quality, inexpensive produce in Manhattan
I will be visiting NY next week staying on the UES. Coming from the west coast, I am used to beautiful produce at lovely farmers' markets, but I am worried that the greenmarkets (and Whole Foods) will be far too expensive. Are there places for quality, inexpensive fruits and veggies in Manhattan (not necessarily limited to UES?)
icecreamgal - are you from SF? the union square farmer's market pales in comparison to SF's ferry plaza farmer's market. i'm a west coast native and the low quality/high priced produce was a trauma when i moved here 10 years ago. whole foods may be considered expensive on the west coast but the prices are normal in manhattan. the greenmarket's prices are not like they are in the west coast - it's practically the same as shopping at whole foods. the advantage is that all the $ goes to the farmer. still, i'd recommend the greenmarket, wf and fairway for quality produce at a fair price.
On the Upper East Side, Agata and Valentina on 79th and First is good for produce. While some things are overpriced, most are less expensive than what you will find in supermarkets. They have an excellent range of salad greens and Italian vegetables in season. They often have baby lettuces from Satur Farms on the North Fork of Long Island; watch for these. In general, and this is true of most markets, avoid Mondays when shelves are being restocked. Fruits there are generally not as well priced as vegetables. Their mushrooms are generally better priced than at Fairway. they make their mozzarella every day and it is the best you can find without trekking downtown. Unlike many stores, they do not refrigerate after making mozzarella. Cheese prices other than mozz are pretty high.
Further afield, Fairway is all right but frankly, saving 20 cents a poud may not be worth battling the crowds. Quality is not as good as at Agata although the range is broader. Their house olive oils are excellent and you can taste. Cheeses are good but Zabars a few blocks north is better. For tomatoes, you cannot beat, for price or Quality, the boxed Campari tomatoes at Fairway.
Since it is spring, the farmer's markets should not be missed, especially Union Square. But prices there will probably shock you as compared to back home.
The Manhattan Fruit Exchange in Chelsea Market has some of the best prices per pound on produce but it is tough to find it in peak condition. They should be ashamed about the condition of their greens. But you cannot argue with yams for 39 cents a pound, rather than the $1.98 Whole Foods charges!! Some good ethnic produce there as well. And good prices on freshly squeezed juice including the usual suspects and carrot. Skip their cheeses.
Harlem Fairway is excellent on price and range but far afield.
Grace's on Third Avenue near 70th Street has top quality produce at top prices; but if you need a particular green, go there.
Citarella can be good but their range on produce is not great. Good quality; good for meats and fish. Nice store.
There's a produce cart on 77 St./3 Ave. by the Housing Works store. It's very, very cheap and fresh. You can get a bag of spinach for $2, crisp juicy bell peppers for 33 to 50 cents, and five plums for a dollar. It was the first time I bought peaches and plums that tasted tree-ripened. (I had fruit trees growing up, and I refused to buy peaches from the supermarket because they were all mealy!). I think he gets his produce from Whole Foods, because they have the same stickers. It's conventionally grown, but the taste rivals organic.
Try Fairway on the UWS. They are fairly reasonably priced compared to most other Manhattan produce shops and you get good quality at a decent price. While you're there, you can shop for everything else on your grocery list too.
re: Cheese Boy
Right on, Cheese Boy! Fairway is my favorite source for produce in Manhattan for the sheer convenience factor and volume and choice, not to mention reasonable prices. It's also very beautifully presented.
Where are on the UES are you staying? I don't live in the area, but I have friends who do, and I have to say when we are all planning to cook together in their neighborhood I have had a hard time finding good fresh produce at reasonable prices.
Union Square is simply wonderful, the market is there year round on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I don't get there as often as I'd like because all too often I decide I need fresh produce on Thursday for some reason.
If you are in the mood to really splurge, Eli's on 80th and Third has excellent everything, but expect to pay through the nose and promise your first born child.
re: Cheese Boy
Agreed. I do my weekly shopping at the Harlem Fairway, supplemented by markets/farm stands in the summer; Fairway has a very good selection of produce at reasonable prices, including a fairly large selection of organic fruits and veg. For dressing salads, they have an excellent - and well-priced - selection of house branded olive oils, and their house aged balsamic vinegar is an exceptional value.
My guess is that there will be places just around the corner from where you're staying that sell decent fruits and veggies, whether they be corner grocers or fruit vendors hawking their wares from carts. If you can't find one, Barzini's on the UWS is right across Central Par in the lower 90s.
The Greenmarket's fair, but if you don't want to chase the Greenmarket around town and it's not too hard for you to get there, check out the Manhattan Fruit Exchange at Chelsea Market.
If you don't have to have organic, I don't think you'll have a problem finding decent quality fruit at fruit vendors all around town.
most major metro area cities around the usa have many farmers markets and ny is no exception. the union square greenmarket is the best known:
some arent open yet:
price is hard to say, its the big city and prices vary, but are generally high for everything. my fav produce market has decent prices, its in the chelsea market, which is another place you will also really want to check out: