Best Seattle farmers market?
- sammyw Nov 6, 2008 08:38 PM
My hubby & I just moved to downtown Seattle & are looking for the best farmers market. Obviously, Pike Place, but I've seen so many signs for others (Fremont, Ballard, etc) which is the best?
Fremont isn't a 'farmers market' as much as it is a European style street fair. Lots of great crafts and a few vegetable/fruit and flower vendors. Several good food booths too!
During the winter, you've pretty much got Ballard and West Seattle on Sundays and University District on Saturdays. All three are fabulous markets. Ballard in particular has a great mix of food and crafts (sweaters, knit hats, jewelry, etc) and is probably nice and close to you in downtown (one bus to get there if that's how you travel).
Personally, we end up at both the U-district on Saturdays and Ballard on Sundays as there are some different vendors at each. I think Ballard is probably the best, simply because it is laid out pretty well and is usually easy to navigate. Although I've enjoyed my times at West Seattle, it has always felt a bit too confined to me, although I'm not sure I have a good reason for this thinking. Just an impression. You really can't go wrong with any of them though.
www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org is the website for most of the markets (though not Ballard) and www.fremontmarket.com has links for the rest of the markets (including Ballard). During the summer, you'll have markets EVERYWHERE and can pick and choose (or go to all of them since they all have their own charm).
It depends a little on whether you're looking for farmers or craftspeople. Obviously the Market downtown has both, but parking is a real bear down there and I avoid the place in the summer because it's so crowded with tourists.. I believe the U District market is the largest besides Pike Place. Lots of farmers and artisan food makers and ;provisioners(eggs, cheese, seafood, baked goods, fresh pasta, jams, cider, wild mushrooms, honey, etc). Practically no crafts. Of course, at Pike Place you have your high stalls where you can get nonlocally grown items all year, which you pretty much can't do at U District. The U district one is also a block away from University Seafood and Poultry, one of the two top fishmongers in Seattle, in my opinion. Parking is also a problem there, but in my mind, not nearly as bad as at the Market downtown. I can almost always get a spot within a couple of blocks. There is also good bus service from Downtown to the U District. Of course, during the winter,, your best choice for produce of practically any kind would be the Market downtown.
For my vegetables, fruit, herbs, and sometimes seafood I head to Ballard on Sundays. It is also a great places to have a meal made up of offerings from vendors and food stands or buy flowers.
I like the Ballard Market best--to me, it just has the nicest atmosphere/vibe as well as great stalls-but a lot of the same vendors do both the U District on Saturday then Ballard on Sunday, so there might not be that much difference. Though I don't think the U District market has Wilson Fish, which has the best, freshest salmon I've ever had (in season--right now I think they mainly have smoked or frozen).
Here are the websites for the 2 groups that run the 11 markets around town:
The Pike Place Market isn't really a farmer's market anymore. It used to be that the produce stalls did indeed grow their own food, but when Seatac expanded for the 3rd runway they bought the last parcel of farmland being used to grown market produce (for Frank's). There are day stalls and those tents on the cobblestones that are farmers but the majority of the produce at the market is not farmer grown.
I've got to put a plug in for West Seattle. First off, I know I am so biased living only two blocks from the market. However, I feel like in comparison to some of the other markets, West Seattle has such a good variety of produce, bakery items, fish, meats, flowers, etc... that's it's hard not to find something no matter what your budget/needs. It is a year round market. You have a definite community presence both at the market and very near to it. Plus, we have all the shops, bakeries, etc you could want within walking distance. Easily made a day trip! My second favorite neighborhood market would have to be Ballard for similar reasons.
Hands down: Ballard.
They have such a huge selection of vendors. There are so many local cheese makers, local ice cream, local meat and eggs, so many veggie vendors - I love it. They also have great street food options: crepes, soup, pizza baked right there in a portable brick oven, and my favorite: veggie quesadillas made with market veggies.
I think the street they set up on is beautiful - especially in autumn when the leaves change color.