Lewisville has all sorts of choices as far as grocery stores go, whether you’re shopping at Tom Thumb, WinCo, Aldi or Albertsons. But how often do you shop local by getting your ingredients at one of the culturally centered markets in the city? We found six specialty grocers—excluding the Mexican markets, which will be explored in a future piece—within city limits you can check out.

African Grocery Store sells African cooking oils along with other products such as hair extensions, yams, akamu and oporo fish. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)
African Grocery Store sells African cooking oils along with other products such as hair extensions, yams, akamu and oporo fish. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

African Grocery Store
The store on 1598 S. Valley Parkway, Suite 101 was the first African grocery shop in Denton County, Owner Godson Ugwuh said. It sells nearly 100 items of produce, entertainment and cosmetics that otherwise are found in Africa.

While there are more African people in Dallas than Lewisville, Ugwuh said the other African stores in the metroplex don’t have products in the quantity that he has.

The store sells fresh African vegetables on select Fridays and Saturdays from June through November. Ugwah said he has permission from the USDA to grow the vegetables—ugu, ewedu leaf, anara leaf and anihara, to name a few— in his backyard.

African Grocery Store sells products that are sold in Africa and are not available in most American grocery stores.
African Grocery Store sells products that are sold in Africa and are not available in most American grocery stores.

Yams, at times incorrectly identified as sweet potatoes, are native to Africa and Asia and are difficult to find in typical grocers. African Grocery Store sells this foot-long, starchy root anytime doors are open, not just on alternating Fridays and Saturdays. It is one of the more popular items sold at the store.

Ugwuh is also the sole worker of this establishment, unless he is traveling to Africa, in which case his wife operates the store. Ugwuh moved to Lewisville when he started going to UNT, at the time North Texas State University, to study business ,because he didn’t want to live in Denton. Ugwuh once owned and managed City Beverage on Main Street.

African Grocery Store first opened its doors in June 2015. It is open Monday through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Chokhlei Market
dsc_0146In the same strip as the aforementioned grocer a few doors down in suite 106 is a Burmese market that opened about five years ago. It sells items such as bamboo shoots, peppers, cookware, dishes, candy, spices and snacks. Stacks of jasmine rice bags line the entrance.

In a cleared area next to a reach-in fridge with sodas and M-150 energy drinks, men played caramboot, a game similar to pool where players slide discs across a wooden table into one of the four corner holes. A collective “Hey!” could be heard from the group every so often.

“My country people, everybody they don’t like American food, Mexican food,” clerk Chan Lian said as he checked out a family of four. “I’m sorry.” When asked if this was true, the family laughed.

Regular customer Peng Thang said the store exists because there are a lot of Burmese people in Lewisville. The clerk said he doesn’t see many people come in who aren’t of Burmese descent.
“Chokhlei is beautiful flower,” Thang said of the Myanmar blossoms.

Chokhlei is one of two Burmese shops in Lewisville. It is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 4 to 8:30 p.m.

Chinland owner Thawng Thui explains how to make tea leaf salad, a popular Burmese snack. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)
Chinland owner Thawng Thui explains how to make tea leaf salad, a popular Burmese snack. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

Chinland Asian Restaurant & Market
The other Myanmar-focused shop doubles as an Asian restaurant that includes Burmese dishes. Owner Thawng Thui said the shop opened in May this year and that the store isn’t competing with Chokhlei.

The store’s most popular items are probably the noodles, which can be bought in boxes, cases or singles. Another popular product is tea leaf salad, or lahpet thoke, which is an energizing, dry snack with beans, seeds and tea leaves. The shop also sells wraps and colorful jackets, with prices ranging from $15 to $200.

Thui, who lives in Garland, said he wanted to run a business that didn’t cost millions of dollars and that opening a Burmese shop seemed like a good choice for his family.

“There are a lot of Burmese people. They are mainly our customers,” Thui said. “We want to have other people as customers too, but maybe they don’t know about us.”

Thui set up shop in Lewisville because of the Burmese population. He said the community is not as large in Garland and that there are a lot of Burmese stores in Dallas.

The population is getting bigger, Thui said, and it’s possible he’ll open a Walmart–like store in the years to come.

Chinland is located at 125 W. Bellaire Blvd. in suite 600. It is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 3:30 to 9 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Thursdays.

 

Bayou Market sells products imported from Louisiana, such as Cafe Du Monde coffee and Blue Runner Red Beans.
Bayou Market sells products imported from Louisiana, such as Cafe Du Monde coffee and Blue Runner Red Beans. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

Bayou Market
Bright window paint informs customers they can get live or boiled crawfish here. A trumpet croons in the background at Bayou Market, which was once called Bayou Boys. The restaurant and market, which consists of two glass door reach-in fridges and a shelf of goods, have been around for 12 years. The owners have changed over time.

“The owner, she makes all the gumbos and boudin, everything,” employee Ronda Mikel said of the owner who worked at the market restaurant years before owning it. “We’ll be here 5 o’clock Thanksgiving morning. Last year, she sold 256 turkeys.”

The establishment offers turduckens, a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken, and fried turkeys cooked in Cajun spices. The eatery is busiest during crawfish season, which lasts from March until July.

“It was crawfish season last year and it was really, really busy and so I just stayed,” Mikel said of the time she ate there and began working the same day.

While it sells American items, Bayou Market’s specialty breads, Café Du Monde coffee and Blue Runner Red Beans won’t be found in the average Lewisville supermarket. Everything is shipped from Louisiana.

Bayou Market is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s located at 101 E. Southwest Parkway in suite 118.

Kabayan opened its doors earlier this year and sells Filipino groceries and dishes. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)
Kabayan opened its doors earlier this year and sells Filipino groceries and dishes. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

Kabayan Filipino Store & Cafe
The four–month–old shop and diner began when owner Greg Villanueva’s brother needed a job. Villanueva also owns Press Ink, and when the opportunity arose to open a new shop two doors away, he decided to open a Filipino store. Press Ink is a printing service that works with shirts, banners and signage.

Filipinos come from as far as Fort Worth, Gainesville and Oklahoma to buy Filipino goods at Kabayan.

“Not only in Lewisville, [Filipinos] are everywhere here in the metroplex,” he said in the lobby of Press Ink. “There’s no Filipino store like that in the metroplex. This is the only Filipino store.”

Some Asian stores have Filipino items, some don’t, Villanueva said. Everything at Kabayan is Filipino.

The shop sells items such as sauces, marinades, jarred fruits, frozen dinners, noodles, cosmetics, chips and Goldilocks pastries.

Kabayan serves halo halo, a mixed tropical shaved ice dish, as well as alternating dishes throughout the week. Sometimes on holiday weekends it serves lechon, a whole pig prepared on a spit, by the pound.

The line for lechon looks like Best Buy’s on Black Friday, Villanueva said. It would cost about $400 for a household to get a whole pig and make lechon themselves.

Villanueva is known as Jojo in the Philippines. “Kabayan” means “fellow countryman” or “of the same country.”

Villanueva and his family moved away from the Philippines 15 years ago. They lived in a trailer in Flower Mound, which was more rural at the time, because Villanueva’s brother lived nearby. Eventually they moved to Lewisville because it was a busier area.

Villanueva plans to open a larger Filipino market that accommodates other Asian communities.
Kabayan is at 2305 S. State Highway 121 in suite 165. It is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It is open Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Indopak is open 10 to 10 everyday and provides Asian groceries and Indian food. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)
Indopak is open 10 to 10 everyday and provides Asian groceries and Indian food. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

Indopak Supermarket

Indopak is one of the larger supermarkets in Lewisville dedicated to a specific culture. It is another shop where consumers can peruse the pallets of 20-pound bags of rice. In one aisle, bags of lentils fill one shelf while whole spices, such as black pepper kernels and cardamom seeds, and liters of olive oil fill the other.

Indopak is a chain throughout Texas. Lewisville’s Indopak is said to be the smaller of the five or six stores. It’s the only source of Indian cuisine and grocery in Lewisville, Indopak workers confirmed.

Indopak has been open for about eight years. The clerk said it not only serves the Indian and Pakistani community but all of the Asian community.

Long squash is one of the vegetables Indopak sells. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)
Long squash is one of the vegetables Indopak sells. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

Uzma Jeelani goes to Indopak every other day if not every day. While she still goes to places like Tom Thumb for some groceries, she shops here because it is the closest store with the specialty items she’s looking for.

On this trip, she purchased long squash, Indian yogurt and halal chicken. “Halal” translates to “permissible” and Indopak sells halal meat to satisfy Islamic dietary restrictions.

The attached cafe serves dine-in and take-out meals. It also caters in three tray sizes: small, medium and big. Entrees served include biryani, karahi, curry, kebabs and korma. They have vegetable dishes as well as fish, chicken and goat dishes.

India Bazaar is opening a location around the corner on Edmonds Lane. The clerk said customers tease about the competition but she’s not worried as it’s good to have more stores. She said it will probably have groceries and a restaurant.

Indopak Supermarket is located at 297 W. Round Grove Road in suite 140 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday.

Tune in for our next food list, where we explore the Mexican markets around town.

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