Good, inexpensive produce (or, yet another reason to quit the Food Coop)

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Photos by Daniel Myers

Move toward the light. I’ll back up slightly: Leave the N train at the Fort Hamilton Parkway stop, exit onto the parkway, look to your right, and move toward the light. That would be the floodlit mountains of fruit and vegetables piled in bins along the sidewalk outside Circus Fruits, at the corner of Fort Hamilton Parkway and 60th Street.

The concept here is easy to grasp. Picture the produce at the Korean market down the street. Picture heroic amounts of it at a block-long supermarket that’s open 24 hours a day, in a drab no-man’s land at the nexus between Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst.

Now picture prices that might suggest a misprint if they weren’t markered up on bold cardboard signs. Like a carton of grape tomatoes for 50 cents. A five-pound bag of russet potatoes for a buck. Bok choy and zucchini and red delicious apples for 39 cents a pound. (Some of these are sale prices, so your mileage may vary. See for current specials.)

Produce is the main draw here, but there’s a deli counter inside where things worth your attention include proscuitto di Parma at $16 a pound, hunks of Pecorino Romano for a ridiculous $5.99 and kalamata olives for $2 a pound.

I could go on, but you get the idea. And the quality is quite good. OK, there are hits and misses—and maybe Tom Collichio isn’t going to be serving up those 29-cent-a-pound bell peppers at Craft—but that’s true of most produce stands.

Like, for example, Circus’ rival up the parkway, Three Guys from Brooklyn, at 65th Street, whose slogan is “The Original Poor People’s Friend,” and whose prices are comparable. We’ll give Circus the nod for superior quality and a less jammed layout, but for the bargain hunter, it can be worth a stop at both, especially to investigate the weekly specials, which on our recent trip to Three Guys included $1.39 pineapples and 40-cent artichokes.

Photo by Daniel Myers

Circus Fruits, 5916 Ft. Hamilton Pkwy, between 59th and 60th streets, 718-436-2100.

Three Guys From Brooklyn 6502 Fort Hamilton Parkway, 718-748-8340

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    1. My experience is that the overall quality is good provided you are planning to use what you buy right away. But in the case of things melons that may be a good thing.

    2. i’ve been going to 3 guys and circus for years and i’ve always found that 3 guys has better quality produce but circus is a little cheaper. i agree with you about the brutal layout at 3 guys, though.

    3. wow- i think you missed the point of the coop. I’ve been a member for over 27 years. The thing I like best about the coop is the wide assortment of organic food. you can’t compare non-organic to organic prices as at circus etc.Also, the work at the coop isn’t total drudgery and it gives you a sense of community. In addtion, most people actually say, excuse me or pardon me or do you like that product, or do you have a good recipe for that? yes, it gets crowded at times, but it has a lot to offer. Its really hard to compare the coop to other places and as they say, almost 15,ooo people can’t be wrong!

    4. I’m sorry -the COOP’s produce is the best in the city – these kinds of places cannot compare in quality.

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