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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.)

Thank you!!

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  1. 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.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mari

      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
      - Squash
      - Pomegranates
      - Grapes
      - Apples of all varieties
      - Navel oranges and Satsuma mandarin oranges

      Have fun!

    2. For me, the highlight of the alemany farmer's market is always the saw playin' lady with the dancing cat.

      6 Replies
      1. re: bdl

        Dancing cat? You've convinced me to visit this market.

        Every Saturday?

        1. re: bdl

          The saw-playing lady with the dancing cat is Jackie Jones. Read about her in this article. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

          1. re: bdl

            She creeps me out even worse than the hippie at the Berkeley farmers market who does folkie covers of Velvet Underground songs.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              The saw lady totally creeps me out too. You are not alone.

              1. re: Atomica

                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?

          2. 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.

            1. Get there early, well before 9:00am if you can.

              1. 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.

                1. One of the best deals to me (which I sorely miss living in the East Bay) is the nuts at Ferrari (sp?) brothers. Perhaps the prices have gone up, but I used to by 2-3 lb of walnuts at a time, broken organic, and use them on hot cooked fruit over cottage cheese. Yum, a breakfast sundae. And in cakes, cookies, etc. They were like $2.50/lb a few years ago and super fresh. Not a bitter note in the bag.

                  The Brazilian guys' bread was INCREDIBLE. Their custard Danish too.

                  1. I live above the market, and happen to be heading out the door (on foot) right now.
                    On days when I have to drive (like when stocking up on 10# bags of oranges or whole melons), it's absolutely imperative that you arrive by 8:00. For your best parking approach, go beyond the main entrance and turn down Tompkins street, which will take you to the back parking lot without the long lines. For a quick escape, park on Tompkins iteslf without actually going into the maze that is the parking lot. There are a number of head-in spaces at the bottom of the hill or along the back fence that may still be open.
                    Good luck, and enjoy!

                    1. Thank you all so much! I'm really looking forward to my visit next weekend- I am just wrapping up a 3 month stay in Glasgow and now I have even more of a reason to be excited about returning home to San Francisco!

                      1. Got to put in another good word for the All Star Tamales. I just love the tamales there. If I take them home, I pick up a variety. If I was to get one to consume on the spot, I often have stare at the menu for a while as it's so hard to choose from all the yummy fillings.

                        Other than what are mentioned above, there are a few other places I like: (Sorry, but not good with names of the stands)

                        Mushroom Stand - lots of different mushroom to choose from that are fresh and reasonably priced
                        Honey Stand - a vareity of good quality honey to choose from that great prices. You can taste the different honey as well.
                        Cheese Stand - got some yummy cheese there the last time we were there. Try some of the samples.
                        Rodriguez Farm - I know strawberries aren't in season right now. But when they are, this is where I pick them up.
                        Duck Eggs - you can get them from either of the egg stands.

                        Oh yeah, the dancing cat usually won't be there till a little later, maybe around 9:30 or 10:00. We've been there early before and she had yet to set up shop.

                        I usually park at the smaller lot on the other side of the market. When you turn into the market, instead of going right, turn left and there's a small lot on your left. That lot gets busy and you sometimes will have to wait. However, it's much easier to get in and out from that lot.

                        Since it's your first time, take the time to browse at every stand. I'm sure you'll be able to find some great stuff there. Enjoy!

                        1. Just for a different opinion, I always go in the afternoon. You can't get there too late or everyone is gone, but you can get whole crates for a few dollars around 1:30 or 2.

                          My favorites: the honey stand in the archway, the mushrooms, the dried peaches and plums back by the apples, the citrus in the front, and any of the flowers.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Windy

                            I usually don't go that early either, more from laziness and not wanting to get up in the am than anything else. Plus, when I go, I like to lunch there!

                            I like the citrus, the honey stand and the tamales.

                            It always seems like parking is going to be an issue (when I don't walk: it isn't that far for me, but quite a steep haul uphill coming home), but in the end I never have too much trouble finding a place. At noon I can usually find an open slot along the fence to the right after entering (as someone pulls out).

                            1. re: Windy

                              Going toward the end definitely has its advantages, such as lower prices and not as crowded.
                              The major disadvantage of doing so is the selection. If you're looking for something in particular, you run the risk of the stands running out. I have had that happened to me several times. It's not the biggest deal, it just meant that I had to make trips elsewhere to pick up what I needed.