What is a New York City Bodega?

July 3, 2023 | 4 minute read | the RENT BETTA team

https://unsplash.com/photos/LsPK8yJxNKY Brooklyn Bodega 320 border

Everyone keeps talking about bodegas, but what are they?

This is a word you hardly hear anywhere else in the U.S.

And what's with all the corner stores in NYC, can't you find any larger chain stores here?

New York City bodegas are the little corner stores you see every block or two, selling snacks, small household goods, beer, and sandwiches. They're great for convenience, but a little high on prices.

What is the Meaning of the Word Bodega?

Bodega means "storeroom" or "grocery store" in Spanish, and they sprang up rapidly in New York City after World War II following a waive of immigration from Puerto Rico.

Bodegas were common on the island, and the idea took off in New York City.

Today, their may be as many as 13,000 bodegas across NYC, but they operate independently from each other, and are typically family-owned.

What is a NYC Bodega?

Bodegas are small convenience stores located all over New York City that provide residents with a convenient and nearby way to purchase household essentials or grab a sandwich. They often operate 24 hours a day and can be found in almost any direction after walking a few blocks. These stores are typically run by independent owners, giving them a mom-and-pop feel. The staff behind the counter are usually friendly, and it's easy to strike up a conversation and build a relationship with them if you visit often. By getting to know the local businesses in your neighborhood, New York City can start to feel like a smaller, more familiar place.

Congratulations, you're now a true New York City local! We wish there were more real grocery stores and chains in NYC though, which offer more selection and lower prices. Bodegas carry similar items to what you'd find at a 7-11, so don't expect to get your week's shopping done there.

If you're looking to save money in NYC, delivery from Amazon Fresh or a Trader Joe's run are your best bets for real groceries. Gristedes is overpriced, and less clean. Walmart.com is the cheapest way to buy household items, and has free delivery for orders over $35.

But that bodega at Avenue A and 13th St? They slice a roast beef sandwich on wheat, with extra muenster and mustard, just right.