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Least crowded Whole Foods in Manhattan?

Hi Hounds!

I am a longtime lurker, just moved to NYC and living in Chelsea. I could not be more excited to explore all the eating this city has to offer. But for the moment, I'm seeking something a little less interesting -- a grocery store that doesn't make me want to stab myself in the eye everytime I walk in. Seriously, no matter what time of day or night I go, the Whole Foods at 25th and 7th is a madhouse. I've also walked into the one at Columbus Circle to promptly turn around and walk right back out. Ditto the one at Union Square. The one near 2nd and Houston is a little better, if you go in the morning, but in the evenings or weekend afternoons (which is when I could get down there) it seems as bad as the rest.

So what's the story? Do I just suck it up? Shop elsewhere? For the record, I do get most of my produce from Chelsea Market or farmer's markets, but I still need a grocery store for my pantry staples.

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  1. They're all pretty crowded. You're right, the one on Houston seems to be the best. If you can't go in the mornings (when it's relatively calm), you may want to try shopping for your pantry staples in bulk so you only go about once or twice every couple of months. Or try Fresh Direct to avoid the hassle. I do Fresh Direct every few months to order staples (like canned tomatoes) and supplement it with the bulk bins at health food stores for things like grains, legumes and nuts.

    1. Try the Tribeca store. Doesn't feel as jammed as the others.

      2 Replies
      1. re: E Eto

        Oh, I totally forgot about that one.

        1. re: E Eto

          Yep, Tribeca WF wins hands down... it is virtually empty sometimes.

        2. As E. Eto said, the Tribeca store is rarely super-crowded. (Unfortunately I'm moving from lower Manhattan to Chelsea. I'll either get used to long lines or stop going to WF at all.)
          Do try FreshDirect.

          1. We usually go to WF in Chelsea at about 9 on Saturday or Sunday mornings, and it doesn't seem crazed then to me. I can't stand the USQ or Columbus Circle stores though - always way to crowded.

            1. I like to go to the Bowery/Houston location late (like 10pm), especially on a weekend night. Doesn't seem too bad then. I avoid meal times like the plague.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kathryn

                Yeah, Sunday afternoons and anytime from 5:30-8:30 pm are bad, but I went today (Monday) at 12 noon and it was very enjoyable.

              2. The new one opens on Aug 27th -- Columbus & 97th. I have no idea how crowded it will be but may be worth checking to see.

                1. i like the Union Square one. when i have off from work its nice to go mid-mornings or mid-afternoons and it is quite manageable. Location wise, its the best(at least for me).

                  Chelsea is too tiny so it gets packed quick.

                  1. I'm in love with the Tribeca Whole Foods. I was there at 7:30 tonight (prime insanity hour at the Chelsea store) and shopping was a real pleasure. Even though it's a good half hour out of my way, it is going to be my go to store. And it was nice to see Tribeca, at least for a little bit. I've only been in town two weeks and hadn't made it there yet. Thanks so much everybody!