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Saturday SF Ferry Farmer's Market - What not to miss?

I am going on Saturday to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building hopefully by 11:00 am. Can any one recommend shops/stalls that should not be missed and what item(s) should be purchased at each?

We will be hungry so items to be eaten right away along with stuff to take with us. We are renting an apartment for 3 days so we have a kitchen. Not planning to do much cooking but some good in season fruits that are only locally available would be great. We are from So Cal so we do get stone fruit and grapes at our local farmer's market (not too great though).

I want to hit Acme and Cowgirl. What should I try to purchase at each?

Thanks again for your help!

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  1. Acme and Cowgirl Creamery both have outlets inside the Ferry Building Marketplace that are open 7 days a week, so I wouldn't make them a priority at the Farmers' Market per se. I'm not a big enough fan to keep abreast of what's hot at the moment, though squash blossoms are looking pretty good these days.

      1. re: sugartoof

        I think they are out of season.

        1. re: wally

          In or out of season, the date folks were not there last week.

          1. re: poot

            They don't come when the dates are out of season. It will probably be a 6 weeks or so.

      2. Don't miss the best sammich this side of Ittly at Roli Roti (the dizzy chicken truck). It's porchetta,pork covered in herbs and wrapped in more pork. On those rare occasions when it is not available,the roasted pig knuckle is a good substitute. The chicken is no slouch either.

        1. So many good things there, its hard to name them all, but I think Della Fattoria's pretty awesome, particularly their cinnamon twists and crispy chocolate chip cookies (and I usually like my chocolate chip cookies chewy, but these are yummy).

          1. In the front of the Ferry Building:
            Rancho Gordo's fabulous array of dried heirloom beans
            Hodo Soy Beanery's fresh tofu and tofu salads, "noodles," soy custard, tofu croquettes, etc.
            Swanton Berry Farm strawberries

            In the rear (main part of the farmers' market):

            Tierra Vegetables dried smoked chiles, chile jams
            Andante cheeses
            Della Fatoria breads
            Downtown Creamery pastries
            June Taylor jams
            Bella Viva dried fruits
            Marshall's Farm honey (from many Bay Area neighborhoods)

            Inside the Ferry Building:
            Far West Fungi great variety of mushrooms, both fresh and dried
            Cowgirl Creamery
            Frog Hollow Farm -- jams, conserves, excellent pastries (try the sweet risotto tart)

            4 Replies
            1. re: Nancy Berry

              Bella Viva and Marshall's are in the front of the building.

              1. re: wally

                You're right. I see those two at other markets and got confused.

              2. re: Nancy Berry

                Nancy offers a great list. The majority of these places have samples so you can decide for yourself if the recs are good.

                Tierra - if they have the dried smoked onions, they are pricy but WONDERFUL

                Andante - much better than Cowgiril, IMO. If they have the figaro, cheese wrapped in fig leaves, it is one of their best. Whatever cheese they feel is best that week.

                Downtown Creamery Bakery - I love their como bread, especially this time of year. The yeasty bread stands up great to juicy summer tomatoes. I liked their gallettes and turnovers a lot.

                June Taylor - Samples of all their jams. They excel at the bing cherry. I also like some of the apricot jams a lot. No samples, but the bottled syrups are great.

                Marshall's farm - The pumpkin blossom honey is the best and different from any honey I've tried. It is also nice to get different types and colors. The wild, wild, west wildflower is one of the darkest and has a very assertive flavor. The star thistle is a lovely light honey.

                Cowgirl - There is a recent favorable post on the SF Drakes washed rind cheese

                Rancho Gordo - My favorite beans to date have been the black and white vacaro. Lots of people like the hominy, but I haven't tried that yet.

                Saint Benoit Yogurt is lovely. They have samples and I like the lemon alot

                Sciabica & Sons - I love their olive oil. It may be too early for the lovely peppery green early season oil They have a nice little sampler pack of their oils. Although I usually despise flavored olive oils, theirs is great. They also have a sampler pack of these. My favorites are the lemon and rosemary oils. Great cookbooks two by the mother. Knoll has a great variety of figs, but sciabica's are half the price and twice as good. They might be sold out by time you get there though. The figs sell out early

                Bates and Schmidt - They make a lovely balsamic apple vinegar

                Bodega & Yerba Santa make wonderful goat cheese and an exquisite caramel sauce from the goat milk.

                The Peach Farm has outstanding melons, especially the ogen which will perfume your entire apartment.

                White Crane has great herbs and 'the mix'. If you think you might make a salad at home ask for this ... and you have to ask. Very worth the $$$$

                Hamada is a very good fruit vendor and has occasionaly some sort of fig with the word violet.

                Massa organics has good organic rice

                Spring Hill has some nice quark. I like the lemon and some of the seasonal flavors.

                My favorite prepared food vendor is Hayes Street Grill. Love the soft shell crab in season, otherwise this time of year the BLT is outstanding. In the morning they look around for the best tomato vendor and use those. The bacon is Hobbs and the sourdough is great.

                Blue bottle coffe ... the African one is my favorite if they have it

                Boulette's Larder I like quite a lot. However, Saturday when the market is mobbed is when they don't offer as much.

                1. re: rworange

                  I like the Spring Hill quark too, just the regular that just says 'quark', on crackers or apples, or Acme epi....the lemon is too sweet for my taste.

              3. Acme: Levain, olive levain (with green olives), epi, fougasse
                Fatted Calf Charcuterie (usu. along the south end of the market): bacon, saucisson sec, merguez, bacon, ciccioli, bacon
                June Taylor preserves, conserves: whatever your fruit of choice, it will be beautifully rendered into a spreadable form that will bring glory to a slice of Acme levain toast


                1. If you like figs, Knoll whose name is actually something like Tairwa has wonderful figs and they are just coming into season. In the back right outside the door.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: wally

                    If you are just going for fruits and veggies, many of the same vendors sell their wares for much less at the Alameny Market.

                    1. re: SunsetKid

                      knoll figs are not "just fruit". I know what is available at Alemany. The poster is going to Ferry Plaza.

                    2. re: wally

                      Tairwa' is just a made up name which means nothing but is indended to invoke the notion of Terroir, according to Knoll Farms website.

                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                        Yes, but it is the name on the sign which would help someone looking for them.

                    3. What/Where is the Alameny Market?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: dhong140

                        Alemany Market is the grandaddy of the San Francisco green markets, and it's in the southern part of the city at 100 Alemany. It's been around a long time (started on Market St. in the 40's) and is known for a more ethnic selection of oddball items then the other markets.

                        1. re: sugartoof


                          Alemany Farmers' Market
                          100 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94110

                          Capay Organic - consolidated in Ferry Bldg #9
                          1 Ferry, Bldg San Francisco, CA

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            It's almost as old as me. History here:


                            What's "oddball" to you may be standard fare to others.

                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                              Link doesn't work for me. Should I suspect Terry Childs?

                              1. re: Xiao Yang

                                This link should (might?) work..


                                and if you take the trailing period off of Xiao Yang's link, it too will work.

                          2. I still dream of the plate of Chilaques I had at the Farmer's Market. I could have sworn the stand was called "primavera" but that makes no sense. There is a smoked salmon stand nearby with absolutely delicious looking sandwiches.

                            There is a coffee stand on the far end (south, I guess?) that everyone waits in line for. I thought the coffee was fine...nothing special ... and the wait is interminable.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: lisette

                              Whether it makes sense or not you are correct as grayelf found.

                              1. re: wolfe

                                She's correct about the coffee, too, IMHO

                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                  Not sure on my ordinals but the lineups for coffee of any kind have been pretty insane on our four visits. I can take or leave Peet's but if you're going to brave a lineup, find out which of the two Blue Bottle stands does Gibraltars and get one. My favourite coffee beverage ever, and native to San Francisco I understand. We go to the Blue Bottle in Hayes Valley for our fix but I'm looking forward to trying out the Mint Plaza outpost as well. Is it November yet?

                                  Blue Bottle Coffee Kiosk
                                  315 Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                  1. re: grayelf

                                    My point was that that if the OP hasn't bought into New Age coffee roasts, Blue Bottle coffee might be disappointing. At Peet's, at least, you can be sure your coffee will taste like coffee.

                                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                                      I really liked Peets Malahwi blend. I also really liked the last cup I had at Blue Bottle, which had some subtle spice kick to it. I think their quality can change according to the shift in beans they use, and what kind of roast they're playing with. I share some of your annoyances with these trendy coffees, but I think it might be a personal taste thing. I mean, it's not the ghost of Melvinas Coffee past, but they turn out coffee at least as good as Gimme Coffee in NY, which you liked.

                                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                                        Fair point well made, X_Y. I am so NOT a coffee expert! Rather a dilettante, actually, as I don't drink regular coffee except when I go out for breakfast but that Gibraltar really blew me away. Lucky for me, my second favourite coffee beverage is a cappuccino at 49th Parallel here in Vancouver, made with their Epic blend, which has a slightly chocolatey flavour.

                                2. re: lisette

                                  It is indeed called Primavera and the chilaquiles rock. I have waited in line almost an hour for them and its worth it (especialy if you have a donut muffin from the downtown baker and creamery to tide you over). Get there early as they sell out of items fast and get a yummy agua fresca also (the ones with cucumber are particularly refreshing).

                                3. Kashiwase Farms for stone fruit (in front of the ferry building, south side).

                                  I typically sample all the fruit stalls on saturday (front and back) and they are invariably my favorite for stone fruit. Fantastic nectarines, plums, peaches. The generally have a dozen varieties or so and all can be sampled. August/September is great, b/c they will have a lot of neat plum varieties available. Not all varieties will be great on a given week, but you'll usually find 2-4 "winners" to load up on until the next Saturday.


                                  1. breakfast at primavera, terrines from fatted calf. that's a given.

                                    1. Mostly repeating what others have said and in no particular order...

                                      - Check out Della Fattoria instead of Acme. Acme's fine, but their bread is easily found anywhere in the area.
                                      - Mexican breakfast at Primavera is almost a can't miss.
                                      - Knoll's figs are great, but it's still very early in their season and it's not certain that any will be left by 11. The Tairwa thing is their answer to the revised organic definitions that were influenced by agribusiness interests that they preferred to opt out of.
                                      - White Crane is ultra expensive, but their herbs and other greens are delicious for a special occasion.
                                      - Rancho Gordo beans are my all time favorites. Don't be put off by the $5 per pound pricing. It's worth it.
                                      - The two Blue Bottle kiosks don't have the same coffee, at least for the espresso drinks. Great stuff, at either kiosk. Make sure you go there, not to the more pedestrian Peets, a fine enough place in another context.
                                      - I'm not a huge fan of Kashiwase peaches, though they have a good variety and you can get lucky on a given day. Just taste at the various vendors and get whatever peaches taste best. It varies week to week. Blossom Bluff is often good. So is Balakian (sp.?), who also has good grapes. There's a place in front that's usually good, at the south end. I can't remember the name.
                                      - There's another place for grapes, but I haven't seen them this year, yet. They're usually in the back and don't sell anything else. Their grapes are the best there, as far as I'm concerned.
                                      - For greens and such, Star Route has good stuff, as do some others.
                                      - Inside, Prather meats are the greatest and they raise 'em healthily. Ask them about it.
                                      - Massa brown rice really does taste better than other brown rice.
                                      - Apples are starting to appear and DeVoto's heirloom apples are interesting and distinctive. It's early, though, so if they're even there, the selection will be limited.
                                      - Bernard for citrus and avocados at the north end in front is terrific, but they're from down your way and you may well see them elsewhere. That said, I haven't really liked anyone's Valencia's anywhere this year. Not acidic enough, for some reason.
                                      - Lucero's strawberries are the best I've ever eaten when they're at their best, but nobody's strawberries are always at their best. Besides, strawberries this year are really expensive. They have good summer squashes, too.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: maigre

                                        Some great advice here, but while I may be the only one who feels this way, I am *not* a fan of Mexican breakfast (including the chilaquiles, which aren't always available) at Primavera, particularly for someone coming from SoCal where really good chilaquiles are more readily available than up here. That said, it is probably as good as any of the other breakfasty options, but a little lowered expectation is probably good before waiting in that line...\

                                        If it were me, I'd skip breakfast options altogether and follow little big al's recommendation above and get the porchetta sandwhich at Roli Roti. That's a don't miss, IMO.

                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                          As a huge Mexican fan, I would agree. If you've had a lot of chilaquiles in your life, I wouldn't bother. It's a nice, fresh, filling variation on a classic. I think those breakfast soups or whatever they are at Out the Door are nothing short of amazing and a better bet.

                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            Yes, but if they have the rock shrimp tostatas, or any tostata ftm, get them! And the pozoles not bad either!

                                        2. We just got back and here is what we enjoyed:

                                          - Pork sandwich at Roli Roti. Yummy sandwich! The line was long and the the guy behind the counter was painfully slow. Then again you can't hurry and artist at his work. I wouldn't recommend the potatoes.

                                          - Figaro cheese at Andante - The cheese was too fragrant for my taste. The fig leaf give off a sweet smell that over powers the cheese.

                                          - Levain at Acme

                                          - The best figs ever!

                                          - Some great blackberries and heirloom tomatoes.

                                          - The coffee lines every where are ridiculous.

                                          - FYI - Hog Island happy hour is only on Monday and Thursday. We got there too early on Monday for happy hour and spent $30 on a dozen oysters! At happy hour only the Kumos are $1.25. The rest are reg price.

                                          Thanks everyone for your help. Tomorrow I go on a diet!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: dhong140

                                            Figs are in season right now. $5 a pound compared with $19 a pound in NYC.
                                            I love the smoked fish sandwiches at the rear of the building. So good!
                                            Scones from Out the Door is also a little known treat. They serve it with blueberry compote
                                            Candycots, if they are in season. Sweetest apricots ever!