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Fresh produce in the East Village?

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I moved to the neighborhood a year ago and am still learning my way, foodwise. Have been buying my fruit and veggies at the Union Square farmers market and Whole Foods, but am I missing something else? Tried the little coop on East Fifth but I was not impressed, and they have a very small selection. Is there some small gem that I haven't found?

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  1. There's a greenmarket on Sundays along the west and south sides of Tomkins Square Park. Gracefully on A between 2nd & 3rd has nice produce but is very pricey.

    1. Commodities on 1st and 11th (next door to Momofuku Ko) has a range of decent, if overpriced, fresh organic produce. Other than that and the Tomkins Sq greenmarket, there's also the Essex St Market if you live towards the southern end of East Village.

      1. I like the market downstairs from Grand Sichuan - I think it's called St. Mark's market. It doesn't have great produce, but it's open 24/7 for those times when the Green Market only has last year's apples. And where else can you go grocery shopping to the Sex Pistols and Public Image? There is also a small seasonal green market in front of Saint Mark's Church on Tuesdays that hasn't started up yet.
        I'd love to know any other spots in the "Upper West" East Village.
        Whole Foods has some good stuff but the prices, crowds, and weird architecture always aggravate me!

        1 Reply
        1. re: hungrycomposer

          I'm also in the "upper west" area and I agree with you re St. Mark's marketplace, it is clean and pretty fair on price (compared, for example to the D'Agostino's on University place). Have been going to the Polish butcher on Second Avenue for chicken, thought the meat was good but I am still schlepping to Florence Meat Market. And not much luck with fish, am still going west to Citarella and The Lobster Place.

        2. Sunrise Mart on 9th street upstairs between 3rd and 2nd has Japanese produce staples. Its a small selection but they have some interesting stuff.

          M2m on 12st and 3rd ave. is a small Korean mart with some stuff as well.

          Jasmart downstairs on 8th street between 2nd and 3rd has a small selection of asian produce.

          Trader joes on 14th street obviously.

          9 Replies
          1. re: DarthEater

            Re Trader Joe's: I don't recommend them for produce. It's cheap, but a lot of it is lousy. I bought a bag of avocados there recently, and they were well on their way to rotten: I could salvage about 1/3 of each avocado. The tomatoes are rock hard. Everything's wrapped up tight so that you can't pick and choose. Feh.

            1. re: small h

              I agree the TJ's produce is generally bad. And the cheese goes moldy in the blink of an eye. But save those receipts - they'll refund you for anything, even if it's just personal taste.

              1. re: hungrycomposer

                That's true, but it means another trip to that hellhole. I'd just as soon get my vegetables at a place where I'm reasonably sure they won't suck. And rely on Trader Joe's for what it does well: frozen & canned.

              2. re: small h

                hellhole? lol you obviously got some non-food agenda going on

                never had a problem with the avocados..and very well priced @TJ's
                ditto for the tomatoes

                try the wild arugula at $2 it's amazing

                oh the cheeses rock! they are all dated, so to blame TJ's is nutzo about going moldy

                1. re: Buddha Belly

                  Um, well, more for you, I guess. There's no such thing as "well-priced" when the food is bad. I'm glad you've been lucky thus far, but I'm of the "once burned, twice shy" school, so I won't risk rotten avocados again when I can get them at Whole Foods or Essex Market or my local Fine Fare and be sure they're ok.

                  The hideous crowds and super long lines make TJs a hellhole. I have no agenda whatsoever.

                  1. re: small h

                    I realize that most people can't shop from 10 a.m. till noon on weekdays, but Trader Joe's is a different universe at those hours. It *is* pretty hellish at prime time. But most grocery stores are. And I totally agree that TJ's produce is mostly C-minus. At least Whole Foods has a highly efficient check-out system. It's by far my favorite store in the whole area. But we're just approaching the outer edge of the Greenmarket's eight months of glory. Ramps will be here before you know it.

                    As for ripe avocados, usable the day you get them, some of the street vendors have the best--and cheapest--ripe avocados. Food Emporium usually has some ripe avocados, organic or not, because for some reason they have hundreds of them at all times, and their turnover is kind of minimal.

                    1. re: Tom Steele

                      It's very rare that I can drag myself to Union Square so early, but I have, and you're right - it's lovely in TJs that time of day. I have a sneaking suspicion that their line system (or lack thereof) is on purpose: to make you feel that bargains like these must be suffered for. And I don't know why people (ok, person) defend TJs so adamantly - and blindly. It does some things well. It does other things much less well. That's just the truth. Their cheese certainly does not "rock" if you're used to Cato Corner & Saxelby.

                      I prowl the Union Square Greenmarket IN THE SNOW because I am such an egg snob that even the cagefreerangetarian ones in the supermarket are just not good enough. The season for ramps & fiddlehead ferns & pea shoots cannot come soon enough for me.

                    2. re: small h

                      I have had bad avocados from TJs, too, and bad bananas, and I've heard the same story from many friends. Produce is definitely their weak point.

                    3. re: Buddha Belly

                      I love TJ's, but the Monterey Jack often develops a white film long before the expiration date, I can assure it's not because I'm "nutzo", Buddha Belly. I like the wild arugula too, unfortunately the last bag I bought had some nasty rotten pieces that permeated the whole bag. Neither of these problems would prevent me from shopping there again, especially because they have such a good refund policy.