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Quitting Gristedes - need better place downtown

  • z

Last night I went to Gristedes and have once again, have an awful shopping experience.
Between the not being able to find lady fingers, price inconsistency between the advertised price and the scanned price, refusal of manager to check, and just being fed up with the place, I need a new late-night market.
How do you guys who live in downtown/Battery area deal with this? It seems like one of the poshest areas has the worst supermarkets. Is there any place there that's not outrageously expensive to buy something?

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  1. The Gristedes on W. 4th St. near 7th Ave. is every bit as bad. I've found so many rotten things there and nobody is interested in helping the customers. We all need better markets.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sybil

      Gristedes has always been the lowest on my list of NYC chains.
      (For those of you that remember the 'Red Apple' chain - they were really, really the worst...filthy, poorly stocked stores - I believe they were bought out by Gristedes.) 'Associated' has improved their stores. D'ags is nice, but their prices lately have skyrocketed. $1.09 for a Dannon yogurt, while Westside Market sells it for $.67. A $.42 difference on a 6 oz. container...OUCH!!!

      I live on the UES and schlep groceries home from Whole Foods (7th Ave. and Columbus Circle), Garden of Eden on W. 23rd St. All time fav: Food Emporium on E. 59th St.

    2. t
      Two Fisted Gutter Poet

      That's what you get for living in one of the "Poshest" areas. Move to an ethnic area and you can eat like a king on a peasants pay...

      3 Replies
      1. re: Two Fisted Gutter Poet

        actually i don't live there.
        I live in brooklyn where the plethora of ethnic markets (one 24/7 too) help keep my stomach and wallet happy.
        If I actually live in downtown, I would probably plan all my shopping in Chinatown.
        Alas, since I don't live there and not familiar with the local markets (if theres such a thing), and thus no planning possible, I decided to look for a less punishing way to feed myself.

        1. re: zorgclyde

          When i lived on rector place bpc, we had 2 gristedes and I admit I went there often because it was so convenient. If i had time i would go to chinatown for fruits and vegetables and that was rare. I also do pathmark if I can and take the m9 straight to my building. Sadly there is no place good. Now I live by Union Sq and I cant imagine any place better.

          1. re: csw

            I used to live on Rector too - those neighborhood supermarkets were the pits. Really disgusting. So sad considering one of them was right on my corner and couldn't have been more convenient. I almost never shopped there, except for basic needs like paper goods or milk and juice.

            For all other food I always went out of the neighborhood, preferring the long schlep and inconvience of having to drag home bags of groceries by hand then spend my money at those stores.

      2. the gristedes on 34th and 3rd is absolutely disgusting. rotting fruit, expired milk, eggs, juice, etc., and huge discrepencies between prices. i do my best to avoid it and usually end up ordering fresh direct.

        as for downtown, you can try the amish market (just north of battery park) or zeytuna which is on the corner of maiden and williams i believe.

        1. f
          Fred and Wilma

          I live on University Place which means a five minute walk to Gristedes, D'Ags, Garden of Eden, Food Emporium, Whole Foods and the Union Square Greenmarket. Prior to the arrival of Whole Foods one put up with Healthy Pleasures/Wholesome Market where the service was terrible but they were the only consistent organic/biodynamic option in the area.

          What stuns me is that the arrival of WF did not lift the game of any of the other markets. They have all rolled over and played dead. Especially D'Ags, which makes me a little sad because they have low staff turnover and I am on a 'Howdy Neighbor' relationship with most of the clerks, but it's hard for me to walk into a store where cleanliness does not appear to be a priority.

          Healthy Pleasures closed up shop within a month.
          Gristedes limps along in some weird time warp.
          Food Emporium is useful only for the Coinstar Machines.
          Garden of Eden is serviceable, but still criminally over priced.

          So I become one of the thousands willing to endure lines that rival the Shake Shack in order to have the nice experience at WF. Although even they have done a bait and switch in some of their departments, which are now rather pedestrian.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Fred and Wilma

            I think you are being a little harsh on Food Emporium. We shop there a lot because as far as E. 14th Street goes, it has really stepped up since WF came along. Their customer service & check out people are super friendly & helpful. The store is very clean and neat. The meat and produce are well stocked and fresh (I don't buy fish there). For your average grocery shopping, it goes very fast and you don't have to take the stairs anywhere. You get in and out in a fraction of the time you would in most other places.

            1. re: maitetxu

              Sounds like someone made a store just for you! ;)

          2. I'm no great fan of Gristedes and the 2 near me (14th St/1st Ave and 20th St/1st Ave) have some of the most vile yet pricey cuts of meat I've ever seen.

            Sadder to me is that iirc, when I lived on the UES the 86th St Gristedes was a decent place to shop.

            Still, I gotta admit that when Gristede's 1st started their online service the quality of meat was vastly improved and prices of everyday grocery items were lower than their own local stores.

            Granted I can't speak from recent knowledge, as I haven't ordered from their online service for probably a few years now, but perhaps that is an option for the OP.

            fwiw, at that time, any meats ordered from the online service came from a central distribution point and not from my local store. i made sure of this as I would NEVER order any (fresh?) meat that came anywhere near my local Gristedes.

            I agree about the rest of the stores arounf Union Sq just rolling over. What a shame. Also, I think that attitude is also reflected in Fresh Direct's rise in prices and declining quality of produce, vegetable and fish.

            1. I would recommend Amish Market. There are two locations, but the on one Church and Chambers is awesome. Fresh, clean, and has some unique stuff a well as standards. The Gristedes are awful downtown. Also, what about Jubilee.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ljorjorian

                Jubilee is great and I believe it's open 24/7. Sometimes it can get a little pricey but it has everything you need.

                1. re: ljorjorian

                  If you are downtown forget the Jubille (on John Street) and go to Chinatown. You can not beat Union Square Greenmarket, one subway stop and it's where the best restaurants in the city shop.

                2. oh and i forgot... i use fresh direct as well. it is by far the cheapest and the quality is good. I like it for things i know i will need every week. also, for stuff like paper towels, TIDE, etc. that are bulky, it lets you not have to shlep it home!

                  1. The more I shop at the Manhattan Fruit Exchange in the Chelsea market, the more happy I am with their price/quality ratio. Most of the produce is fresh because they keep the store very cold, they have a huge variety of items, the people who work there are pretty helpful and their sale items can be a great bargain, I got a head of boston lettuce for 75 cents yesterday! and they have a really great small selection of inexpensive cheeses delicious olives, spices, nuts, fresh squeezed fruit juices. Very cheap coffee beans. Pretty much everything you need.

                    And it is clean!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: bolletje

                      Agreed, bolletje. Underrated place. Lots of good packaged goods, too.

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        The Chelsea Market is so funny because it kind of embodies everything I thought I didn't like: a contrived 'upscale' food court, tour groups...the food network ;)
                        But really it is a great, useful and comfortable environment with an impressive selection of food. It's the only place I regularly shop besides the green market.

                        1. re: bolletje

                          Yup, there's a pervasive precious foodie shiny sort of vibe. But there are certain real good things - Mulino Bianco cookies in the Ital import store, and the aforementioned produce stand among them.


                      2. re: bolletje

                        A great place. The Fire Dept. shops at Manhattan Fruit Exchange (reminder - they only accept cash) so you know the quality and value is good! Chelsea Market has Amy's Bread, Sarabeth's Kitchen, that Italian shop (cheeses, pastas, truffles, etc.), Chelsea Wine, that little basket shop (small jars of lemon curd), fishmonger, butcher, etc. . . . yum!

                      3. I live by the Seaport and have an Associated by my bldg that is terrible, but so convenient. Good for staples, but any specialty stuff is probably rotten as they don't move it. I've returned my share of dairy products there in the summer. There is a Key Foods on 1st Ave, I believe in the East Village that is pretty good, but you might have to dodge some of the more seasoned folks with their carts to get out. I go to Jubilee as they seem to have a good butcher there who is helpful, not cheap there, but good quality stuff. I love the Green
                        Market and Trader Joes (yes, I'll wait in the line, to a point). the key with TJs is to go in the morning, before the crowds get there and before there is a run on everything at night. Gristedes reminds me of a dead chain in Central NY called Great American. I aways wanted to shower after leaving that store.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: billyboy

                          Associated on Fulton used to be a Gristedes . . .There is a Whole Foods on Houston. Jubilee is overpriced but 24/7. I go to Jubilee for my organic milk ($3.99). Zeytuna on
                          John is an option (get the 10% discount card). You might want to try CTown (near projects) or Pathmark (near Manhattan Bridge) for staples. I go to LES alot (Essex Market, Economy Candy, Whole Foods). If I can get someone to drive me I go to the Fairway on Red Hook Brooklyn. Chinatown and Little Italy (Grand and Mulberry) are close. I lived in this neighborhood long before Jubille and Zeytuna even existed. There is a thread on the downtown shopping issue if you want to do a search of this site.

                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                            Trader Joe's has the cheapest organic milk at $3.29. Anyplace else downtown where I can get it for less?

                        2. The one on Bank and Hudson is no better.

                          I go to Western Beef or Chelsea markets. Both are much better in quality and price.

                          Dags wanted $5.99 for a can of San Marzano Tomatoes. Gristedes doesn't even carry them.

                          1. i live in battery park (north section) and shop at food emporium on Greenwich in Tribeca, only rarely hit the gristedes. Sometimes, Amish Market on my way home from work, but it's usually a bit more expensive and obviously very limited. And also Fresh Direct.

                            1. i agree. the Gristedes on w. 4th/christopher and the one on hudson/bank are both dirty and insanely overpriced. i've seen cereal for over $7 at one (not 'fancy' cereal either) and rotting produce/meats at both. if i'm going to pay too much for groceries, they should at least be clean and not rotten! that being said, we often pick stuff up at Westside Market (which is at least clean) but try to utilize frequent visits to family in suburbia for our bigger food shops.

                              1. I'm telling you, go with FreshDirect. I love cooking, going to the grocery store to choose my own produce, etc., but I tried Fresh Direct right when they first started and seriously fell in love. If you use them and go to the Greenmarket once a week, you'll be golden.
                                Also, If you don't mind walking a bit Zeytuna on Maiden Ln. and Jubilee on John Street are pretty good.
                                DON'T SUPPORT DISGUSTING GRISTEDES! Seriously, try Fresh Direct, you'll love it!

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Regan B

                                  Until they go around mugging their customers...I've read several complaints of FD's delivery guys (some with criminal records) harassing female customers. Secondly, FD produce is the worst. I used to use FD all the time, but stopped and won't go back.

                                  1. re: souldawg

                                    I believe too strongly in buying local to even consider Fresh Direct. My first choice is Greenmarkets whenever possible. I go to so many markets - I too believe in shopping the European way as sing me a bar discusses below. Maybe that's why the rest of the world is not as obese as Americans are . . . they walk, shop and carry it all home!

                                    1. re: souldawg

                                      I'm a huge proponent of Fresh Direct, and I wholly disagree that FD produce is "the worst." Compared to what? Obviously, you've never been to the Western Beef in my hood or any Key Food franchies far down on Flatbush. I'm able to get beautiful herbs, greens and seasonal fruit (perfect cherries today!) delievered to me, and I feel spoiled. And to financialdistrictresident, Fresh Direct has a pretty good selection of local produce (Satur Farms, etc.) and local seafood, too. Amazing apples from upstate, too, any time of year. And a great butcher. Nothing beats the Greenmarket--and the "European" mode of often shopping appeals to me when I'm not exhausted (Chelsea Market is my favorite place in the whole world, btw)--but if I want a huge selection of fresh food without getting offf my ass, FreshDirect is a godsend.

                                      1. re: Yaqo Homo

                                        Yago homo, I never said FD produce is "the worst" since I have not used Fresh Direct and do not plan to in the future. Thanks for letting me know FD (as does Whole Foods) patronizes local farms. I try to buy as close to the source as possible for many reasons (I think the Greenmarket has a "10 Reasons to Buy Local" flyer for those who want to learn more) . -fdr

                                        1. re: Yaqo Homo

                                          To clarify, I was responding to more than one poster. souldawg was the one who said FD produce was "the worst."

                                      2. re: Regan B

                                        I can't support Fresh Direct when their trucks double park and clog up my street. Their windshields are papered with citations, which I guess they assume is just the price of doing business. Why am I not surprised by the claims of sexual harrassment? I still follow the European model of shopping: Ottomanelli's for meat, Union Sq. market for milk and anything else I can find, especially fish and Jefferson Market for an occasional roasted chicken and produce. I use D'ag's or Gristede's only for water or canned goods.

                                      3. I have to disagree with everyone on Jubilee. That place is an atrocity. It's the only place open 24/7 in the neighborhood, and they know it, so they jack up the price and don't bother offering decent service. The workers barely understand English and consistently mess up delivery orders, often repeating the same mistake after an order is sent back. And unless you explicitly name the brand, package size and location in the store, they will deliver the most expensive equivalent item to you and chuck it up to their poor English. The quality of their produce and meat isn't much better than Associated's, but you pay Whole Foods prices. In light of their ineptitude and general managerial problems, I think that's highway robbery.

                                        Much better to shop at Zeytuna's on John and William. Produce is great and cheap. Meat is decent and they have an amazing array of fresh sausages and seafood. And even though the market is staffed mostly by foreigners, you won't have anyone price-gouging you because they can't understand your order.

                                        1. While I don't live in the area being discussed I have to pitch in. Gristedes is awful, it just plain sucks. It is the old red apple chain rebranded. The owner admits that he doesn't make his $ here, but makes his living elsewhere. It shows. Hell, the branch on W 96 Street didn't have checkout scanners until not too long ago. They have total contempt for their customers. The stores are dirty, the help is rude and abrasive. It's a crime that these guys are the lcoal market for many of us. I actually do most of my shopping either @ Fairway or I go over the GWB to Kings. I'd rather pay a toll and drive 10 minutes than walk 5 minutes to that s****hole around the corner from me.

                                          1. I thank you and others here who voice there opinion on the general state of grocery shopping here in the NYC Manhattan area. I have lived here for about 18 months and am continuously amazed at how bad the experience of shopping is here. I frequent the Gri-shitty's on 72nd and 1 ave. Here are my problems with the store in ascending order: dirty, lousy selection, prices not labeled, scanning errors (in their favor, of course), poor stocking (hell, they run out of new item every 5 minutes), completely over priced items (even by NYC standards) and ,most of all, PISSED OFF EMPLOYEES (including the manager). Honestly, if they were at least a little nice about things, I think I would overlook most of their shortcomings. They are so completely bored or pissed off, they can barely acknowledge your presence. Totally unacceptable. I am from Texas and have never seen people so unhappy with what they do. If that store was magically transported to Austin, Tx. tomorrow, they would be shut down by the county and the owners would be arrested for being assholes by the end of the week! You know, Whole Foods started in my home town, and I am so proud of that store's success. They are perfect for this NYC market, Expensive, yes, but they understand a thing or two about running a grocery that Gri-shitty's will never attempt to understand or grasp. It's all about the experience.

                                            1. If you're living downtown why aren't you shopping at Trader Joe's at Union Square? You can go there, shop and then they will bring it to you later for I think $5 if you live downtown. I live uptown and it costs $15 I think. If I was downtown I would never shop anywhere else.

                                              1. While I certainly can't speak for the original poster, Trader Joe's isn't a supermarket and not for everyday shopping-- flour, sugar, milk, paper towels, shampoo, dried pasta, sauces, regular stuff... The lines are also obscene. I've never been there and not walked out instantly. I've shopped in TJ's in the suburbs but the one in Union Square isn't worth the wait-- I'm not standing on line for 45 minutes. I'd rather go down the street to Whole Foods which is well organized and has fantastic stuff.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: adina

                                                  "Trader Joe's isn't a supermarket and not for everyday shopping"

                                                  i'm confused, you mean that you consider TJ's good FOR everyday shopping?

                                                  1. re: adina

                                                    No line at Trader Joe's today. FYI they also reconfigured the check out area (more registers?). I ask the staff when the best time to shop there is and go at odd hours (will be harder to do when I go back to school/work next week). I usually only buy a few items since it's not an every day shopping place IMO.

                                                  2. I just moved in to an apt. on Greenwich street near the WTC. I've been shopping at Gristedes for 2 weeks and I can't believe the prices. I just found this blog-- what is my best bet? I'm only here for a couple months but I have a limited budget. My roomates are in the same boat. We're a pretty low maitenance group of guys so we don't need anything fancy. Thanks

                                                    1. I live right in between the 2 Gristedes on South End Ave. in BPC and I agree that they are terrible. I find that JJ's, a little neighborhood market at Albany St., has much better fruit than Gristedes, and it has a reasonable selection of cheese, ice cream, and packaged goods. So I go to Gristedes for the things I can't find at JJ's, hit JJ's for everything else, and occasionally bite the bullet and make the trip to Union Square or LES and stock up at Whole Foods.
                                                      All this is bearable because there is hope on the horizon: A Whole Foods is scheduled to open in the new condo building that is being built in Tribeca at Greenwich and Murray. When that happens, Gristedes will have seen the last of me.

                                                      1. How do we deal with this? If we are buying canned vegetables, soup, pasta sauces and other items which do not need refrigeration we can buy them safely at Grestides. The prices are fair and they do stock most products. If they are doing something illegal (for example, the price on the shelf should be the price that you pay at the register), you can contact the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and they can inspect the supermarket for this problem. Beyond that, look to places near where you work -- I am close to the Amish Market on Greenwich Avenue and can make a trip to Trader Joe's from my office on a lunch break. If you are going to Chinatown, work in a shopping trip. Fresh Direct, while not perfect, has good meat, seafood and produce at fair prices and most often has good products. Plus, they are quite good about refunding payment for unsatisfavtory merchandise.

                                                        1. I've been to the Gristedes by me on 96 and Broadway by me. It was OK for the stuff I was looking for like cereal and granola bars, but I have to say, it had an overall dirty feel. Everything seem to just have a layer of grease on it. Can't say I'd be yearning to go back. I wish Fairways was just a little closer.....

                                                          1. I was pretty much abused verbally after returning food there(Gristedes UWS), this eve without a receipt.What a hostile place. I have spent thousands of dollars there..weird. I mean does the customer have any respect? To be fair there's some nice employees, but over all there's this huge disconnect. The manager was down right rude and other employees followed suit.

                                                            Its reasons like this (and some), that I am willing to pay WholeFoods prices. Food shopping should feel good.

                                                            Surprised, bummed and pissed!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: shazza1

                                                              PS< Funny I was returning a salad that had rotton broccoli. 1st return ever..so its not like i was a crazy person with a past. I wasn't even mad about the broccoli..but i am now..grrrrrrr

                                                            2. Gristedes is the worst, worst, worst. I wish we could at least get one of the two out of BPC. The JJ Market on Albany and South End Ave is just as expensive but the produce is fresher and the sandwiches are excellent.

                                                              1. ps, for bigger shopping trips there is the Pathmark I think it's on Suffolk Street on the Lower East Side, but I usually go to fairway uptown and shlep everything home. Whole foods is much better than Gristede's but it's still pretty expensive.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. Red Apple (then became Gristedes) sucked 1986-90 when I lived there (then moved away from NYC). So nothing has changed. pathetic!

                                                                  The only good thing about "other places" is the good markets comapred to nYC/