Bodega.  The word means cellar or a small warehouse.  They must have begun in the cellars beneath the buildings lining the streets and avenues of New York.

Today the word has a different meaning.  It is used to describe the local grocery/deli/hardware/convenience stores that dot the avenues here.  In a town without “real” supermarkets and where walking is the preferred mode of transportation, these small and usually friendly stores play an important role in the neighborhoods they serve.

In addition to stocking an amazingly large variety of items in a very small space, and hosting a well-stocked deli/café, they are social hubs where people gather for breakfast and lunch, exchange weather predictions, and serve as a place to express the latest opinions and thoughts on city politics.

Bodagas are not places I would have selected to shop in Texas, but here in New York they provide a warm and friendly sense of comfort and community.

Tip:  Ahh….the bedago!  These are interesting little stores. A little bit convenience store, a little bit grocery store, and a whole lot sandwich deli!

They are all over the place.  There will be 3 or 4 on almost every block.  It seems strange that they almost all are on the streets (short blocks) and not on the avenues (long blocks).  Don’t know why it works that way.

When I walk into one, I am drawn to the deli counter where you can get sandwiches, salads…anything for a quick, fairly inexpensive lunch.  And the people who run them are really friendly and helpful.

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