great Lone Star State thanks to archaic “blue laws” meant to corral people into more pious activities.
“Blue laws” and the Midwest spring to mind during a trip to the new Whole Foods Market in Fort Worth. I was feeling particularly homesick on Saturday after seeing my friends streaming down to Wrigley Field to watch our beloved Chicago Cubs finally make it to the World Series. My boyfriend knows food is a fool-proof way to prevent me from kicking rocks, so we braved Whole Foods on opening weekend to snag some steaks.
Naturally, the place was crammed with humanity and required vigilance, lest your Achilles tendon got rammed from negligent cart driving. Redemption came toward the end of the World Series-Grade Grass-fed Strip Steak Hunt of 2016 as we slid in sideways to a beer and wine bar inside the store. This isn’t just coolers and picnic tables but actual seats and a counter with draft beers and wines by the glass, plus a food menu and flat-screens showing college football.
The bar at Whole Foods Market features 16 taps with a rotating selection of local brews. Steffany Steichen, community liaison for Whole Foods Market Fort Worth, later told me the beer varieties change daily, which affords a lot of tasting opportunities. The wine list has reds, whites, sparkling wines, and rosés available by the glass, bottle, or even can. (Fancy.)
For take-home purchase, Whole Foods also has a growler program. The container wall was full of style and color options in 32- and 64-ounce sizes. If you already own that size container, bring it in, and a friendly Whole Foods worker bee will fill it. You simply pay by the volume.
Side bonus: The drink and dine-in section’s aroma is amazing. Specifically, it smells like the adjacent smokehouse barbecue area. You may order the smokehouse menu items directly from bar seating, making that lunch time lager and smoked short rib-and-sausage pizza (it’s a thing) an easy process.
Does Fort Worth need a bar where we buy dog food? No. But neither do I think there should still be archaic laws surrounding where, when, and what type of alcohol we can purchase as adults on a Texas Sunday afternoon. I’d love to see what kind of grocery-store/mixed-drink mash-ups could come from a less restrictive environment. But until then, crack open a can or two of some Presto Sparkling Cuveé and see how close to the GDP of Finland you can spend in the cheese section.