“Now this is my town!” I purred as Top Chef Houston’s 13 remaining contestants scurried through the bright aisles of towering ethnic grocery stores, picking up ingredients for this week’s Night Market Elimination Challenge.
For decades, I have visited our international markets like some people visit Disneyland. I started by prowling the grocery stores that once dotted the former enclave of Chinatown, just east of what is now the convention center. My obsession deepened once the first Fiesta Mart opened in 1972 at Bellaire and Hillcroft. Now, I count emporia like Phenicia Specialty Foods and Hong Kong Market among the city’s top tourist attractions — and personal shrines.