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Less expensive high-quality produce?

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Does anyone have any recommendations of where in the West LA/Santa Monica area to buy good, high-quality fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices? (e.g. not Whole Foods)

I know the farmers markets are great, but they're still pretty expensive, and I'm wondering if there is anywhere I can go to find lower prices but still top-quality produce, even if the selection is limited?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you so much!!!

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  1. Marina Farms produce, On Centinela before Jefferson.

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    Marina Farms
    5454 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

    3 Replies
    1. re: AAQjr

      +1 on Marina Farms.

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      Marina Farms
      5454 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

      1. re: AAQjr

        +2. great produce, great prices, and the staff is really friendly and helpful.

        1. re: AAQjr

          +3 on Marina Farms. I really like going there for fruit. Great selection of apples. Good prices too.

          Lately, I've been with the quality of the produce at Top Valu Market in Culver City/Mar Vista. Seriously. :)

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          Marina Farms
          5454 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

          Top Valu Market
          4700 Inglewood Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

        2. Co-Opportunity on Broadway and 16th has excellent produce, and the prices are usually cheaper than WF.

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          Co-Opportunity
          1525 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90404

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bjartmarr

            i love the Co-op and i've been a member for a long time, but i think you do need to be a member to enjoy a true price advantage over WF. definitely like the new remodel, but it will be interesting to see if that translates to higher prices...

          2. It's not in WLA, but Super King on San Fernando is awesome. My friend had taken me there one day to check it out, and I finally went back last week. They had very nice fruits and veggies and the prices were low. I got 7 bunches each of parsley, cilantro and green onions for 99cents per seven. Radishes were like 4 for 99. Persian cukes 39cents a pound. The quality was good. It is an all encompassing market with great ethnic foods, you can find almost anything there. They also have a meat, fish, bakery and prepared foods departments.
            Don't be intimidated by the parking lot and lots of people, you can in and out very quickly, lots of checkers.

            7 Replies
            1. re: paprkutr

              I would second the rec for Super King but, at today's gas prices, the cost of a round trip from the westside might offset any savings from shopping there.

              I'm fortunate that I live just 1.5 miles from Super King.

              1. re: paprkutr

                I have to agree Super King is one of the best places for low cost/high quality. The chains are usually much more expensive than the ethnic markets. If you are in West LA even Jons is going to be cheaper for you and the quality is better.

                1. re: iohyem

                  Except there is no Jon's in WLA :(

                  Getting to Hollywood from WLA is usually going to take 45 min and show how well you know the side streets of our city. Not really useful for every day shopping. Heck it's easier to get to K-town from the westside. Cheaper to go to Wholefoods at that point, lol just think about how much you save in gas and time just trying to get out of the west side.

                  Seriously check out Marina Produce, They have a wide variety of stuff at very good prices. It's right off the 90, and centinela is usually an easy drive. Even though I can't think of much else in that area worth going too.

                  1. re: AAQjr

                    Mariscos Chente is still worth it...and 3 minutes away from Marina Farms...

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                    Mariscos Chente
                    4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                    Marina Farms
                    5454 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                    1. re: AAQjr

                      Not exactly WLA, but I could swear I've seen a Jon's on Pico at the corner of Fairfax. Checked the Jon's website and no listing for that area. Can anybody confirm or is that a figment of my overworked imagination?

                      1. re: Feed_me

                        I am almost positive that on the SW corner of Pico and Fairfax you'll find a Vons Market and across the street on the NW corner is a Walgreen's Drugstore. No Jons that I know of.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Google street view agrees: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&s...

                2. the place i go when i need to pinch pennies on produce is eilot market on pico near shenandoah.
                  they don't sell the organic high quality produce that WF does, but the price/quality ratio is better than that at regular grocery stores.

                  i don't know if the drive will be worth it given the high price of gas, though.

                  1. I stopped by Santa Monica Glatt Kosher Market yesterday for the first time. Was impressed by produce selection and prices and v. annoyed that I'd just paid 2 or 3 times more for Persian cukes, tomatoes and cherries at the SM farmers market. Also impressed w/ their prices on chicken, fresh fish and meat, and their selection of Sabra hummus. Crowded and tiny parking lot, so be prepared.

                    1. one other that hasn't been mentioned - Sprouts Farmers Market in Culver City.

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                      Sprouts Farmers Market
                      5660 S Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        on occasion i buy produce at sprouts.
                        cheap: yes
                        high quality: no.
                        reasonable quality for the price: definitely yes

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          high quality: no.

                          ~~~~~~~

                          depends on the item. lately the Persian cukes have been terrific, and their avocados are always good. and in a pinch i like the Living Herbs and the Organic Girl greens. they're in the process of re-merging with Henry's, so it will be interesting to see if that has any impact on selection, quality or prices.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            on the other hand, and OT, the quality of the Julia's Organic Ice Cream they sell there has been consistently good and priced lower than that of WF or any of the other stores... . . .

                      2. Thank you all for your myriad suggestions! I am very appreciative!!!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: alexissutherland

                          I disagree with Marina Farms having good fruit- I once bought the most tasteless green grapes from them. I've had bad luck with other selections as well... maybe the veggies are a different story, but the fruit just never worked out for me.

                          -----
                          Marina Farms
                          5454 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                          1. re: Clyde

                            that may very well be the case - now that i think about it, i only ever buy vegetables there!

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              marina farms is my go-to place for strawberries when i'm entertaining.
                              with the marina farms strawberries i've never been 'surprised' by one of those mouldy monsters hiding in the bottom of the box.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                see, and the *one* time i bought strawberries there they were mealy, spongy and tasteless. i guess it's really hit or miss with the fruit but their vegetables tend to be very good (though i don't like their cucumbers because they're never firm enough so i buy mine elsewhere).

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  The strawberries there take center stage - you can't help but consider getting some when the scent of strawberries hits you as you walk in, and then of course the end display is right there at the entrance. I think Marina Farms does a pretty good job on turnover, and something as perishable as strawberries is a good sign of this.

                                  Of course, the one consistent thing about produce in general is that it can be inconsistent. Too many factors play against the best intentions of quality particularly at the retail level. So even a place like Marina Farms that rests its reputation on good QPR can't guarantee every customer will have perfect product every time. It's just the nature of nature.

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                                  Marina Farms
                                  5454 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    It's just the nature of nature.
                                    ~~~~~~~~~~
                                    indeed! love it :)

                          2. I was impressed with the produce selection & price at Mitsuwa on Centinela.

                            1. West LA and Mar Vista farmers markets are cheaper than Santa Monica. Nijiya Market on Sawtelle is high quality and I usually find a few good deals.

                              1. The Santa Monica farmer's markets are priced for Santa Monica, unfortunately. Mar Vista on Sundays seems more affordable. The West LA farmer's market is substandard and not from local farms.

                                Marina Farms has great quality and is affordable. I shop there often. However, the produce is not as fresh and thus will not keep as long as farmer's market produce. My advice is to go at least every week, and plan to eat really ripe fruit in one or 2 days.

                                Also, the best quality is with local, seasonal produce, although Marina Farms also sells some imported/non-local produce (25% or so). Provenance is clearly labeled.

                                -----
                                Marina Farms
                                5454 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                1. Oh, I also think that Ralph's has upped its game lately. I am finding more organic, and California produce there, at (slightly?) higher quality.

                                  1. I don't know about the quality, but generally markets catering to ethnic groups (e.g., Chinese, Persian, Armenian, Mexican) have better prices than chains such as Whole Foods, Ralphs, Vons, etc. If you are on the westside, try some of the Persian markets on Westwood Blvd. between Santa Monica and Wilshire, or on Wilshire Blvd., west of the 405 freeway, such as Tehran Market, Rose Market, etc.

                                    In addition, for larger supermarkets, I like Jons, Vallarta and Northgate. You'll be suprised by the variety and selection and the prices.

                                    Regarding quality, judge by what you see. If it looks good, buy it.

                                    There's a Middle Eastern market in the Valley called Valley Produce. It is always a super crowded, traffic jam of shopping carts because of the prices. Personally, I don't like the quality of the produce, but the prices are unbeatable, at about 1/5 of big grocery store prices.

                                    Happy shopping! For the record, I have found the produce at Whole Foods overpriced and mediocre. Much better stuff at the smaller ethnic markets (better prices and quality and taste).

                                    BTW, I recently discovered Northgate Market in El Monte. This is the kind of place you are looking for, but I don't think it's on the westside. Check for locations near you. I went there earlier this week and want to return soon. The closest ones to the westside seem to be the Hawthorne and LA locations: http://www.northgatemarkets.com/store...

                                    Here's my post about my visit there: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/788091

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                                    Valley Produce
                                    18345 Vanowen St, Los Angeles, CA 91335

                                    Rose Market
                                    1922 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                    1. Find a farmers market close to your house, if it closes at 1pm, get there at 1pm, HAVE ONLY SINGLES and haggle, haggle, haggle. Don't let them see you have a stack of singles, in that case you can pay full price.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                                        Arriving toward the end of most FMs will definitely be a good time to get lower prices on produce. Most vendors/growers do not want to drive back with unsold produce, and will usually offer you a reduced price if you're showing any interest in their stuff. The downside that immediately comes to mind is severely reduced selection at many stands.

                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          I've been doing this for years. They don't want to drag it back. Regarding selection, yes, of course, but it's still weeks fresher and better than a ralphs or a jons market.

                                      2. This reply by "thestratbrat" on another thread (regarding an LA equivalent to the Berkeley Bowl up in the SF Bay area) caught my attention when he/she recommended Figueroa Produce. That reply looks to be a very good one for this thread as well: http://figueroaproduce.com/ (thanks stratbrat!) I'll try to get around to putting in a place link later today.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Place Link for Figueroa Produce (including website)

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                                          Figueroa Produce Market
                                          6312 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90042

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            Figueroa Produce is not cheap...

                                            1. re: Clyde

                                              ... and the quality of their produce is inconsistent.

                                              1. re: Sam D.

                                                But they do have Dr. Bob's ice cream!