The Best Greengrocers in Brooklyn: Messrs. Melon, Kiwi, and CoCo — A Love Story

Messrs. Melon, Kiwi, Pina and Lime — A Love Story

I think it started when I bought my first gigantic navel orange (heavy as a baby, arguably more rewarding) for $1. That was with Mr. Melon in Clinton Hill. Things got more serious when I discovered his juices—$4 for a large, all the kale and ginger in the world, the most efficient chopping and juicer-stuffing techniques I’d ever seen. I had one every day. Then asian pears went on sale, 2 for $1, I bought a whole box of clementines for $2, and organic (!) raspberries were $1.

Other delis paled.

To call the Mr. Kiwi, CoCo, Lime, Piña, Berry and Melon stores delis is wrong, technically, because there’s no place to order a sandwich, but grocery seems wrong too, because that includes Key Foods and catastrophically large places like Whole Foods Williamsburg. The Kiwis and CoCos are in a league of their own, and anyone lucky enough to live near one knows exactly what I’m talking about. Yelp is on fire with praise: “Mr. CoCo has achieved perfection, it is not so much a store as a state of  being. It is all things…” and “Nothing good in my life has lasted. Mr. Kiwi. Pls.”

The stores—all a combination of the cheapest fruits and vegetables and then $12 honey and $6 Kombuchas—are owned by five South Korean brothers who moved here within the last 10 years or so. The eldest, June Yoon, opened Mr. Kiwi at Bushwick’s Myrtle/Broadway intersection in 2006, and the family has opened a new store every couple of years since, carefully considering proximity to subways and the number of apartments nearby.

Although it pains me to share what has been a very personal love affair—after Mr. Melon I lived near Mr. CoCo, and now I’m a block from the original, Mr. Kiwi—it’s clear there’s enough to go around. So if you’re not already on the program, here’s how you should manage a visit to your local Mister.

MORNING: Get a juice. Obviously. Hungover? Get your $2 coconut water and your $6 kombucha. Yes, three drinks is a good way to start the day. Stock up on whatever box of fruit is cheapest (they’re usually $1 or $2) and then run to the subway (they’re all conveniently located near the subway! Except Mr. CoCo). If you’re not hungover, breakfast will cost $5 (if you’re an egg sandwich person, see below, where I outline acceptable reasons to cheat on your local Mister).

LUNCH: Sushi. It’s the best deli sushi you will ever eat in your life, ever. $3.99 for an avocado roll.

POST-WORK: This is when things can skyrocket at the register if you’re not careful. Eggs, greens, avocados (sometimes 3 for $1) and pasta are good choices; a 12-pack of shitty beer is $10 (Mr. Kiwi sometimes stocks Schaefer, the gorgeous New York classic). A dear friend of mine used to swear by a Mr. Melon dinner she called noodles & coins, which made good use of their fairly-priced chicken sausage. If steak is your thing, you might consider periods of separation from your local Mister: they don’t really handle meat.

LATE-NITE: All the stores are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At midnight, the sushi is half price. This is a superb time to buy ice cream, but there’s no discount on ice cream, ever.

Here are the reasons to cheat on your local Mister: for Utz chips, which they inexplicably do not stock, for 22oz Ballantine, for any kind of sandwich, and to pet a cat. These are all acceptable reasons to visit your normal, boring corner deli.

Image: Lauren Ro

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