Best Takeout Counter (Grocery Division) - 2003
Whole Foods Market
Some people refer to the place as "Whole Paycheck," because you can spend five bucks a pound on organic green beans. But the takeout counter (or "prepared foods department") at Whole Foods is large, varied and never disappointing. Vegetarians and vegetarian-conscious souls can make a meal to-go as easily as the rest of us. Behind the glass cases, the array of grilled meats, salads, stir-fries, soups, chilled vegetables, sandwiches and sushi look fresh and inviting, much more so than the tubs of slaw and ambrosia dished out at some big supermarkets we won't mention in this space. There are few places where you can load up on sesame-crusted salmon, couscous salad or a brick-oven pizza. Whole Foods states that they use no artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors or synthetic preservatives in their food, but that they do use expeller-pressed oils, natural meats and organic foods when available. Adding to consumer confidence, all ingredients are clearly labeled. For the carnivores among us, Whole Foods dry-ages its own meats, and some of the flavorful steaks show up in the takeout section.