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Jun 2, 2008 08:41 PM

Union Square Farmers' Market on Saturday

I have somehow missed exploring Union Square so I thought I would visit the farmers' market on Saturday and wander around the area. I'm hoping B & R Artisan Breads are there-- we adore their bread.

Where would you recommend for Saturday lunch? I was considering Macchu Picchu. I'm planning on visting Capone's, Internacional and Reliable Market in additon to the farmers market.

I did searched the boards and made my list but I always want to get the latest word from the people I trust with my tastebuds.

We are taking a zipcar so lunch doesn't have to be right in Union-- just nearby.

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  1. If you like Mexican the Cantina La Mexicana (new venture by the folks behind Taqueria Mexicana next door) opened recently. I haven't been yet, but I am a fan of the Taqueria so I'm betting it's good. There's also pretty good Thai in the same area at Great Thai Chef. Across the street from the market is WuChon House, which I hear is very good Korean and sushi. There's also the Independent for upscale pub-style dining, and Sherman Cafe just up from the corner of Washington St and Somerville Ave for sandwiches and salads. So park the zipcar - no need to drive from the market to get good eats!

    1. YEAH -- I can't wait! I'll be there Saturday too. Usually it takes a bit to get this little market up and running but I'm hoping that the Hmong/Yang family stand is there, Stillman's, and B+R too.

      I think Machu Picchu would be a good call -- it's supposed to be HOT out and some nice grilled chicken washed down with a Pisco Sour could hit the spot. My other pick in the immediate nabe is La Cantina (formerly Tacqueria La Mexicana) I haven't been since the renovation, but if you like Mexican food, this is a good local choice.

      Very exciting indeed.

      3 Replies
      1. re: yumyum

        Thank you to both Dea and Yum yum!

        Isn't if funny how we can live in an area for so long and completely miss neighborhoods. I'm going to try to catch up on a number of places this summer.

        1. re: yumyum

          I'll be going to Machu Picchu this Friday, and looking forward to trying some of the menu suggestions made here on CH, but looking at I do not see any "grilled chicken" per say. What dish exactly do you recommend, or is it off the menu?

          1. re: tbiscaia

            If you go the main page of their site there is the following blurb about their new location across the street that specializes in the chicken:

            Machu Picchu is proud to announce our new location Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill at 25 Union Sq. in Somerville, were the Peruvian Rotisseire Chicken it's our Main Dish visit us to experience one of Peru's most famous dish "pollos a la Brasa" Reconized in peru as a" National Patrimony" for it's unique flavor, freshness and Aroma.
            For info of our new location call us @617-623-7972

        2. Did you end up going? I checked it out early and was thrilled to be there but kinda disappointed in the selection. I know it takes a while for this little market to get going, but the offerings seemed slim and spendy.

          Nevertheless, I picked up lettuce from two stalls, some ground pork sausage from Stillman's (he didn't have ground lamb, the primary reason I went at the opening bell), broccoli rabe from the Farmer Dad and a baguette from B + R. I took a big green salad to a dinner party made out of the greens and the rabe and sausage made a perfect dinner with toasted orechiette (trying to duplicate Rendezvous' dish). The baguette, great as always.

          I'm glad it's open, but we have to get going. Anyone else go?

          12 Replies
          1. re: yumyum

            I was there, too, but not until 11:15 or so, so I missed the broccoli rabe and most of the bread on offer from J & R. I did pick up a really tasty walnut prune whole wheat loaf, some arugula, a head of bok choy, and way more rhubarb than I had any right to purchase at Drumlin Farms. I ended up making (quite a lot) of rhubarb-ginger jam. I, too, was so excited for the farmers' market to open, and forgot about the slow start. I hope the Hmong farmers come soon! My favorite thing to do was to buy a new vegetable each week from them. I'm going to hit the City Hall Market in an hour... hoping for a broader selection there.

            1. re: Jeda

              Yeah -- I missed the Yangs too. I did the same thing .. bought some new funky green from them each week and tried it. When they get going their herbs are especially fine.

              When it really gets going, we'll have to coordinate a chow meet-up to say hi and perhaps have lunch. Of course, if you know the secret hand-signal you can identify hounds in any environment.

              1. re: yumyum

                That sounds incredibly fun! I don't know the hand signal, though. So we'll have to plan it out. I *almost* stopped by Bloc 11, but it was hot and I was getting grumpy. I hope the Yangs come back! My favorites from last year: red spinach/amaranth, and the prickly cucumber-like melons.

                1. re: yumyum

                  The Yangs were late coming last summer--well into July as I recall. I got some of the last of the local asparagus and some seedlings.

              2. re: yumyum

                Yes, we were there. We did get a ciabatta from B & R.

                (Why do folks name companies with initials? If he had named it Rhoads bread, we would all remember it. I finally decided to remember that it's the first two letters in Bread.)

                The market was great for early season, and we will be returning because Union Square has so much to offer. The market is only part of it. I spoke with the knife sharpening service and will be going back to have my knives done soon.

                We had lunch at the larger Macchu Picchu and enjoyed the new flavors. I adored the empanadas and should have ordered a couple more to go. We sat next to a man from Peru who helped us order and gave us some history of the food. It was wonderful. Next time, we want to try their grilled chicken which he highly recommended. I'll do a entry with photos later this week.

                We also explored Reliable Market and had a fine time with the gentleman at Capone's. The heat finally got to us, and we ended our visit with an iced coffee at Bloc 11 cafe.

                Jeda, your Rhubarb-ginger jam sounds wonderful. I'm a tart fruit and ginger lover. Copley may be the market you want to visit early in the season.

                I would imagine things will start to roll in any time now. In fact, when I finish this message, I'll go start one of the weekly market reports we were all contributing to last year. That was Chowhound alerting at its best.

                1. re: BostonZest

                  Oh yay. I'm glad you explored a bit. I love Reliable and Capone's.

                  I posted a while ago about the chicken at MP. I think it's very good if a little pricier than expected.

                  Great idea about the head's up thread .. I find it useful too.

                  1. re: BostonZest

                    I have so much jam! I meant to bring some to a BBQ yesterday, but the heat fried my brain, so it's now all in my fridge. It'll get eaten, and be especially tasty on the prune walnut bread.

                    I just (an hour ago) got strawberries at City Hall! Very exciting. They're not *quite* perfect, so they're going to get the sugar and balsamic maceration treatment.

                    And I'm excited about the secret handshake/Union Square Farmers Market meet-up, yumyum. I can't do it this Saturday, but next week perhaps?

                    1. re: Jeda

                      I'll be there this upcoming weekend but then away weekend after that ... but it will happen. There are hounds lurking everywhere.

                      Handshake: make a hound with ears up by putting your thumb against your third and fourth fingers, pointer and pinkie up in the air. Make a chewing motion with the hound's mouth. Just be subtle about it.

                      ETA: this chowhound signal was originally Slim's idea, I just think it works.

                      1. re: yumyum

                        LOL! I can only imagine people walking around the Union Square Farmers' Market on Saturdays holding up their hands and signing "chewing hounds" to anyone they pass in hopes of finding another 'Hound there. ;-)

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          So, it's the silent coyote, but eating? BRILLIANT. I love it. And I will totally be trolling the Union Square market making this ridiculous hand gesture on the 21st.

                          1. re: Jeda

                            I just might have to visit with a friend who lives nearby just to see this. ;-)

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              and I may have to bring a camera.

                2. Stopped by this past Sat (6/21) and bought the following:
                  -Garlic scapes
                  -Green garlic
                  -Red lettuce
                  -Rainbow Swiss chard
                  -B&R sourdough loaf
                  -Couple of small heirloom tomato plants

                  The Swiss chard and green garlic made a delicious Asian-flavored soup, while the lettuce provided a refreshing and cool base for Korean ssam (marinated beef, rice, with a dollop of kochijang - hot pepper paste - wrapped up in a lettuce leaf). I cut up and steamed the scapes until tender and we added some to each ssam, which added a subtle kick.

                  No Yangs yet.

                  PS There was a write-up of Precinct (former Toast space) in the Globe recently - sounds like decent pub grub. Also, has anyone tried the pizza place right outside the market (I think it's called Union Sq. Pizza)? At 10am, I saw several people indulging in huge slices. They looked like good, NYC-style slices but I refrained.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: digga

                    digga- per the pizza question, Union Sq Pizza is a meh minus for slices. Its crust is its worst feature, but the cheese and sauce aren't quite there either. There's a lot better pizza around. Curious though to give their falafel etc a shot. If it's not necessarily pizza you're after while @ the farmers' mkt, go next door to El Potro for papusas, or to Taqueria la Mexicana for tacos.

                  2. The Union Square Farmers Market is the reason I loathe leaving town for the weekend - and Reliable, Capones, and all the restaurants (plus the new boutique and comic book shop) make Union a great place to spend a couple hours.

                    I second all the lunch recommendations as well - WuChon is very decent Korean, although I haven't tried the sushi; Independent is tasty, and though it sometimes strikes me as a little overpriced I've had a lot of good experiences there lately - and I love their cocktails; and Machu Picchu and La Mexicana are both good. Bloc 11 makes a couple really good sandwiches (and a few misses) but takes forever. Sherman is my go-to for breakfast pastries, but makes a good lunch too. I am ashamed to say that I haven't tried the new Cantina location, the Machu Picchu Grill OR The Precinct yet!

                    I also can't wait for the Yang's booth to open. Until then, the green garlic and garlic scapes are keeping me entertained. Since I live in Union, I always have my eyes open for neighbors at the market, now I will have to look for Chowhound hand signs too!