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Oct 17, 2006 05:48 PM

22nd. & Irving Produce Market - It's MUCH More than Produce.

Years ago I used to live in the Inner Sunset and shopped at the 22nd. and Irving produce market often because it was cheap and the produce was always nice and fresh. This weekend we were in the neighborhood and it was convenient to stop there for the week's produce. Was I in for a surprise!

Well, it is completely changed on the inside, although just driving by it looks like any other Chinese produce market - which is what it used to be. NOW, the first thing you see on entering is a giant pyramid of all butter/no chemicals panetone - over a pound for $1.99 (it was really good too - toasted and well buttered), a carton of bacala, sacks of risotto and Indian basmati rice with a freebie spice assortment givaway, and whole grain kasha (hard to find). Venturing further in you find a fine selection of teas, coffees, polenta, a huge selection of odd dried beans - I think I counted 4 different lima beans to choose from, cheeses (kashkaval! I couldn't believe it - the cheese manager at Bi-Rite did not know what kashkaval was), about half a dozen feta choices, huge institutional size cans of dolma for $4.99, tons of Italian pasta, and a huge selection of what New Yorkers call "appetizing" items: odd but fascinating jarred salads, condiments, preserves, pickles, and bizarre delicacies of many nations.

I had to ask myself: did the Chinese owners take on a Separdic Jewish partner at some time? The Mediterranean influence is striking. Whoever is ordering their non-produce items is very savvy too: the goods seem universally to be without nasty chemicals and do not have a shopworn look. Except for the produce, it's as if Haig's on Clement was wildly expanded and brought into the 21st. century. You get a wild feeling of schizophrenia. I love this place.

The produce, although still nice and fresh, as in years past, is no longer a bargain. Their produce prices are exactly average. Less than Golden Produce on Church at Market but more expensive than K & J on the south end of Divisadero. But the non-produce items make the 22nd. and Irving produce market an almost one stop shopping destination for my kind of home cooking.

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  1. I love this place, but when I mention it to people I often get a blank stare in return (esp. from trend-chasing "foodies"!).

    I mean, really. Gooseberries? Fresh dates still on the branch? Greek yogurt and Bulgarian feta on the cheap? Etc, etc.

    Now if only they sold meats!

    1. I have been shopping at 22nd and Irving for the past 30 years and it has been the premier fruit and vegetable retailer in the Sunset.

      How did you get the idea that it was a Chinese produce market?????

      The business has been owned by the same Greek family for over 30 years and they have been selling a full dairy assortment of milk and cheeses, and other Mediterranean items and breads for most of their 30 years in business.

      Granted, it is now surrounded by Asian markets, what sets this place apart is its selection of items, both Asian and Mediterranean, and its cleanliness. In comparison to the surrounding markets on Irving, this place maintains a clean sidewalk and does not overstock its displays like the other markets between 23rd Ave and 25th Ave where it looks like a flea market moved in.

      4 Replies
      1. re: jboz

        Do they sell Greek yogurt? How is it?

        1. re: rworange

          You know, rw, after I got turned on to QUARK and bought my quark maker, I have not looked back. So I didn't check out the yogurt. In terms of my QUARK aspirations though, they did actually have Bulgarian buttermilk - the best for making quark.

      2. If you like the 22d and Irving market, check out the Parkside Market on Taraval and about 17th. Very similar, although not quite as wide a selection.

        1. I too have been shopping at the 22nd and Irving market for at least 25 years and I don't remember it ever being a Chinesw produce market. It has always carried the items that the OP discussed. The OP may be thinking about the Asian market on the corner of 23rd and Irving, which was a May Wah before but now has changed hands.

          1. People get the impression that 22nd & Irving is a Chinese market because some of the cashiers are Chinese/speak Cantonese, and in the back of the store where the refrigerated section is are some Vitasoy products like tofu and the Vitasoy drinks and branded soymilks. But that's where the Chinese part of the market ends. There's a great variety of other things here.

            Other than that, the produce offered here is great, superb value compared to 99 Ranch and Marina Supermarket in San Mateo/Foster City, and best of all my guinea pig loves the greens I get from here.