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Help me find great produce in the Monterey Bay Area

  • m

I spend a lot of weekends in Pacific Grove, and I can't believe that in the heart of one of the largest agricultural areas in the country, I can't seem to find decent produce. {Since I'm only here on weekends, the Tues/Thurs Farmers markets aren't an option.) I know I can always go to Whole Foods, but I've never been wowed by WF, even ignoring the prices. (Plus, I'd like something a little more "local.") I've also tried, and been underwhelmed by, Earthbound Farms, the little produce market in the former gas station on Lighthouse, and the larger produce market off Del Monte near the entrance to highway 1. So far the best I've found is Star Market, but that's quite a schlep for everyday shopping. So is there a farm stand, produce market or grocery store with good produce I'm missing?

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  1. It's too bad there isn't a Saturday market, but maybe because there is so much of an influx of weekend visitors, most locals prefer to stay out of traffic on Saturday?

    From PG head over Holman's Hiway (68) to 1 south, then turn left onto Carmel Valley Rd heading east. At the first signal, turn right. Then left into the center-- there's an organic market near the car wash. Pretty nice produce. Get out early to avoid the traffic jams. Stop at Red's for donuts! On the Penninsula, it's not so much about mileage distance but conjestion.

    From which direction are you coming? If you pass south of S Cruz on 1 , stop at Watsonville, and taking the Airport Blvd exit, follow the road across Freedom Blvd. It arcs to the right and turns into Hollohan Rd. At the corner of Hollohan and E Lake Blvd there is a nice produce stand. (Or take Hecker Pass Rd in Gilroy if coming from the South Bay.)

    I believe that some S Cruz hounds shop in the area, too, so maybe they could help with other shopping possibilites.

    From there, stop at Pezzini Farms for produce on your way into the Mont Bay area on 1, just south of Castroville, or at the Giant Artichoke in C'ville

    1. Actually, I like Grove Market on Forest near downtown PG. It is a locals market, stocks much local produce and has a wide range of good breads.

      On my most recent trip, I noticed that Marina has a farmer's market also, and I think (but am not sure) that it takes place on a weekend day. I've never been there, but it might be worth finding out about.


      1. I haven't been there myself, but my brother highly recommends this place ... might be too far for just a weekend stay, but perhaps worth the time....


        1. Agree with PhooD about Grove Mkt, I also like Monterey Produce on Fremont in N. Monterey close to the border with Seaside. It's run by a Japanese family, usually pick up several loaves of their Ciabatta and/or Sourdough to bring home, share and freeze.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PolarBear

            Thanks, all, for the suggestions. I'll have to look more closely at Grove Market -- I think I've only bought meat there in the past. I look forward to checking out the other places as well. If anyone has other ideas, keep 'em coming.

          2. There are three farmers' stands along 1 that Clan Ranger hits on our frequent trips to Monterey: the artichoke stand off 156 in Castroville, either stand just north, outside Moss Landing (both on the Pacific side of 1. I've blanked (curse Parentitis!) on all three names now and can't remember where I've placed their business cards. The prices are competitive but the quality has _usually_ been top-notch -- especially the artichokes!

            1. Yes, Star Market is a godsend and a local institution. Is Salinas too far if there's more on offer? It has a farmers market on Saturdays.
              I'm not here on Saturdays so have not visited it myself.

              Marina has its market on Sundays.


              This won't help you, but my mom and I walked the Tuesday market yesterday in downtown Monterey and enjoyed it greatly.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                I love Star, partly because I always find things I don't expect -- like one of the best selections of ceramic knives I've ever seen in a retail store (go figure!). I just wish it were closer. Salinas is farther, of course, but it might make a fun Sat. morning outing. Thanks for the tip.

              2. There's a Farmers' Market on Saturdays, I believe, in Marina.

                1. I live across the bay in aptos, so if you are in our area I can suggest two places you need to check out. First, every Saturday morning there is a great Farmers Market at Cabrillo College - delicious produce, fish, bread, fresh eggs, flowers, etc. It's a great way to start your weekend.

                  Also, if you are passing through the area on your way to PG, try Deluxe Foods in Aptos on Rio Del Mar Blvd - just off Hwy 1. They carry primarily locally grown produce, have a great meat & fish department and best cheese & olives around.

                  1. My very favorite produce place is the organic farm stand off Hwy 1 (riverside/129 exit) just south of Watsonville. They are open Wed-Sun 10-6. Their prices are better than the farmers markets and they are really nice people. They also have great cut flowers. If you are heading to PG from the bay area it is well worth the stop. There is also a farm stand in Salinas called "The Farm". I think you take the Spreckles exit off of Hwy 68.

                    1. The Farm stand on 68 just before you enter Salinas has some outstanding tomatoes right now. I love their root on basil that keeps forever (well at least 2-3 weeks) in water covered on the counter.

                      I mean all their tomatoes are yum. I also like the corn, but it is slow this year.

                      And if you go another 1/2 mile Star is very good.

                      Whole Foods offers some pricey veg in Del Monte Center.

                      The Earthbound Farms Stand in Carmel Valley is worth a trip, but again, pricey.

                      Lots of Korean veg stands where you have to pick through stuff but can find some value.

                      There is a Salinas and Aptos market. Both terrific.

                      1. Meant to say on Saturday about the Salinas and Aptos market.

                        The other markets in Monterey are Tuesday/Thursday.

                        On Sunday there is a small market in Marina.