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Best Farmer's Markets in SD County

Was wondering which Farmer's Markets are considered the "best" to try in San Diego. Heard great things about Hillcrest, was disappointed by Del Mar...any thoughts?

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  1. yep, DM is pretty lame. Hillcrest has always been my fave, but everyone's been raving about Little Italy these days - i haven't made it there yet.

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    1. "Best" is a subjective term :-) What you think is best might not turn someone elses crank.

      There are quite a few farmers markets in San Diego. In what part of town are you located and are you willing to travel to farmers markets outside of your local area. What kind of mix are you looking for in terms of vendors? More farm vendors vs. prepared food vendors vs. non-food/ancillary product vendors?

      The Hillcrest market on Sunday is usually pretty good. They've got a lot of vedors with a pretty diverse range of items, in both food and non-food items.

      The Wednesday market in OB, especially in the summer, is kind of a funky block party, but it usually has a good range of products. Parking can be difficult during normal circumstances, it's almost non-existant on Wednesday afternoon.

      The Little Italy farmers market on Saturday is the hot commodity right now, and not without reason. You want olive oil pressed by Italians? It's there. You want fresh uni and other seafood? It's there. You want bread from many of the local bakeries? Take you pick. Nice range of farms and produce vendors as well. Tomorrow is Saturday, why not go and check it out.

      A few people I know swear by the La Jolla farmers market, tho' other complain that there are too many non-food vendors.

      Here's the list of farmers markets available to you in SD - http://www.sdfarmbureau.org/BuyLocal/...

      14 Replies
      1. re: DiningDiva

        I used to be a regular at the La Jolla farmer's market. Can't stand it now -- WAY too many people selling non-food products. The school got greedy with all the money they make off all these un-farmers.

        1. re: bizzwriter

          Is there a good farmer's market near Carlsbad? I will be there in August and there is nothing better than a good fm with minimal non-food booths. If not a good fm, where is the best place to get produce and meat in Carlsbad?

          1. re: danieli10

            There is one in Vista that is pretty strong.

          2. re: bizzwriter

            can't really blame the school though, w/ all the state budget cuts. I think they're lucky to have the LJFM as an extra revenue source.

          3. re: DiningDiva

            Just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents worth behind the Little Italy Mercato.

            I think the best argument going for it is that it's strongest in the area where most Farmer's Markets are weak, and that is in the area of fresh (non-prepared) protein items. While there are other Farmer's Markets, (though not many), with stronger produce selections, LI's Mercato has a great blend of produce and protein vendors, along with spice vendors (a sea salt dealer and a spice dealer), prepared foods and even kitchen and decor items.

            It also has some particularly interesting specialty produce vendors, such as one focusing on a wide variety of sprouts, another on hydroponic greens, another selling hydroponically-grown basil that you continue growing hydroponically in the ktichen, and even a kiosk selling grapewood for smoking and potted grapevines for growing.

            All this and 2 hours of free parking, live music and fresh flowers, all right in the middle of a vibrant downtown community walking distance to many restaurants, shops, cafes, galleries, and ethnic markets and Mom & Pop provisioners for locally made breads, pastas, and sausages.

            ...and three cheers to Catt White for making it all happen!

            1. re: cgfan

              Wait...2 hours of free parking? Which lot, I seem to have missed that (tho" sometimes I just trolly down to the market)

              1. re: DiningDiva

                It's at the school just on the East end of the Mercato, the one cornered by the Bacci ball court and little quarter-amphetheater criss-cross from Our Lady of the Rosary.

                It's a fantastic program, and I noticed that they even were open for free parking during the recent Sicilian Festival! And if you just happen to exceed the 2 hours then you'll only pay a very nominal, I can't recall the specifics right now, fee!

                1. re: cgfan

                  Yeah, I was going to say that the Hillcrest Farmer's Market was preferable because the parking is free, but with free parking. . .Anyway, I like the Hillcrest Farmer's Market because its a bit more concentrated than the Mercato, and its close to Trader Joes (where I typically shop), and I prefer going to a Farmer's Market on Sundays rather than Saturdays.

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                  Hillcrest Farmer's Market
                  San Diego CA, San Diego, CA

                  1. re: jmtreg

                    And I think those are all very valid reasons for going to Hillcrest. I like both markets really well, but Saturday is shopping day for me :-)

                  2. re: cgfan

                    I know exactly where that is. Thank you. This will make my life easier to say the least

                2. re: cgfan

                  Yep, Little Italy is my favourite. Best selection of fun foodstuffs. Hillcrest is a close second, and there really aren't any that compare to those two, as best as I can tell. It often seems Hillcrest has a better produce selection, and Little Italy has the better protein selection. I mean, fresh sea urchin? How is that not awesome?!

                  1. re: Indirect Heat

                    Went to the market at Little Italy today - very cool how there were so many prepared foods. Really enjoyed this one salumi stand (can't remember the name) and a French/Belgian bakery/pastry stand. And we took advantage of the free parking mentioned above, so everything was great.

                    1. re: shouzen

                      Knight Salumi? Usually very good, though not always consistent.

                  2. re: cgfan

                    "All this and 2 hours of free parking, live music and fresh flowers, all right in the middle of a vibrant downtown community walking distance to many restaurants, shops, cafes, galleries, and ethnic markets and Mom & Pop provisioners for locally made breads, pastas, and sausages."

                    Exactly. Its in Little Italy. That alone makes it excellent.

                3. I also like Hillcrest for selection and variety. Haven't been to the one in Little Italy, but sounds like I need to check it out. La Jolla, agree more flea market selling cheap crafty jewelry and handbags rather than food. Del Mar works if I want to grab a few things for a picnic right there at the park and beach. Been to Cedros, BP, Scripps and Poway and they're small with the usual produce you can get at the other ones.
                  However Gingerlily Bakery is at Poway on Sat and Mira Mesa and Encinitas other days and she sells some pretty yummy cupcakes. 5 flavors: carrot, coconut, hummingbird, chocolate, red velvet and usually a seasonal choice like ginger or chocolate blood orange. All are delish.

                  1. Went to Little Italy today for the 1st time in awhile and they do seem to have a better selection than Hillcrest (though no Curtis Womach or Carlsbad Aquafarms). I prefer the Hillcrest layout a lot more though and Hillcrest feels a lot less crowded to me and much more easy to navigate.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Hillcrest and Little Italy are the two big ones with lots of interesting vendors. One advantage of La Jolla is it's good for toddlers (big park and playground right next to it, can eat as your kids run around) and in our case is a shorter drive by 15 minutes. Love the Thai chicken they do there. I guess if you go to farmer's markets for family fun, you can forgive all the non-food vendors at LJ. Otherwise definitely go to LI or Hillcrest. =)

                      1. Did anyone else see that Carlsbad Aquafarm had a booth at the Hillcrest Farmer's Market today? They were selling oysters and mussels. Now, given it is a hot day, and I didn't have any ice, I stayed away. But I'm totally stoked about it.

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                        Hillcrest Farmer's Market
                        San Diego CA, San Diego, CA

                        1. LI Farmers Market yielded quite a haul this morning. The hard part is making sure my eyes and ideas don't exceed my ability to eat everything before next Saturday.

                          But, the puprose of this post is to just say the Gourmet Tamale vendor has fresh squash blossoms at $4.99/#. They're small and tender. Good for soups, quesadillas and, well, tamales.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            I LOVE Gourmet Tamales! I always have their tamales in the freezer...always! I appreciate the high quality ingredients, amazing flavors, lard-free, giant serving deliciousness they sell. And such a good deal - each tamale is an entire meal! They have so many vegetarian tamales, too! And their salsa is really good, although a little pricier.

                          2. I agree Hillcrest is a great standby- large with plenty of food products (although non-food section does seem to grow slowly over the years). I appreciate the produce and prepared foods.

                            I have not yet been to Little ITaly - need to check it out, since it really is all about the food! How refreshing!

                            I don't mind Del Mar. It's small, but I appreciate that the non-food items are isolated from the food items. Solana beach is decent, too.

                            I have been trying to go to Mira Mesa market (where I live), but weekday markets are so much harder to get to. They have a decent produce section, and a GREAT prepared foods section. A LOT of dessert vendors (have to hold myself back in that category), plus some unique items like prepared Indian foods. Not necessarily worth a special trip, but worthwhile if you are in that part of town. Convenience is a huge draw :)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: alegramarcel

                              Great to hear someone mention Solana Beach Farmer's Market. While it's not the type that would draw patrons from other parts of the county, I find it to be the best and most consistent of the Farmer's Markets in North County. Although I'll drive all the way downtown for Little Italy's Farmer's Market nearly every week, Solana Beach has been my local standby for the weekends I can't make it to LI.

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                              Solana Beach Farmer's Market
                              S Cedros Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075