San Francisco fancies itself a mecca of many things, great food among them. Sure, we’ve got some amazing restaurants, from Michelin-starred Coi and Acquerello to some kick-ass taquerias in the Mission. But for those who like to start from seasonal scratch without darkening the doors of the nearest Whole Foods or their schmancy neighborhood market, there are dozens of farmer’s markets throughout town and throughout the week.
The granddaddy of them all is the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, held on Saturday mornings at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. While some claim it’s suited for no one but snobby food elitists, I’ve found the prices to be on par with other markets and grocery stores. Well, for the most part. It’s possible to spend a small fortune, or a big one, on exotic mushrooms at Far West Fungi, and at Prather Ranch you can spend five bucks for a hot dog (and buy a T-shirt that says Praise the Lard) but it’s also possible to buy heirloom tomatoes for a couple of bucks a pound at the height of the season. Anthony Bourdain, of “No Reservations” fame, wanted to hate the market, but he ended up liking it. So there.
There’s also a huge market on Alemany Boulevard — the Alemany Farmer’s Market, which has been in operation since 1943. Yep, 1943, and in its current location since 1947. (Perhaps this one qualifies as the granddaddy of them all…) Open from 8-3 every Saturday of the year, it doesn’t have the swank waterfront setting of the Ferry Building, but it’s chock full of fresh, cheap produce. And people. Lots and lots of people, getting their eats for the week.
The other biggie is at Civic Center — the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, in operation since 1981. Open Sunday 7 AM -5 PM and Wednesday 7 AM – 5:30 PM, this market has the mission of:
[Providing] San Francisco’s urban communities in the Civic Center, Tenderloin, South of Market, and surrounding neighborhoods with fresh, locally-grown produce, help support local and sustainable farming, and help enable San Francisco to eat healthy on a budget.
Sounds like an wonderfully good plan to me.
On a smaller scale there’s the Upper Haight Farmers’ Market on Waller @ Stanyan, Wednesday evenings from 4-8 PM, April through October. In that same neck of the woods is the Inner Sunset Farmers’ Market, Sundays 9 AM – 1 PM, year round. For Duboce Triangle and the Castro, there’s the Castro Farmers’ Market on Noe Street @ Market, Wednesday 4-8 PM, March – December.