Whole Foods Brings Its Great Generic Deli Standards To The East Side
As we told you a couple weeks ago, the east side Whole Foods is open, bringing our favorite generic deli to the upper east corner of the ML boundaries. Since I don’t work anywhere near there, it took me a little time to make the trek to check out what they’re offering, although my suspicion was that it would be like the one on the west side. I was right, which is great news for you Midtown east readers. For the rest of us, it’s a bit of a hike, but can be a rewarding one.
The by-the-pound area is $8.99/lb, which means, of course, you must be judicious with your choices, like Zach was in his original review of the Time Warner Center location. As far as I can tell, the options are the same as other Whole Foods in the city. The hot area includes comfort food, like mac n cheese, as well as Indian and Thai dishes. Framing the steam tables and salad bars are the typical sushi stations, pizzas, etc, as well as the refrigerated items.
The Mediterranean stuff looked really good, with falafel, hummus, stuff eggplant and more.
Pre-packaged sandwiches and salads, including portioned by-the-pound options, are in the refrigerated area for grab-and-go.
The refrigerated case also includes Indian lunch boxes called “cafe spice,” quesadillas, empanadas and much more. The empanadas are more than twice the size of those at Nuchas and are under $5 each, which means you can try a couple and stay within the ML range.
The jerk chicken empanada ($4.99) sounded pretty irresistible, so I picked up one of those. I warmed it in a microwave, but I imagine if you had access to a toaster oven, that’d be the preferred way to crisp up the crust. The pastry on the outside was on the thick side. Buttery and flaky, it was stuffed with spiced chicken thigh meat. I expected it to pack a little heat, since the ingredients on the label included habaneros (twice, actually), but it was pretty mild.
I also filled a small sized container with some of the Indian options — vegetable biryani, chicken tikka masala, aloo baijan and a vegan pancake (I forget what it was called) that sat beside the tray of samosas. My careful planning kept this container to $5, which when coupled with the empanada, was just within budget. Just.
Upstairs there is a coffee and juice bar, as well as plenty of seating, in case you’re not ready to head back to the office right away. While I’d never go so far as to call Whole Foods a bargain, it does offer such a wide array of well-prepared foods, and it is the only generic deli I’d make that kind of trek for.
Whole Foods, 226 E 57th Street (btw. 2nd+3rd)