Sure, using FreshDirect can be easy and quick, a few mouse clicks and you’re done. But what about those who don’t have a family of mouths to feed or don’t particularly enjoy cooking? The need to buy in bulk from FreshDirect and have the food delivered doesn’t really make sense. So where’s the best place to pick up those groceries on an as needed basis? In the FiDi area you’ve got three main grocery stores to choose from: Gristedes, Zeytuna and Jubilee Market.
Everyone in Manhattan is familiar with Gristedes. They’re sort of like the Marshall’s of grocery stores, except the prices aren’t cheap. Of the three different grocery stores central to FiDi, Gristedes in general has the highest prices from yogurt to fruit to cereal. Adding insult to injury the store is the least aesthetically pleasing, the smallest and offers the least diversity. There is rarely ever a line at the check out counter and with good reason, not that many people want to shop there. While the hours are decent – 6am to midnight, unless you’re buying fresh produce, you’ll be more likely to find what you need at the Duane Reade just next door and save some money in the process.
Maybe I’m a bit biased but I love Zeytuna! The produce looks fresh, clean and appetizing. The diversity in food choices is great given the relatively smallish size of the store. Plus they have a very decent selection of specialty and organic foods. What’s also great about this place is they have a large eating cafeteria downstairs with an open salad bar. And now that the weather is warming up the outdoor seating is available. The prices aren’t hugely lower than Gristedes but they are comparably better. Another thing they offer that Gristedes doesn’t – a delicious array of fresh pastries, desserts, brownies, sweets, you name it. Sometimes there’s a bit of a line but they have a decent number of cashiers and I’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes. Need to grab a breakfast on your way to work, no problem they’re open by 7am. Stuck in the office until 9pm; still no problem because they don’t close until 11pm.
It’s 2am, Saturday morning, the Starbucks has been closed for hours, there are no street vendors in site but you’re starving. Don’t worry, Jubilee is open 24 hours daily! I know I was shocked as well when I first discovered this. Even better, it’s not one of those small corner bodega’s you expect to be open 24/7. It’s a nice sized grocery store with good diversity of products and prices that rival Zeytuna’s. In comparison to Zeytuna, Jubilee is a more standard grocery with a few less specialty type foods but its far superior to Gristedes in every way. The checkout line doesn’t flow quite as nicely as Zeytuna’s but at 4:30am when you’re craving Ben & Jerry’s you’re not going to care.
If you find you’ve wandered a bit North, you’ll run into Whole Foods and The Amish Market or if you’ve made the “trek” to Battery Park City you’ll come upon Zaytuna, not to be confused with Zeytuna. These three grocery stores on the outskirts of FiDi aren’t really worth the trip – Whole Foods, I find to be a bit pricey and can be comparably more crowded than other grocery stores and The Amish Market, Zaytuna and Zeytuna are practically triplets.
90 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038
Prices: Ben & Jerry's (1 pint) $5.39; Tide (50 fl oz) $13.99; Barilla pasta (1lb) $1.99
59 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038
Prices: Ben & Jerry's (1 pint) $4.99; Tide (50 fl oz) $10.99; Barilla Pasta (1lb) $1.99
99 John Street, New York, NY 10038
Prices: Ben & Jerry's (1 pint) $4.29; Tide (50 fl oz) $11.49; Barilla Pasta (1lb) $1.79