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Mid-Penninsula groceries, farmer's mkts, etc

Temporory resident looking for good neighborhood groceries, farmer's markets, etc. Will be saying about 4 months spring into early fall, it looks like. Not sure where we'll be based, maybe Mtn View but will be looking for suppliers up to the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area. Convenience and pleasant staff a real plus, as well as resonable pricing.

Let me know where you find the goods, the bargains and the helpful attitudes.

I like to support local farmers and businesses.

Can you Bay Area hounds help out a Central Coaster? Many many thanks.

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  1. Mountain View Farmers' Market is every Sunday, from 9 to 1 in the Caltrain parking lot, 600 W. Evelyn.


    1. I'll echo the Mountain View Farmers Market recommendation - it is probably the largest on the peninsula. One of the vendors I like best is the Asian veggie stand in the Northeast corner - they sell all of their greens, etc. in bulk rather than rubber banded into bunches. This way you can pick out just the most succulent pieces you want... It's kind of a crazy scene but they have very nice fresh greens, etc.

      Also, among the prepared foods, there is a Chinese dumpling stand - they sell frozen dumplings of many types. Talking with Ming who was staffing the booth today, we asked if he had a list of all the types they make - he gave us a sheet that lists 25 types including some that can be preordered. Their business is actually located in Fremont: OFS Food & Services, 510-226-1199, 3281 Seldon Ct., Fremont CA 94539. Ming says they are open every day but Monday from around 8:30 am to 6:00.

      For an interesting grocery/prepared food place: check out Rose International Market - all sorts of good things including kebabs grilled to order over mesquite. Now that the weather is starting to improve, this is a great place to get some good grilled food and eat at one of their outdoor tables.

      Rose International Market
      1060 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94040

      OFS Food and Services
      3281 Seldon Ct, Fremont, CA 94539

      1. During the off season, we do the Sunnyvale market because Saturday is the only day we can go. It is OK, not great. Good tofu, and sometimes good deals on veggies. Palo Alto has two markets, but I have only been to Saturday, again limited but a few food vendors.

        For produce stand places try Sigona's (RWC has more and you can get a bunch of coupons on their website, but there is also one at the Stanford mall), and Milk Pail in Mountain View can have fantastic deals. They don't always mark the origin if their produce, but often do. Milk Pail can be a zoo, but check out the well priced cheeses in the back.

        For 4 months you could do a CSA - Two Small Farms I think has some shares left and the produce quality is fantastic. I think the pricing is good too. (www.twosmalfarms.com


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

        Milk Pail Market
        2585 California St, Mountain View, CA

        Sigona's Farmers Market
        2345 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City, CA

        2 Replies
        1. re: jsaimd

          Sigona's for sure. Very friendly, family run place with top quality items. There is a little more to it than a produce stand though. It's a small place but they have a full array of food items, cheeses, meats, prepared items, frozen stuff, olive oils, etc.

          Also, Roberts Markets in Portola Valley and Woodside are good.

          Bianchini's Menlo Park on Alpine and the new store in San Carlos are good stores as well for all kinds of groceries and deli (note: San Carlos location opens on 4/29 and doesn't sell alcohol).

          Roberts Market
          3015 Woodside Rd, Woodside, CA

          Roberts Market
          4420 Alpine Rd, Portola Valley, CA

          Bianchini's Market
          3130 Alpine Rd, Portola Valley, CA

          1. re: Shane Greenwood

            Sigona's occasionally has really good specials on cheese -- I still fondly remember the great La Tur pig out from a couple of Decembers ago. Piazza's also has a good cheese selection. At least one visit to Dittmer's (German butcher) is required if you live in the area.

            There's a variety of ethnic markets in the area -- when I visit my sister who lives in Palo Alto just over the Mountain View city limit, I try to fit in a stop at Crossroads World Market, which has an eclectic selection of mostly Eastern European and Middle Eastern foods.

            Rworange (who else) has done quite a bit of exploration of the markets in that area -- here's a cool sounding Brazilian market in San Mateo: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/418153

            Dittmer's Gourmet Meats
            400 San Antonio Rd Ste 4, Mountain View, CA 94040

            Crossroads World Market
            720 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto, CA

            Piazza's Fine Foods
            3922 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303

        2. I second the recs for Rose Int'l Market (Persian) & Sigona's. We also have Trader Joe's in the area with one in Menlo Park & one located in the San Antonio shopping center in Mtn. View (3rd is under construction at Town & Country in Palo Alto).

          Lastly, DH & I drop by sometimes at the farmer's market on California Street in Palo Alto on Sundays (9-1) after a Dish walk. Love the Bay Bread pastries.

          1. Another vote in favor of the Mountain View farmers market. Lots of good stuff there.

            I think the Los Altos farmers market opens the first Thursday in May. It's on 2nd St from 4-8 every Thursday. It's not on a par with the Mountain View market, but it's pretty nice, has some decent hot food and is a strong weekday afternoon alternative to the weekend markets, if that's convenient.

            1. Hi toodie!

              The area you describe is south peninsula, just for your info. Or silicon valley (the epicenter of silicon valley was the fairchild factory in MV). Mid peninsula is north of the towns you mention.

              There's a limited number of local groceries. Renting shop space is expensive. There are more whole foods than you can trip over, and a couple of premium grocery store chains (Drager's, Andronicos, Molly Stone's) which might source more locally than WF, or not. Certainly friendly, but not low prices. But you didn't ask for premium grocieries.

              But if you're up for local *markets*, not local produce, and you care about price, you have to check out the mexican markets which start in menlo park and go up through redwood city. Most convienient is Mi Rancho on Willow Road. Their selection is, charitably, past its prime but the prices are great. Mi Hacienda in a few blocks away on Menalto, a cleaner store with better quality, and higher prices. For example, chunk lite tuna in water is .89 @ mi rancho, @1.09 at safeway. Mexicans like low prices. In Redwood City there's a corner, 5th and Middlefields, and there are a thousand small markets within a 10 block radius. Chavez Market is the larger grocery chain that caters to the Latinos and has swallowed up a few independants, but is still not that many stores. Mexicans love their grilled meats, so the butchers sections of these shops are first-rate, although they have Mexican cuts that take getting used to. If your Spanish is good, you can probably get meat cut however you want - these places seem to cut meat in house.

              I go back and forth whether I think places like that are good ecology. If they can source cheap, they probably spent fewer resources, right? Certainly no kiwis flown in. But no organic, no real knowledge of provenence.

              There are asian groceries as well. The two in mountain view, the Ranch 99 chain, there's one in San Mateo I've gone to before.

              I bet there's a wide variety starting in Sunnyvale and going south, I'm just not familiar with that area.

              For small stores: The Milk Pail as mentioned, it's a good little market with a focus on local fresh produce. Country Sun on California Ave in PA. JJF in PA (good butcher). There's an interesting looking stand in Redwood City I've always wanted to check out on Middlefield near the Costco.

              CSAs are huge here. No store space, reliable income for the farms. I would say half the people I know get CSA boxes. Search for that.

              Everyone ends up with their favorite farmer's market. These markets are roughly organized where the train stations (caltrain) are. Each of them has their own strength. One reason I prefer MV is it's year round, and they have good bread. My sister prefers California Ave.

              A lot of people do high-volume, non-perishable shopping at Costco, we have a fair number of them (Redwood City and Mountain View), then do their bread & veggies at the smaller markets. Arguably, for commodities, Costco is hugely efficient thus eco as well, and they treat their workers OK.

              4 Replies
              1. re: bbulkow

                The stand across from the RWC Costco is Sigona's.

                1. re: jsaimd

                  Just to reiterate, Sigona's is more than a stand. It looks like mainly a produce stand from the road because of the layout, but there is a whole market behind all that produce. It's small but has a lot more than a typical produce stand.

                  1. re: Shane Greenwood

                    And the RWC one has a lot more than the Stanford one. Sigona's also has a nice selection of chocolate, although the selection varies throughout the year. Good bulk food and good dried fruit. Prices for those items I think are reasonable.

                2. re: bbulkow

                  Note: The Redwood City Costco store is closed (as of April 12th I believe). It will be torn down, rebuilt complete with a gas station - estimated reopening: November

                  So the closest one is Mountain View.

                  1000 N Rengstorff Ave, Mountain View, CA

                3. 4/27 thank you all for your great replies. You are great.

                  To clarify, my husband will be at Stanford for treatment as an inpatient for 6 weeks then for 100 days as an outpatient. Great as some of the recs sound, we may not be able to take advantage of them (prepared foods or cheese) He will be on a minimized-biotics diet, with strict cooking proceedures. No raw or undercooked foods, no takeout, no restaurant food. I'll be his 24/7 lackey/chauffeur/cook/executive assistant/maid and water-boiler. But I get a fancy name: GATEKEEPER. Maybe I should change my chowhound monniker... : -)

                  I hope to do a bit of chow sniffen myself and will be glad to verify these leads. I do love latin markets, and long-cooked meats will be one of our mainstays. That and "the frozen food aisle at Trader Joe's", as the social worker says.

                  Re:Too Small, do they deliver somehwere nearby?

                  It's going to be a challenge, but armed with your info, I feel less intimidated about finding good chow staples for us. I'll probably pop up with more questions as we go along. We should be there the majority of the summer. It might even be fun to meet some of you. You are a great bunch of food lovers.

                  Thanks. Again.and thanks to the hound who put together the printable list...

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: toodie jane

                    Please do sign up for the Silicon Valley chowdown group,
                    This covers the Peninsula and South Bay. Also, i just sent you an email.

                    1. re: toodie jane

                      You may like a trip to Webb Ranch Farms. It's close to the hospital and they have u-pick and fresh corn in the summer. My favorite produce is Sigona's and if you sign-up for their e-mail, you get great coupons. I even got a tour with tastings of their best in season fruit at the Redwood City store. They have great balsamic vinegars and olive oils too. They are building a Trader Joe's at Town and Country, (hopefully Kara's cupcakes are on your list) but it may not be open in time for your stay. There's also a Sur La Table if you need any equipment.

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        As it happens there is a Two Small Farms pick-up site right across from the hospital, and several on the other side of campus. I think half of Palo Alto gets their veggies from a CSA!

                        1. re: toodie jane

                          Here's the site for California Farmers Markets.You can search by city or county or region.

                          San Mateo County would be your first choice, then Santa Clara. Looking at the list for Santa Clara, there is a farmers market on Wednesday at Stanford. Saturday is the downtown Palo Alto Farmers market which is right off University Ave

                          I've read the next generation has taken over at Webb Ranch and has expanded the produce stand. As mentioned it is near Stanford

                          Milk Pail in Mountain View is probably your best bet for good affordable produce. It has a Berkeley Bowl / Moneterrey Market vibe. If you ever have a chance to do any traveling in all of this, those East Bay markets are worth checking out.

                          Maybe if you get a chance to do a little food shopping for yourself, in mid-June through the first week of July, stop by the CJ Olson farmstand for bing cherries, blenheim apricots and Santa Rosa plums. I know you are from an area with an embarrasement of riches in that type of fruit but still, these are the best I've ever had. Not cheap though but worth a splurge.

                          Again, don't know if you can do much driving at all, but a ride on 92 to Half Moon Bay is nice and there are some nice farmstands on the edge of town. Nothing organic or fancy, but a nice relatively near-by getaway.

                          1. re: rworange

                            thanks for the link to Olsen cherries. I snooped around the site and it looks good. My family has roots on the periphery of the old orchards. I cut cots as a teenager in Almaden, my great Aunt Clara Sculte was an orchardist in Campbell and Coyote (San Martin-Gilroy area) in the 1920-40's and my uncle Bill ran Day & Young fruit packers in Santa Clara from the 50's to the 70's. Fruit runs in my veins! Many a summer day spent ransacking cherry trees looking for 'doubles' .

                            It's good to know there are still places like this left with connections to the older generations. I'll visit it asap.

                            1. re: toodie jane

                              Debrah Olson and her brothers are really cool There is really just a token orchard in that area today. When I moved to that area a few decades back that road was almost all lined with cherry and apricot trees.

                              The Olson cherry stand almost went down a few years back, but Debra revitalized it by expanding the inventory and making it a year round stand by buying top quality from all over the area once the cherries in the Olson orchards are done.

                              When they are picking their own cherries there are still workers in the back of the store pulling cherries from the buckets and hand grading them. They have a tour of the orchard I think during the weekend they hold their cherry festival.

                              1. re: rworange

                                They evidently will have tours every Saturday during May. Great way for kids to learn about The Valley Of Heart's Delight.

                                Thanks for tip--greatly appreciated.