Nestled in one of the USA’s most abundant agricultural areas, San Francisco is home to some of the nation’s first farmers’ markets. With more local markets across all of the city’s neighborhoods than one could ever hope to patronize, San Francisco’s markets also give back to the community, supporting civic education and local music. Likewise, the Bay is no stranger to food trucks, pop up markets and gourmet food products. Here are ten farmers’ markets well worth visiting if you’re in San Francisco.
Alemany Farmers’ Market
Known by San Franciscans as “the people’s market,” the Alemany Farmers’ Market has been thriving in the city since 1943, making it San Francisco’s oldest Farmers’ Market and, incidentally, the oldest in the state. Every Saturday, the Alemany Farmers’ Market occupies Alemany Boulevard whatever the weather may be, bridging a number of neighborhoods with its central location. Today’s mantra of eating fresh and buying local resounds with the Alemany Farmers’ Market’s initial purpose, which was to bring together produce grown in “Victory Gardens” during the Second World War. Amazing vendors aside, the Alemany Farmers’ Market is undeniably a historical institution.
Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market
Held thrice weekly in front of San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building, the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market is one of the city’s more scenic locations to stock up on produce from a wide swathe of organic farmers hailing from around the Bay area. The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market began as a one-off in 1992, but quickly became a regular installation on the waterfront thanks to its success. The market also marks the beginning of a massive urban regeneration program, beginning with the collapse of a two-tier freeway which divided the waterfront from the city in the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1889. Since then, San Francisco’s waterfront has evolved into one of the most lively pedestrian areas of the city, with the Farmer’s Market at its epicenter and exciting additions like the new location of the Exploratorium on nearby Pier 15. The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market is managed by Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, which provides information on seasonal produce to educate consumers.
Mission Community Market / Mercado Comunitario de la Mission
Located in the vibrant Mission neighborhood, the Mission Community Market serves both as market and community hub, bringing together local food and community-based activism every Thursday. The market comprises of more than 30 vendors, selling produce as well as handmade food products, from homemade beef jerky, pastas and ravioli to dates, mushrooms and cheeses. In the spirit of a local food community, profits are reinvested into educational programs published in English and Spanish, reflecting the largely Hispanic identity of the neighborhood. Weekly live music performances also add to the atmosphere of the market, featuring bluegrass, salsa and other eclectic acts.
Heart of the City Farmers’ Market
Farmers' Market, Market, American
As the name suggests, Heart of the City Farmers’ Market is situated in a prime location on San Francisco’s United Nations Plaza, along the urban artery of Market Street. With 30 years of experience linking local farmers to the local community, the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market is a neighborhood institution that has long focused on bringing fresh and affordable produce to the surrounding area that lacks a proper market. This populist spirit is reflected in the affordable prices that can be found across stalls and the market’s shoestring, non-profit budget. Heart of the City Farmers’ Market’s name gains another layer of nuance in light of their strong educational program committed to promoting health and demystifying veggies.
Ferry Building Marketplace
Located inside the Ferry building across a number of handsomely furnished specialty food stalls and vendors is the Ferry Building Marketplace. With delicacies ranging from locally pressed olive oils (with exotic flavors like mandarin orange and chili pepper) to fresh juices and gluten-free baked goods, the Ferry Building Marketplace gives New York’s Chelsea Market a run for its money as one of the country’s premiere urban delicacy markets. After shopping for gourmet cheeses and flowers, visitors can choose from a range of sit-down establishments, ranging from cafes and restaurants to delis and coffee shops to settle into and watch the passersby boarding and disembarking the ferries. Located adjacent to the tri-weekly farmers’ market held in front of the Ferry Building, the marketplace is the go-to location for upscale foods and goods.
Noe Valley Farmers’ Market
Located in San Francisco’s southern neighborhood of Noe Valley, the quarter’s eponymous farmers’ market emerged directly as a result of community organization and continues to nurture the same local ethos. The market was born out of a local crisis – the closure of the neighborhood’s primary health food store. Following the failure of the health food store, the neighborhood devised the farmers’ market to continue to sustain and support local farmers and producers, as well as consumers, marking another remarkable victory for food-based community activism in the city. Today, Noe Valley Farmers’ Market provides produce and prepared food, including juices, handmade enchiladas, home-baked bread and even dessert.
Off the Grid
Food Stall, Fast Food
Reflecting San Francisco’s burgeoning start-up identity, Off the Grid gathers a diverse range of food vendors numbering over 200 for San Francisco’s most vibrant weekly street food event. Taking place every Friday evening at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center, Off the Grid has also expanded its roster of events to a weekly Sunday afternoon picnic in the Presidio, and a late-summer Thursday night market in the same location. With hundreds of vendors, the choice will not be between what kinds of food, but how many different dishes one can possibly consume, with a cart dedicated to crème brulee, another dedicated to lobster, numerous vegan options and an endless scope of cuisines from Asian fusion to burgers and Mexican specialties. Food of all types can be washed down with an impressive array of beverage vendors, from Rye on the Road cocktail specialists to craft beers and wine.
Soma StrEatfood Park
Food Court, American, $$$
Transforming the post-industrial space of San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood is the Soma StrEatfood Park, offering a permanent venue for the city’s premiere food truck vendors. Open seven days a week, the StrEatfood Park provides a continuously changing roster of vendors and an exciting schedule of events, from night bazaars to sports viewing parties. Weekly events also ensure a regular source of entertainment with delicious food and specials, from bottomless Mimosa Sundays to Friday night comedy shows and karaoke Saturdays. The StrEatfood Park’s Streat Brew truck is one of the first of its kind to serve tap beers, wines and even sangria with an unmissable weekday happy hour.
Fillmore Farmers’ Market
Located at the Filmore Center Plaza, the Fillmore Farmers’ Market concentrates on bringing fresh produce to the neighborhood while supporting local jazz musicians. Weekly performances during the market’s Saturday hours from nine in the morning to one in the afternoon stem from a collaboration with the Fillmore Jazz Preservation District Merchants Association, working to encourage and support local jazz artists.
Castro Farmers’ Market
Farmers' Market, Street Food, Healthy
One of San Francisco’s most colorful neighborhoods also sports one of the city’s more energetic and eclectic markets. Alongside the standard set of fruits and vegetables, the Castro Farmers’ Market
also stocks local honeys, meats, seafood and local soaps.