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Sep 10, 2010 01:12 PM

Mountain View Farmers Market "Best in Bay Area"

Congratulations to this enterprise. The story in today's Mountain View _Voice,_ linked below, has more. This year MV's market, the fourth largest in California, came in second in popularity statewide and in the top five in the US, in a consumer survey by the American Farmland Trust.

These outdoor markets, operating in public places once a week or so, have become familiar in many Bay Area towns of late. MV's market, in its downtown, has grown steadily, like the nearby restaurant population. On a recent Sunday at the peak of local harvest, MV's market was maybe twice the size I remember from before it moved to the train station parking lot a few years back. It operates 9AM to 1PM Sundays and surfaces periodically on this board as a source of specialty foods.

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  1. Is this a commercial? A PSA?

    I don't think anything in MV is Best in the Bay...

    5 Replies
    1. re: Jumbo_Jack

      Um, it's local news. Maybe of particular interest to the various Bay Area CH contributors who've mentioned finding items at that market over the years. (I've no connection, other than as an occasional customer. I didn't vote in the survey.)

      Jumbo_Jack, if you have an opinion of that particular market, why not share it? (There's an unfortunate Bay Area history of SF and East Bay people belittling things in the South Bay -- more so, the less they know about it. Just as it's possible to rationalize away these, or any, survey results, though the same voting options were available to all the other farmer's markets and their customers.)

      That top-5 list for California (quoted below) contains some reputable markets. I'm not surprised at Davis's strong showing, though I've never seen it. (Davis not only has about the most respected agriculture school in the country but also is near the peak concentration of US produce production. Some 50% of US produce now comes from the Great Central Valley, up from 40% a few decades back.)

      1. re: Jumbo_Jack

        Well, Robert is of course right about the "highly gameable popularity contest" part. But it still is a great farmer's market, and I voted for it. I'll take a wild guess that Jumbo_Jack hasn't ever been to it. And all you folks who have had problems finding great peaches this summer most likely haven't been shopping there either (or at Andy's).

        Among its other culinary charms, Mountain View also has a great contender for best high-end cuisine in the Bay Area in Chez TJ, and two contenders for best Indian cuisine in Sakoon and the original Amber India.


        1. re: mdg

          Michael, I noticed your several recent praises of Chez TJ. As a longtime fan, I've recommended that place on the Internet for some 20 years (since before most Bay Area people used the 'net, though they could have done so starting in 1985 had they cared to). In the first few of those years, Chef TJ himself (protégé of Julia Child as I'm sure you know) was still alive and cooking, as cited on this Spring's thread on the restaurant (below). I also frequent many of the 90 (that's 90) -plus other eateries in that compact downtown (just returned to Sakoon last night; visit last weekend posted elsewhere here). From time to time over the years, comparing Chz TJ to high-end restaurants experienced in many other cities and countries, I believe it has vied for considerable prominence (which it hasn't always gotten) among Bay Area high-end kitchens. Chefs Trice (late 90s) and Kostow (recently) particularly stood out, in very different ways. However I think it will take time, and certainly several visits, to determine if this is also true, consistently, of chef Nishiyama. I ardently hope so!

          Chez TJ
          938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

          357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

          1. re: eatzalot

            My sister (the birthday girl) ate there when TJ was there, but hadn't been for ages. Our first visit was with Chef Kostow. Two visits a year tends to be our maximum for high-end places, since there are so many great restaurant choices here. With the second visit I'm a lot more confident about their consistent excellence.


            1. re: mdg

              Thanks and by the way, yours are among the reports here I read with interest and respect (unlike, say, comments by people who make sweeping, imperious pronouncements of a restaurant's eminence or decline, on the strength of one visit in three or four years, or even one visit total).

              -- Eatz (mens-et-manus, G, long ago)

      2. fascinating! this is a lot closer to me than san francisco so i may just try it before the glorious summer produce fades away.

        1. It's not a survey, just a highly gameable online popularity contest:

          "We had people who were gung-ho market fans, and as soon as they found out about the contest this year, they spread the word through e-mail and our Facebook page. We also brought computers to farmers markets to encourage people to vote, and let them vote on paper, which we'd input for them later."

          1. 1. Davis Farmers Market
            2. Mountain View Farmers Market
            3. San Francisco Farmers Market at Crocker Galleria
            4. Brentwood Farmers Market
            5. Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
            and no San Rafael, excuse me while I chortle.

            1. I like the MV farmer's market alot. It got great variety, quality and good price. I like the asian vegetables stand, the eggs lady, TLC ranch, frozen dumplings.

              It's my favorite one in the bay area, and I used to do almost all my weekly grocery shopping at that market when I lived down in the south bay. I do think it's better then the Ferry terminal building's market & Crocker Galleria.

              5 Replies
              1. re: gnomatic

                Ok. But to be fair Crocker Galleria is not going to make anyone's "Best of" list. I mean seriously - it's smallish and doesn't have a great selection.

                Ferry Terminal is fantastic... if you can afford it. Mostly it's for rich people who want to feel good about themselves and vendors who tell them their great people for buying locally. Viva la revolucion!

                I shop at Alemany (big selection, reasonable prices, lots of asian greens) but it's missing some key items (no good meat or fish stands, eh cheese, variety of organic stuff).

                I've actually heard great things about the Mountain View market. So even if it's a "rigged" ranking I could imagine it being true.

                Crocker Galleria
                360 Degree Gourmet Burrito, San Francisco, CA 94102

                1. re: boris_qd

                  Yeah, the inclusion of Crocker Galleria in the list is highly suspect.

                  My favorite market in SF is the one at Fort Mason on Sundays (Alemany is too far for me to trek to, though I hear good things about it). I like the variety & price at the Civic Center market, but not the sketchy neighborhood.
                  The ferry terminal market is fun to browse...but it's a bit too heavy on prepared foods, ready to eat (or travel) food stuff. Catering to the tourist crowds? And it's a madhouse anytime after 10 am.

                  1. re: boris_qd

                    I've had and seen some really excellent and unusual produce at the Ferry Plaza market, and I consider those things its strength (along with the chilaquiles and other prepared foods, as someone else said). The MV farmers market used to be my neighborhood market, and I love it - my absolute favorite are the organic Fuji apples from, I think, Palomino Farms on the north side. But I've never really had any fruit/veg surprises there.

                  2. re: gnomatic

                    mv market is probably my favorite in the bay area. largely because it's easy to get to, public transportation (caltrain and light rail) accessible, plenty of parking, a large number of vendors with variety, low prices (especially compared to the more popular markets like ferry plaza). the only thing it' missing is prepared food vendors, but i dont care too much about that because i go to farmers markets to get produce.

                    1. re: gnomatic

                      I agree with gnomatic - and our shopping lists are similar - I especially like the big Asian veggie vendor in the corner where the greens aren't pre-bunched and you can pick out just the tender shoots you prefer... although I find one must be tenacious to fend off the hungry hordes!

                      As I live on the edge of Silicon Valley, this market is not far from home. As a more general rule, I tend to go North to the market at the College of San Mateo, an all year market on Weds and Sat mornings.

                      College of San Mateo
                      1700 W Hillsdale Blvd, San Mateo, CA