Alemany First Timer
Hi! I am going to Alemany for my first time on Dec. 16th and I would love some guidence - What is the best time to get there? Where's the best parking? and most importantly - what are the best, absolutely must go to food stops? (both for prepared food and produce, cheese, bread, etc.)
The best time to get there is early - before 9am. I've gotten a late start the last few times I've been there and it gets very crowded. The best parking is somewhere near the exit to avoid the later traffic.
My must stop places are as follows:
- sweet potato tart thing from the guy sellng his homemade pastries, cookies and breads. The tart part is not cooked through very well but I still love his tarts.
- the alfajores at the stand that sells espresso drinks are a must. It's a covered stall on the same side and the kettle corn guy
- the fresh nuts and dried fruits are great
- the tamales are small, but quite good.
- there's only one place selling a variety of bread and you'll see it since the line is always really long.
- as for produce, I buy randomly and don't buy from one stand in particular. However, you'll find that pomelos are almost in season and I always buy them at Alemany.
I just got back, and based on what i saw, you'd better come hungry. In the past few months a lot more food vendors have become regulars. In addition to the famous All-Star Tamales, you can get a huarache or really good Mexican coffee next door at El Huarache Loco. There's a fresh churros stand now, and the guys from Brittany Crepes have tons of sweet and savory options. Today, the famly that sells fresh-baked desserts also had hot food like Beef & Tomato shortribs over rice and chicken curry. The tortilla guys are also a new addition, selling Sonoran-style corn tortillas that strike a perfect balance between the rich flavor of a corn tortilla and the fluffy chewiness of a flour tortilla. I'm seriously contemplating going back for lunch.
A few of my regular stops:
- Panorama baking (that's Ralph, "the Brazilian guy") for rustic loaves, breakfast pastry & great cheap drip coffee
- The family at the big stand at the front (perpindicular to the concrete stalls), that sells inexpensive and beautiful greens (escarole, frisee, chard, etc), broccoli & celery for never more than $1 a bunch
- The Italian family that sells gorgeous, unusual, and premium-priced citrus. Right now, they have Buddha's hands, blood oranges and tangerine-quats, but they'll have my favorite cara-cara oranges in a few weeks.
- Haney's Egg Ranch with some of the freshest and least-expensive eggs I have ever laid hands on
- The woman who sells flowers and only 2-3 vegetables every week that are meticulously selected, wrapped to go, and of perfect quality. Past selections included sweet baby carrots, french green & purple beans and sugar-snap peas.
Right now, the seasonal items you can find at many stands include:
- Persimmons (Fuyu and well-ripened Hachiya)
- Pears of all sorts
- Apples of all varieties
- Navel oranges and Satsuma mandarin oranges
I love her, she's the quirkiest thing at the market. Seconding votes for the mushroom stand, ask about any of her more unusual items and she will tell you how to prepare, how long to keep, etc, and for the tamales and Huarache Loco. I don't get the appeal of the crepe stand, they seem very spendy and not that great.
For general produce, I don't have favorite purveyors at Alemany the way I do at Ferry Plaza, there I usually walk around once to see what's good, and circle again to shop. My only real favorite was the family that sold all the Asian vegetables and herbs at the northeast end of the market, are they gone for the winter or gone for good?
There is always parking in the back in the big lot behind the stalls. Just drive past the front lane and small lots and circle back to the left.
As one who has gone to this market on and off since 1972, you have good advice. Go early and park so that you can get out. Produce, choose what looks or tastes good.