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Looking for best fresh food buys in Mission

Hi all! I am hoping some of you can help me out. I just moved to SF and am living in the Mission. I'm excited about the neighborhood and have seen lots of produce and meat markets. Have any of you found great places in the Mission for fresh produce and/or meat/seafood? I'd appreciate any advice! - Jen

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  1. In my opinion the best all around market in the Mission is Bi-Rite, on 18th between Guerrero and Dolores. If you haven't already found it, it's a gem of a small market with great selections of everything -- meat, fish, prepared foods, wine, cheese, local produce, and they have an ice cream shop across the street called Bi-Rite Creamery with unique flavors.

    For seafood, I like Sun Fat on Mission near 23rd. Fresh fish, good service, low prices.

    There is an excellent butcher shop, Drewes Brothers, on Church Street in Noe Valley, but I haven't found a butcher shop in the Mission that I like (other than Bi-Rite).

    I get most of my produce at Bi-Rite, but there are a number of good produce places on Mission Street and on Valencia. Let your eyes and ears be your guide as to freshness.

    14 Replies
    1. re: farmersdaughter

      Also, you might consider a CSA for produce, there are a few farms with good pick up locations in the Mission. I am partial to Terra Firma (good mix of fruit and veggies) but there's also Two Small Farms and Eatwell Farms (which also has delicious eggs).
      http://www.terrafirmafarm.com/
      http://www.twosmallfarms.com/
      http://www.eatwell.com/

      1. re: bernalgirl

        Terra Firma Farm
        Two Small Farms
        Eatwell

        -----
        Terra Firma Farm
        Winters, CA, USA, Winters, CA

        Two Small Farms
        521 Harkins Slough Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076

        Eatwell Farm
        5835 Sievers Rd, Dixon, CA 95620

      2. re: farmersdaughter

        I have a growing list of complaints about Drewes, so I'm very glad to note that there is a new butcher shop opening on Cortland St. very soon.

        I adore Bi-Rite, but I'm not flush enough to use them as my main source of produce and meat. They are an occasional indulgence.

        1. re: Atomica

          I once special-ordered some caul fat from Drewes. Went in to pick it up and they handed me a block of suet.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            They just aren't a real butcher anyway. They don't break down any actual primals. They buy already cut meat and shove it into their display case.

            They told me not to bother with veal bones/veal stock, and to make beef stock instead. Um, I had kind of wanted to make veal stock and demiglace.

            They told my friend (a regular customer) that she could butterfly her own chicken at home, instead of asking them to do it. What?

            They told some other friends of mine that they don't carry eye of round and were very snotty about it.

            One of their guys never remembers how much I want of something and has to ask me 2 or 3 times, then packages up the wrong amount (recently, it was one extra extremely expensive steak). Same guy pretty forcefully told me I didn't need a certain amount of something for 2 people, until I insisted that my husband needs leftovers to take to work for his lunch.

            That's just a taste of the recent annoyances with Drewes.

            1. re: Atomica

              I'm sad to hear all this. I've had good experiences with special orders and walk-ins, what you describe (especially suet for lard) sounds like an entirely different place.

              1. re: Atomica

                I went there around Easter and ran into a bunch of guys hauling in whole lambs (slaughtered and skinned), so I think they do break down the primals, at least occasionally. And I've found them to be very helpful about suggesting portions and cooking methods.

                1. re: Euonymous

                  They weren't very helpful in explaining how to make crepinettes from a block of suet.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Well, I've never tried to buy caul fat from them. If they had handed me suet I wouldn't have paid for it, and certainly wouldn't have asked for directions on how to make crepinettes.

                    1. re: Euonymous

                      If they could have told me how to make crepinettes from it, I would have paid for it.

                  2. re: Euonymous

                    Avoid the really short guy, around 55-60 y/o, who is gruff and has a mustache. He's the one I've had a lot of trouble with. Thanks for the info on the lamb, though. Everything I reported has happened to me and pals over the last 2 months. I also brought knives in to be sharpened and had a form tossed at me that I was unable to fill out because my arms were completely full (with cargo I could not put down), and he was able to see that. When I think of a butcher shop, I like to picture a store where there is a little bit of special customer service, like cheerfully butterflying a chicken.

                    They carry some really good duck sausage. Can't remember the maker (starts with a "C"). Even the chicken-fennel sausage is really good, and I usually avoid chicken sausage because it's not as flavorful as other types.

                    1. re: Atomica

                      Okay, that's the guy I've loved whenever the brothers aren't there. He's always been friendly and helpful, and took great care of me when I had a special lamb order about a year ago. I will have to go back just to see how it goes...

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  They must have thought you said "cow fat".

              2. re: farmersdaughter

                Bi-Rite Market
                Bi-Rite Creamery
                Sun Fat
                Drewes Brothers
                Valencia Farmer's Market
                Church Produce

                -----
                Bi-Rite Market
                3639 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Bi-Rite Creamery
                3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Sun Fat Seafood Co
                2687 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Drewes Brothers Meats
                1706 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                Valencia Farmer's Market
                1299 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Church Produce
                1798 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

              3. Welcome to the Mission!

                As far as produce, I subscribe to a CSA (Terra Firma), which I supplement with a weekly trip to Alemany Farmer's Market (a short drive, or a quick bus trip from 30th and Mission). If I need to pick up a couple of basic ingredients (like lemons), I wander down Mission or 24th until I see something good. I have not found a cheap produce place that consistently offers better quality, so I shop around.

                I buy meat and seafood from Bi-Rite--the prices match the quality, so I tend to buy on the day I'm going to cook something to be sure that there is little waste.

                1. I think a lot of us get so spoiled by the farmers markets that we're not happy with the produce stands.

                  19 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I think that's true. I buy limes, plantains and tomatillos at the stands, Casa Sanchez on 24th has a reliably good selection, but as pane said, not always the highest quality on each visit. But I can usually find what I want at Alemany Market and with some planning, that's how I supplement my CSA.

                    1. re: bernalgirl

                      I've heard that the ferry farmer's market is too touristy and overpriced. are there better farmer's markets elsewhere in the city? sorry for the basic question. :)

                      1. re: jenrcardenas

                        It's not that Ferry Plaza is touristy, it's just expensive. But still cheaper than Bi Rite. I can't imagine being able to afford all my groceries from either place.

                        Alemany Market on Saturdays is inexpensive and wonderful. Less organic though. There are lots of other farmer's markets from the small one in Noe Valley to Civic Center on Sundays and Serramonte Mall Thursdays and Saturdays.

                        The fruit stores are useful for items like limes and bananas that aren't grown locally. I like the one on Mission just north of 29th (used to be Milla's) and the one on the corner of 30th and Church (open 7 days, has Acme breads).

                        Canyon Market in Glen Park is similar to Bi Rite in its upscale offerings and prices. Parking's a little easier.

                        1. re: Windy

                          Another plug for the market at 30th/Church, perhaps not a destination but a very good little market if you're in the area. They have a surprisingly wide variety of items in that small space, including organic milk and my favorite whole wheat flour tortillas.

                          I haven't found Canyon Market's quality to match Bi-Rite's (I've nver found limp potatoes and squash at Bi-Rite), so if you're making a trip, I'd hit Bi-Rite first.

                          1. re: bernalgirl

                            Yeah!! We are moving into a flat on Church and 30th. I'm so glad to hear that everyone is so happy with that produce market.

                        2. re: jenrcardenas

                          Ferry Plaza is popular with tourists, but also with locals seeking the absolute best quality produce.

                          Alemany (Saturday) is huge, not touristy, and many of the locals are seeking value rather than perfection. SF Civic Center "Heart of the City" (Wednesday & Sunday) is similar though smaller.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            That is a fair assessment, although you won't find the "ethnic" produce at Ferry Plaza that you do at Alemany. If you want the perfect peach and lovely organic green garlic, FP is the place to go. If you want ong choy, chrysanthemum greens and coriander roots, you're going to Alemany or Heart of the City (which I'd visit more if I worked downtown). I find myself going back and forth between the Saturday markets over the course of a month.

                            1. re: bernalgirl

                              There's Italian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican "ethnic" produce at Ferry Plaza. Asian's an unfortunate lack.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Who has good Mexican/Latin American produce at Ferry Plaza? To the extent that produce of the Americas can be classified, of course. But I'm drawing a blank on where I've ever seen chayote, plantains, etc at Ferry Plaza.

                                And I wonder why there are no good vendors of excellent organic Asian produce at Ferry Plaza. Have people seen these options at any of the other "high end" farmers markets?

                                1. re: bernalgirl

                                  Catalán Family Farm. Relatively new addition, they were at the top of the waiting list when Fitzgerald's dropped out.

                                  http://www.chow.com/topics/400929

                                  There are also stellar fresh, dried, and smoked chiles at Tierra, and fresh masa at Primavera.

                                  I have yet to see a stand from an organic farm specializing in Asian produce.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Thank you, I'll check them out next time I'm there. Tomorrow's an Alemany day... and agreed about the chiles at Tierra, that and the Rancho Gordo beans and I'm halfway to heaven.

                                  2. re: bernalgirl

                                    You could also pick Steve (Rancho Gordo) Sando's brain when you're at the Ferry Plaza on a Saturday. He'd certainly know who had the best Mexican/Latin American produce and any other Mexican ingredients. He also sells good dried chilis himself.

                                    1. re: Atomica

                                      Rancho Gordo @ Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market

                                      -----
                                      Rancho Gordo
                                      1924 Yajome St, Napa, CA 94559

                                    2. re: bernalgirl

                                      There is a Vietnamese-owned organic farm that's at both Heart of the City and Alemany. I can't remember the name.

                                      1. re: Windy

                                        I know the one. I wonder if they're on the list for Ferry Plaza? It would round out the market a bit.

                                      2. re: bernalgirl

                                        Phan Farm is organic and has some nice-looking Asian specialty produce plus a lot of things other stands have. So far I've seen them only at the Tuesday market in Berkeley. Google finds a reference to them being at the SF Civic Center market (Wednesdays and Sundays).

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          I can confirm that they are there at the SF Civic Center market. Very nice lady there, always remembers me and asks me how I'm doing.

                                    3. re: bernalgirl

                                      Spent a good part of this morning at Alemany. Very good farmer's market. Very reasonably priced and lots of variety. Maybe I just have to get used to bay area produce, but I'm a foodie and there were a few things there that I'd never seen before. And we definitely couldn't get squash blossoms easily in Chicago! Let alone a great variety of delicious tamales we enjoyed for lunch. Thanks for the recommendation :)

                                      1. re: jenrcardenas

                                        Nah, you never get bored by Bay Area produce, especially in the summer.

                                        I read yesterday (while trying to find the name of the Vietnamese organic farm stand) that Alemany Market will celebrate its 60th anniversary August 4th. It was a post WWII project to bring affordable, healthy food to city residents.

                            2. not too far from the Mission area is Golden Produce on Church at Market across the street from Safeway. Extremely good quaility beats the heck out of Real Foods in my hood and half the price.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Lori SF

                                And if you travel a bit down Mission Street to the outer Mission (other side of 280), check out Manila Market for everything Asian, as well as very fresh and varied seafood.

                                1. re: Calvinist

                                  It's called Manila Oriental Market (aka MOM) and it's in the Excelsior district on Mission St. Here's the link:

                                  -----
                                  Manila Oriental Market
                                  4175 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                                  1. re: Calvinist

                                    At MOM last week. Broccoli @ $0.49/lb. Turned greenish yellow in 2 days.

                                    Has anyone tried the SF Produce terminal on Jerrold? True one often has to buy bulk, but some markets do retail, sort of. Universe often sells stuff by the pound. When in season, a case of broccoli ~$8. Lasts 2 weeks.

                                    Most shops at the terminal close before noon, if not earlier.

                                    1. re: الشره

                                      That's been my experience at MOM, too, the produce is about to be on its last legs when it gets there. I love having it so close -- saves the drive across town or to Daly City -- and the fish counter seems better than the produce (haven't actually bought there yet, it's been so packed when I've been shopping), but I only buy produce I plan to use that night or the next. In general that's a good way to shop, but with MOM it's essential.

                                      1. re: bernalgirl

                                        I think the produce at MOM is about as good as the produce at all the other markets in the area...very ripe. Use it quick and it'll be tasty. Great prices, though. Also, you can get your Asian and Mexican condiments. Check out the frozen aisle for veggie buns that you can steam for those days you really don't want to cook but need something savory. Great prices on meat, fish and tofu!

                                      2. re: الشره

                                        Universe is a good place to get exotic south east Asia veggies!

                                        1. re: intomeat

                                          Where is Universe?

                                          1. re: Atomica

                                            SF Produce terminal on Jerrold, between 101 & 280. On the left when facing 280. Big sign out front.

                                            http://www.sfproduce.org/merchants/me...

                                  2. Mission Market (Mission and 22nd) has good meat and fresh seafood.

                                    Lucca's on Valencia and 22nd is a wonderful italian deli--salami, prosciutto, cheeses, fresh pasta and sauce, etc. Best place for inexpensive but good olive oil and italian staples.

                                    Valencia Whole Foods on Valencia at 21st has a small but good quality (and expensive) selection of organic vegetables.

                                    Other then that, many of the produce stores on mission are a good bet, though the quality is not always consistent.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: shivani

                                      Lucca's prices are often the best. Their house-made fresh pasta, ravioli, and sauces are not to my taste (old-school Italian-American) but they have a great selection of dry pasta and Italian canned goods. You won't find Reggiano or quality olive oil cheaper except maybe at Costco or Trader Joe's.

                                      -----
                                      Lucca Ravioli
                                      1100 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Agreed about the ravioli and sauce. Some of their deli meats are excellent as well. They have an imported mortadella that is great in sandwiches (don't get the domestic) and a really nice boiled ham with rosemary in it that is not at all watery like a lot of deli ham. They get fresh mozzarella di bufala from Italy once or twice a week. And, they get foccacia in daily from Liguria Bakery in North Beach.

                                      2. re: shivani

                                        I agree that Lucca Ravioli on Valencia is great, but noone has mentioned another wonderful advantage that they have -- a FREE PARKING LOT. It's on Valencia, just south of the store.

                                      3. Speaking of small, local markets, the location that used to be Bleuss Meats (on Cortland near Mission) is about to re-open as another small market. Sorry, I didn't catch the name as I drove by yesterday am, but there is a sign referring to local owners and produce, IIRC....

                                        1. I too live in the Mission and only buy organic. Please try Rainbow Grocery. Rainbow and Bi-Rite are my neighborhood staples. Welcome to the 'hood.

                                          Rainbow Grocery
                                          www.rainbowgrocery.org

                                          1745 Folsom St
                                          San Francisco, CA 94103
                                          (415) 863-0620

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: gloryous

                                            another plug for rainbow grocery! I typically buy my non- fruit and veg foods there (they have a fantastic bulk section), and then buy all of my produce at the Alemany farmer's market or the place at 30th & church as it's the closest market to me.
                                            Also, Rainbow has a lovely cheese selection and I've found the employees to be very knowledgable. I'd recommend avoiding it on the weekends though as it's usually super busy.

                                            1. re: jcarlile

                                              I concur on their bulk and dry goods selections, as well as their cheese section. Rainbow also has a decent organic/biodynamic wine selection. But I find their produce section a constant disappointment.

                                            2. re: gloryous

                                              Note that Rainbow stocks no meat.

                                              -----
                                              Rainbow Grocery
                                              1745 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103