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Oct 1, 2010 10:26 PM

Upper West Side, Affordable Groceries?

Hi all,
I just moved in the 90s and Central Park West. Where can I get basic groceries for cheap around here? Organic is not a priority.

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  1. I'm in the 90s on Columbus. What kind of "basic groceries" are you looking for? I do a large portion of my shopping at Fairway, both for good prices and good quality. Many of the more "traditional" groceries (Associated, Food City, etc.) are kind of gross, IMO. A new "mega Associated" is set to open on Amsterdam (around 100th) soon. A Trader Joes just opened on 72nd & Broadway, if that interests you. And of course there's Whole Foods on 97th & Columbus, but that certainly isn't cheap!

    Trader Joe's
    2075 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

    19 Replies
    1. re: LNG212

      Thanks! I eat a lot of "ethnic" food, but I get that stuff straight from the source (noodles from Chinatown, split lentils from Queens, etc.).

      I'm thinking basics like:
      -Apples, bananas, grapes, peaches, etc. (not jackfruit, lychee...)
      -Eggs, milk, flour, Prego, tortillas, sugar, olive oil, honey bunches of oats (with almonds)

      I'm a grad student, so I don't have time to make my arrabiata sauce by hand all the time... so I have to do with the canned goods. In which case, Whole Foods seems silly.

      Thanks! I'll check out Fairway.

      1. re: pri430

        Definitely check out Fairway (either 74th & Bway or up on 125th). They have very good prices and I think you'll find that their quality on the produce you mention is very good. Also do try some of their own stuff -- I do like their pasta sauces, e.g. and their olive oil is excellent as an everyday oil.

        Good luck.

        1. re: pri430

          Forgot to add ... do check out the bulk section upstairs at Fairway (74th). They have reasonable prices and maybe you'll find things like lentils that compare to what you've gotten in Queens.

          Also you may want to check out Las Palomas (219 W100th) for Mexican ingredients and products.

          Las Palomas
          219 W 100th St, New York, NY 10025

          1. re: LNG212

            Thank you so much! I really appreciate it.

          2. re: pri430

            Broadway from 80th to 72nd is all you need... worth the trip once a week or every other.

            Fairway has the best produce... period. It also functions quite well as a general grocery and the bulk foods upstairs are great. Zabars at 80th is a worthy stop too, if only for the coffee and the house brand tomato sauces which are really good for $3.50 per small jar (it seems like a lot but then it is actually tasty stuff, the filleto de pomodoro and Arrabiata are both good... the vodka sauce a little less good... it is on shelves right by the coffee

            I'm not a huge fan of Trader Joe's at 72nd. but they do have good pasta, serviceable jarred sauce (cheaper than the Zabars sauce ) and breakfast cereals. The frozen organic vegetables and berries are also well priced. I have glances at the packaged meat and pre marinated stuff at TJ and walk away pretty quickly... I'm not big on the frozen entrees... but I have been sampling them for rainy day lunches at work and they aren't horrible... the mac n cheese is even pretty good. That may appeal to a time pressed student on an every other week shopping schedule... week 1 all fresh... week 2 dry pasta, jarred sauce, frozen TJ dinners etc

            Trader Joe's
            2075 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

            1. re: msny98

              I find Fairway's house brand of tomato sauce pretty good. I'm referring to the jarred version, though I also regularly buy the (more expensive) stuff in the containers in the refrigerated section as well. I bought TJ's jarred sauce recently but haven't got around to trying it, yet. When I did a quick calculation I was surprised to find TJ's was a bit more expensive, if I got the prices and amounts right.

              1. re: uwsgrazer

                I agree re: the sauce. I mentioned it above. We like just their regular "pasta sauce" though there are other variations available. I have not tried the stuff in the refrigerated section.

                1. re: uwsgrazer

                  You got to try the Zabars sauce (back by the coffee) as good as Fairway fresh pomodoro sauce... better consistency even and shelf stable. I tried TJ's jarred just to see... didn't cut it for me

                  I used to keep the Fairway jarred around as an emergency stash... but then what to do with the rest of it after that meal...

                  1. re: msny98

                    HA! We used to have this problem too - once the inside of the jar actually grew green and white fuzzies. :( Now, if that happens, I freeze the leftovers in portions in small ziploc bags. That's the correct amount for us for a pizza (we make our own). That seems to work for us.

                    1. re: msny98

                      Thanks for the recommendation -- I'll plan to pick up Zabars' jarred sauces next time I'm there.

                      I just tried one of TJ's jarred sauces the other day. They actually offer a huge variety of sauces and this one was priced inexpensively. I don't remember the actual price anymore but I imagine it's even less than Fairway's (just to clarify my earlier post). It tasted fine, nothing exceptional or anything but for an everyday sauce it was fine. We actually paired it with some of TJ's refrigerated stuffed pastas. Again, for the convenience and modest cost we were pleased enough and will consider buying them again.

                  2. re: msny98

                    +1 on the combination of Fairway and Zabars.

                    Ditto msny98 re: Fairway's produce and general grocery. Do get familiar with the bulk bins, they package the same stuff and sell them for more expensive downstairs. Bulk granola here is the cheapest around. Just be prepared for the aggressive shopping crowd. Take deep breathes and the best counters to pay at are the last two lines on the North side of the store. Yes, even if you only have a few items. Meat's OK. Beware the fish. Tried it and regretted it.

                    Zabars really is worth a stop for coffee and I found their cheese, olives and anchovies more varied and slightly cheaper than Fairway for the stuff I like.

                    Sometimes I would get some of my fruits from the fruit stand on Broadway just north of Fairway. When i pass by, I just check the prices, and if they are cheaper, I'll pick something up after Zabars. Their fruit seemed reasonable to me.

                    1. re: ozinboz

                      Thanks for the suggestion about the meat and the fish. I'll hit up Trader Joe's for that :)

                      Trader Joe's
                      142 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

                    2. re: msny98

                      mmmm, I'll definitely try the Zabar's sauce!

                    3. re: pri430

                      Based on the types of foods you're purchasing, you're probably fine shopping at Fairway for fresh goods along with pantry items. Most canned goods can be purchased at the local Associated for cheaper when on sale. If you're taking the B/C to 72nd, you should stop at Pioneer. Sales are good and there is a great beer selection.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        Definitely agree re: the beer at Pioneer. Also, if you are into beers, one cheap(er) way to enjoy some of the offerings at Whole Foods is to go with a growler. DH is a bit of a beer snob but since he has his own growler, he thinks the prices for the selections from the taps at WF are worth it (WF at 97th has the taps; I do not think the one at Columbus Circle does).

                          1. re: Pan

                            Google is your friend.

                            A growler is a U.S. half gallon (1,890 ml/66.5 imp fl oz) glass jug used to transport draft beer in Australia, the United States and Canada. They are commonly sold at breweries and brewpubs as a means to sell take-out beer. Some breweries also offer a one-litre or one-quart version. Growlers are also used by homebrewers as an alternative to kegs or smaller bottles for carbonating and storing their beer.

                            Growlers are generally made of glass and have either a screw-on cap or a hinged porcelain gasket cap which can provide freshness for a week or more. A properly sealed growler will hold carbonation indefinitely and will store beer like any other sanitized bottle. Some growler caps are equipped with valves to allow replacement of co2 gas lost while racking.

                            The term likely dates back to the late 19th century when fresh beer was carried from the local pub to one's home by means of a small galvanized pail. It is claimed the sound that the CO2 made when it escaped from the lid as the beer sloshed around sounded like a growl


                            1. re: gutsofsteel

                              Google may be my friend, but: (a) the only thing I could think of was "dog," and I didn't see how it made sense; (b) the explanation was informative to others, not just me.

                            2. re: Pan

                              Thanks, gos, for the informative reply. I knew they went back but didn't know all that.

                              I don't know how large DH's growler is. But it is glass and it does have the hinged top thing to seal it. Whole Foods also sells their own growlers in two sizes that you can then re-use there. I think, in general, there are maybe 5 taps at the WF on 97th Street, if that interests you. And one night a week they do specials - it might be Thursdays but I'm not sure. I think they actually call it Happy Hour or some such.

                    4. The best grocery store BY FAR on the Upper West Side, is right around the corner from you. 94th and Columbus. It's a treasured gem by the whole neighborhood. Try their fresh turkey sandwiches or their chicken cutlet salads. Their produce is fresh as can be, and often local. It's a family run business and it's truly special.

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: upperwestchowmom

                          Seriously? You actually think Food City is "the best grocery store BY FAR on the UWS"??? Wow. I find that to be astonishing.

                          Food City
                          705 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10025

                          1. re: LNG212

                            I believe upperwestchowmom is referring to Mani Market.

                        2. While I agree w/the posters mentioning Fairway, TJ, etc, you don't have to avoid Whole Foods entirely. Their produce is pricey and it's easy to be seduced by some of their more exotic offerings, but they have a great bulk foods section and their CEO has made it a policy to not be under-priced by Trader Joe's -- so the 365 brand (for anything, but including eggs, milk, flour, olive oil, etc.) is going to be the same price or lower than what TJ sells its stuff for. If you show a little restraint (which, I admit, I have yet to be 100% successful at), you can get out of there without breaking the bank. Just a thought since it's a bit closer to where you live!

                          Trader Joe's
                          142 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

                          1. I'm sure this review will be criticized by some (or many), but I cook every single night, love food, and have lived in the 90s on the West Side for 10 years. There are many options beyond what has been said which are far more convenient for you (based on your location), especially if you are busy and cannot stop in the 70s every day or every other day for groceries. Sometimes I have to stop at two places, but I get deals and am satisfied. Here are my suggestions:

                            1. Gristedes gets overlooked. (96th/Bway). They have very good deals and I get all of my canned/frozen/basic pasta/snacks here. Big selection, not as cramped and crowded as Fairway. They actually do have an organic produce section which isn't as bad as you might think. I would not get meat or fish here, though.

                            2. Associated (97th/Amerstersdam). Also gets overlooked. Produce is not bad, actually. Its just that the store is set up in a cramped way and gets overcrowded. You can get great deals on items that you need, especially if you are not looking for organic, etc. Also, if you like cooking Mexican and/or Spanish, they have a very large selection.

                            3. Whole Foods (97th/Columbus). As long as you have time to devote to shopping, its fun to go to whole foods and try out their produce. Fish is also decent. Also, very very good beer selection, including craft beers.

                            4. Joons (97th (98th)?/amsterdam). This is just a fish shop. Best fresh fish on the UWS, outside of Citeralla in the 70s (and much cheaper and nicer people).

                            5. Gourmet Garage (96-97/bway). Gourmet Garage is by far the most overpriced place in this portion of the UWS. However, that said, since Whole Foods opened they have been running weekly deals that are actually very reasonable. Just don't get into the habit of frequenting this place often, as it will kill your wallet. Also, best OJ in town, IMO.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: ggbrock

                              The Associated on 97th is the most filthy grocery store I have been in in quite some time. It will be interesting to see the new "mega Associated" that is going into the new building on 99th & Amsterdam. I assume they will close the rat hole that is the 97th St. location.

                              1. re: ggbrock

                                I second Joon's fish market -- an overlooked find!

                                I like Barzini's on Broadway near 91st for the odd item, and for good prices on milk.

                                2455 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

                                1. re: rteplow

                                  Barzini's also has the virtue of being open 24 hours.

                              2. I live on the UWS and finding this thread is amazing, thank you! I actually came across this in a search for a good Indian market in the area. Any ideas? Looking to make daals and soups that use things like Asafetida and fenugreek seeds, and am hoping I won't have to spend hours searching every corner of Fairway to discover it.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Adam L

                                  You can certainly get a lot of items, especially upstairs in the bulk section at Fairway. Things like split peas, lentils, all the dried beans and such (they might have besan as well, though not positive about the bulk area; they probably carry Bob's Red Mill).

                                  If you want a more thorough shopping for all your Indian ingredients, it's worth a trip to Kalustyan's. Though many things like split peas will be more expensive there, you can certainly find all of your spice needs and such.

                                  As far as I know, the 74th Street Fairway only has 2 spice "rack" areas -- in the "corridor" (the short area that connects the two buildings) across from the pasta sauce on the lower level; and second, upstairs at the back of one of the aisles. I've never looked for asafetida there.

                                  123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                  Fairway Market
                                  2127 Broadway, New York, NY 10023