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Favorite Grocery Stores

I was curious what stores chowhounds would recommend for their grocery shopping. Do people stick with the basics (Gristedes, D'Agostino's, Whole Foods, etc.) or are there more unique spots that some prefer?

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  1. I'm a diehard Fairway shopper (supplemented with greenmarket stuff). I used to try to get some things at D'Ags or Food Emporium but gave up since I think it mostly stinks (at least in my neighborhood). I've tried Whole Foods too but it's further for me and much much more expensive. At Fairway I especially like the produce, organics, and bulk selections; and I adore their cheese selection (oh, and their olive oils). And I have always had good interactions with the staff there -- especially at the cheese area.

    1. fairway.
      pathmark. Some of them have ethnic section where I can get my grace scotch bonnet sauce.

      ethnic marts
      kam man in chinatown on canal. various chinatown street vendors and meat markets.
      jas mart , sunrise mart in the east village.
      han ah reum sometimes.
      various mexican grocery stores in midtown and 9th - 10th avenue. Need to get my el yucateco sauce and tapatio sauce. Get my my pork rinds there too.
      zabars - smoked fish, pates, bagels etc...

      costco in the outer burroughs. freshest produce at a good price and thick cuts of meat.

      3 Replies
      1. re: randumbposter

        hello randumbposter,

        I visit my mom in NY every couple of weeks, and desperately need to renew my tapatio and other mexican groceries. Can you tell me where your favorites are?

        I can't keep flying back to California to load up on Tapatio and chipotles. Helppppp!


        1. re: randumbposter

          kam man has the best roasted duck. It's hanging in the window, does it get any better than that?

          1. re: randumbposter

            Hi randumbposter,

            What market do you get your El Yucateco sauce in San Francisco?

          2. Whole Foods, Gourmet Garage

            1. Lots of good ideas here...also Kalustyan's is one of the very best in the city!


              5 Replies
              1. re: fauchon

                Kalustyans is wonderful for all sorts of ethnic products. Citarella is my "main" grocery store - I like their fish and meat, and find them actually more reasonable than Food Emporium, which I abhor. I'll stop in at Eli's up Third Avenue if I can't find something there. I occasionally shop at Grace's Market Place - there are some things they carry - like Ancho chiles - that I know I can't find at Citarella. We also enjoy making early Saturday morning pilgrimages down town, which may include some combination of Di Palo's, Despana, Murray's, Faicco, Ottomanelli and the Lobster Place (the latter four on Bleecker). Every once and a while we'll go to Fairway. We make probably a monthly trip to Whole Foods (6th Avenue - the one at Union Square is a PITA to shop at IMHO) to stock up on their Italian sparkling mineral water, peanut butter, meats, boneless chicken thighs, their dairy product prices are quite good, bulk nuts, WF olive oil etc. My husband also goes to Costco sometimes to stock up on non-food items, and will buy jumbo lump crabmeat, rack of lamb, Kirkland's olive oil (yes we go through a lot of olive oil), etc.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  How much is the jumbo lump crabmeat at Costco? Is the quality as good as Citarella's? Also, which Costco does your husband go to?

                  1. re: fauchon

                    It's Phillips brand from Costco - I would say it is not quite as nice as Citarella's, but I think it is about $15 for 16 oz. He goes to the Costco up in Westchester - by the Stew Leonard's.

                  2. re: MMRuth

                    Another favorite - The Ravioli Store - for, what else, ravioli.

                    Ravioli Store
                    43-44 21st St, Queens, NY 11101

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I just read on another thread that The Ravioli Store has closed, but that they maybe selling their products through other stores.

                2. i love:
                  chelsea market
                  the greenmarket in union square (monday, wednesday, friday, saturday)
                  sunrise mart
                  random vegetable stands in chinatown (can't miss them, just walk around)
                  murray's cheese! yum!
                  fairway and citarella when i used to live on the uws. also bruno ravioli for their fresh pastas.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: shirlotta

                    I love the chelsea market. Lobster place is awesome, amy's breads is always good, and manhattan fruit and vegetable is really cheap and has a good selection (usually). It does lack, though, a good place to get good cheese and a decent butcher. I one time asked the guy at Frank's to debone a chicken for me and he looked about as happy to help as I look on Saturday morning at 8am after a night of drinking.

                    1. re: john

                      really? i've always found the guys at frank's to be very helpful. maybe it's because i'm a girl. heh.

                      i love all of the above, as well as ronnybrook's dairy products, the chelsea wine vault, the kitchen supply store in there, the italian market, and fat witch brownies.

                  2. My grocery store list is very similar to MMRuth! My main grocery store is Citeralla for seafood and basic greens and fruits;
                    Di Palo for cheese and prosciutto and ham;
                    Despana for Spanish items;
                    Katagiri and Sunrise Mart for Japanese grocery;
                    Chinatown for SE or East Asian grocery or exotic fresh fruits;
                    Occasion visits to Whole Foods, Grand Central Station, and Trader Joe's when pass by (and when they are not crowded)

                    1. If you really want to have some fun, venture into Queens. Go to the new Amish Market at Atlas Park in Glendale. Wait for a beautiful day and just enjoy being there. The Atlas Park property reminds me very much of Florida's malls. It's a very nice space. The Amish Market there is beautiful, nothing like Manhattan. It's very much like the Turco's of northern Westchester or akin to say Dean & DeLuca and Agata & Valentina combined. Check it out for yourself.

                      Link ---> http://www.amishfinefood.com/apa01.ph...

                      Also this link, Atlas Park ---> http://www.theshopsatatlaspark.com/

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                        basic place is food emporium. however really like whole foods especially the one on houston street. used to be a big fan of the original balducci's but 8th ave doesnt do much for me. same goes with citarella, too over-priced. love chelsea market. havent done fresh direct in a long long time. dean and deluca in soho is real good but often go to their smaller one on university.

                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                          I'm a Forest Hills person--happy compromise (for me) between Manhattan and the 'burbs where I grew up and I can travel either way, having the subway at my door and my car in an overpriced garage. Atlas Park is pretty, nice to wander around in (especially if you want a change from Manhattan), but the Amish Market there is to me no better than the one in Hell's Kitchen and I think hard to get to by mass transit. And then you have to drag bags on the bus or subway if you do not have a car. I like Fairway, but usually do the Plainview branch, so I can use the car. Also like TJ, but eagerly await the Rego Park store, again with a parking lot...I guess you can take the girl out of the suburbs, but you can't take the suburbs out of the girl. I think it comes down to what part of Manhattan you live in and how far you are willing to or feel the need to travel for basics.

                        2. Wow, so many responses and only one mention of Trader Joe's, and that in passing? I think it beats most stores, both price and goody wise. I also like Citarella, it's better priced than most - I get coffee, crackers, cheeses, and baguettes there.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: nokitsch

                            I've actually never gone into the TJ's in NYC. Went once in DC and that was enough for me - I buy very little prepared/frozen food, and found the other departments lackluster at best, especially compared to what one can get in some many other place in NYC. Is the NYC one any different from ones in other places? I remember lously looking produce, mediocre cheese, no fresh fish or meat.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              not too much in terms of fresh fish/meat, that's true, but things like cold cuts, cheese (I'm not into $20lb cheeses, I admit), crackers, chips, regular bread, dairy, etc. and lots of their prepared foods actually taste as good as anything i've bought in "ethnic" (hate the word) restaurants, jasmin rice, stir frys, dumplings, frozen premade fish, quiches, etc...

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                I used to go to TJ's on LI. I buy a few things there. I cook or dine out so not to into the packaged/processed items. Love their brown and wild rice, and sun dried tomato spread/tepanade.

                              2. re: nokitsch

                                I adore TJ's. Their fresh meats are killer for the price and if you don't mind frozen (Sue me!), their seafood is pretty alright and a steal. Same for cereal, bread, etc. Whole Foods generally feels outlandishly pricey, especially with the market right outside four days a week.

                                Amish Market on W. Broadway prices pretty well and has a pretty incredibly selection of hard to find favorites. Gourmet Garage isn't bad either. But for the backbone of my shopping trip, unless I'm looking for something specific or special, TJ's is the place.

                              3. Don't hate me, but I think FreshDirect.com is the best full-service grocery store, bar none, in the city. If I need bits and pieces, I go to Chelsea Market and get -- for example -- fish at the Lobster Place. But I get all my basics online from FreshDirect these days. Just wish they had some better olive oil in the large can size.

                                1. Fairway. Supplimented by specialty stores. Queen Ann pasta, Royal Crown Bread, Faico's Pork Store, Murray's (Fairway does have great cheese).

                                  1. - East village cheese shop on 9th street and 3rd for my blue cheese staples
                                    -Deluxe Food center on Mott/Elizabeth street for meats and chinese items
                                    - Tofu on Bowery street and grand
                                    - Grocery store next door to century cafe for Southeast asian products on Bowery. More selection than the one on mulberry.
                                    - Mulberry st. asian fruit and veggie stalls

                                    1. I love the Amish Market on 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen. The guys at the seafood counter are amazingly helpful.

                                      1. I live in Murray Hill. We generally go to D'ag for quick shopping (the Gristedes and Food Emporium in the area I have found to be horrendous). But we usually try to make a trip down to Union Square for the greenmarket on Saturday mornings. If we have other items in mind, we'll stop in at Whole Foods (fresh vegetables and meats that we don't purchase at Union Square, various staples) or Trader Joe's (frozen vegetables, dairy, beverages, prepared foods, cereal).

                                        I used to use Fresh Direct often but have cut back as I enjoy the time spent shopping with my husband (can't really do that online) and unless we have large items that we want delivered, we just tend to buy what looks good. But I will say that for the time that I used it, Fresh Direct was great. Good prices, relatively good variety and the quality was on par or better with what I could get in the regular supermarket. Plus, I could shop during the week and have all my food delivered without making time for it afterwork or on the weekends.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: magfitz

                                          I like Garden of Eden a lot- surprised I'm the first to mention it. The tiny location on 23rd and 7th will often carry things that the gargantuan whole foods on 27th and 7th doesn't have. Everyone is always very friendly though it is a bit claustrophobic for a long shopping trip.

                                          1. re: foodie4life

                                            I used to get some items at the one near 14th Street. Now I go to Earth Matters on the LES or other shops.

                                        2. No mention of Balducci's here? I was only there once (the new one on 14th) and was more than satisfied... did I get lucky?

                                          1. I'm so relieved to see that I'm not the only one who shops multiple stores for my groceries. I was starting to fear I was an obsessive foodie.

                                            Fairway provides my staples (bread, eggs, milk, cold cuts, pasta, some veg, soda)
                                            Chelsea Market provides: most vegetables, chilies, herbs, fish, curry paste
                                            Myers of Keswick for sausages
                                            Western Beef or Pioneer for meat, Latino products, canned/frozen goods, on-sale products
                                            Chinatown for shrimp paste, spice mixes, chorizo bilbao, longaniza
                                            East Village Cheese Shoppe for potato chips...just kidding, I go there for cheese.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: JungMann

                                              Hey JungMann,
                                              I'm pretty obsessive too. I need to get some longaniza for this coming weekend. Who sells it? Would you mind sharing the name of your Chinatown resource?

                                            2. And one more questions... for those nights when cooking or going out just isn't an option... who was the best prepared food? Citarella's always looks shockingly bad, as does Jefferson Market-- and Gourmet Garage is basically a scam as far as I'm concerned. So between Whole Foods (Houston) or Balducci? Or some other contender I haven't thought of...

                                              1. The Food Emporium in the Bridgemarket Plaza underneath the 59th St. Bridge has to be the most beautiful "traditional" grocery store in Manhattan. Great selection of gourmet products, prepared food, cooking supplies, flowers, etc. as well as the basic grocery items. Really worth the trip!

                                                1. I love Garden of Eden for baked goods, condiments and dairy, sometimes for fancy produce when it's on sale (otherwise the cost is prohibitive).

                                                  TJ's is my go-to for pantry and freezer staples, ready-made foods, Greek yogurt, wine and snacks.

                                                  I hit the Bowery Whole Foods for salad bar food, Il Lab gelato, and sheer entertainment value.

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: piccola

                                                    Trader Joe's for staples like PB, cereal, beans, salsa, and some dairy such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, soy milk, yougurt, rice pudding. The hummus is very good and the "sushi" party platter is well worth $6. However, no self-respecting NYer should buy TJ's bagels!

                                                    East Village Cheese Shop; Manhattan Fruit Exchange in Chelsea Market; Porto Rico Coffee; Dynasty Market on Elizabeth Street; Big Apple Supermarket, 9th Ave bet. 41 and 42 Sts for meat. Big Apple has good prices on a limited grocery selection.

                                                    1. re: fsd1116

                                                      During the school year (I am a teacher) I loved the quality and convenience of FreshDirect. Otherwise Fairway was where I did the bulk of my shopping. In the summer I go to the Greenmarket weekly for my bulk of produce and if looking for a special piece of fish or meat. Especially if I planned on cooking it rare, I loved Agata and Valentina or Citarella.
                                                      Also, Trader Joe's (in CT, not downtown...too busy!) is where I would get quick, easy frozen items (veggies, gyoza) for nights I didn't want to cook!

                                                      1. re: SweetPea914

                                                        As far as big-box, Walmart-y stores go, Meijer is a godsend. The produce is fresh, the prices are killer and the dry goods aren't bad, either. But the produce really shines. Where Walmart actually had rotting food out, Meijer had 4 varieties of plums and 2 dollar watermelons.

                                                        1. re: GilloD

                                                          What is Meijer - not familiar w/ it. TIA

                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            I'm a huge fan of Essex Market. You can get everything you need under one roof.


                                                            1. re: thursdayclubjason

                                                              Love Essex Market (and there is a butcher, fishmongers, a new artisanal cheese shop), nearby Economy Candy (nuts, dried fruit, etc.), Earthmatters, Kossar's, etc. I almost always leave my neighborhood to shop. Except I do buy organic milk at Jubilee or Zeytuna. Union Square Greenmarket where all the best restaurants in the city shop is only one subway stop away! I am lucky to live by Chinatown and Little Italy. TJ's for a few favorite items (brown rice, wild rice). Chelsea Market when I can get there. Sometimes (when someone drives me) Fairway in Red Hook. I believe in buying local. I like to shop the European way (plus all that walking and shopping is great exercise). I'm anti-Fresh Direct. I went to the very first Gourmet Garage location when no one even new they existed. Now they are everywhere. Good for their business, bad for my wallet. I never go there anymore. There is also a thread on food shopping if you live in the financial district. Am I the only one who considers wine shopping part of grocery shopping??? By the way there was a thread on wine shopping downtown . . .

                                                            2. re: MMRuth

                                                              Meijer is an amazing grocery chain in the midwest. Wish they'd open a store in Brooklyn!

                                                    2. kam man and jas mart in St Mark's Place for sauces, noodles tofu etc.
                                                      East Village cheese for cheese and crackers,
                                                      TJ'S for very few things - don't do many ready meals.
                                                      Lobster Place - prefer the one on Bleeker St.
                                                      Western Beef and Faicco's for meat.
                                                      Green Market for certain f and v.
                                                      Raffeto's on Houston St for ravioli - they are tasty and very reasonable surprised nobody else has mentioned it...
                                                      Fairway, Chelsea Market and Garden of Eden for produce.
                                                      Sullivan St bread from Wholefoods - altho I'm not a fan of them in general.