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ny foodie moving to peninsula. looking for best food events big or small... need shopping sugestions.

I am used to going to one store for fish, one for meat, one for produce etc... I am looking for the best markets to shop in and also for the best food events in st and the surrounding area.

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  1. where in the peninsula?
    Lots of farmer's markets in the area (Mountain View is really good as are a few others)
    Meat - Schaub's and Dittmer's in Palo Alto and Mountain View

    1. Sigona's produce is right next to Schaub's. I also like the Palo Alto Farmer's market on Sat. mornings. Draegar's markets in Los Altos and Menlo Park and San Mateo for deli, bakery, etc. Add Olson's Cherry Orchard to your list during cherry and stone fruit season.

      C J Olson Cherries
      348 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

      Draeger's Supermarket
      1010 University Dr, Menlo Park, CA 94025

      Schaub's Meat Fish & Poultry
      395 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304

      Sigona's Farmers Market
      399 Stanford Shopping Ctr, Palo Alto, CA

      1. I think Draeger's has the best fish and meat in the San Mateo area. I also really like the farmer's market at College of San Mateo (aka CSM) on Saturdays.

        Other threads you may find helpful below.






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

        1. Another vote for the Draeger's chain, the small independent upscale grocers. Los Altos, Menlo Park, and San Mateo which is the newest and resembles a cathedral inside.

          Sigona's Produce (which replaced the Monterey Market annex if I recall) and Schaub's are good; regrettably, the Stanford Shopping Center, a hub for gastronomic ingredients in the 1990s, is only a shadow of what it was. Oakville Grocery went out of business there; the Palo Alto Coffee Roasting Company (PACRC), Teri Hope's firm (her family also grows coffee beans) and something of a training ground for roasters all around the area, was elbowed out of the Center a few years back. The corporate mall owners whom Stanford University sold it to (a few years before that) never valued the draw of the specialty dealers in the "food court" and publicly expressed a preference instead for brands with more "national" recognition like Starbuck's (over PACRC, a merely vastly better independent and local roaster and importer). Teri Hope's other location remains (Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Co.) but that's away from the Peninsula.

          Not sure what food events you have in mind, but some large events, especially large wine tasting functions, are public (and advertised in newspapers and online). SF itself serves as a crossroads for the California wine industry and hosts large trade tastings open to public, often themed around specific grape varieties. Search this and the Wine board for past examples. Some smaller events are organized by trade groups and educational organizations including Slow Food. (The American Institute of Wine and Food, alas, no longer has the local presence it did in Julia Child's time.)

          1. Food Event: May 7th is the 2nd Annual No Bull BBQ Cook Off in Morgan Hill. Over 50 BBQ teams from California and adjoining states will be on hand to compete and sell samples to the public.

            The inaugural event last year was a big success from the competitors' pov, but most ran out of meat due to the large crowd. I'm confident they will adjust for this year.

            1. Unlike Berkeley and SF, which each have really fabulous much-better-than-whole-foods options, the peninsula doesn't have that kind of standout. Besides the safeway/luckys/whole foods/trader joes/costco (and more independant chain nob hill which is in the same quality range), there is Andronico's and Dragers. Andronico's is around the quality level of Whole Foods with less selection, and Drager's is higher. Then there are the farmer's markets. Ranch99 is an asian chain, Mi Pueblo is a Mexican chain, both of which include some very large stores.

              For more specific answers, you might share where on the peninsula you'd be shopping, and how much price matters to you.


              7 Replies
              1. re: bbulkow

                Add Mollie Stone's (Burlingame, San Mateo) to the Andronico's and Draeger's band.

                1. re: artemis

                  Yep - and there's one in Palo Alto, too. I'd put the one in PA at the "slightly worse than whole foods" category.

                2. re: bbulkow

                  There's another branch in Foster City that's not coming up. Among other things, they have live fish in tanks.

                  99 Ranch Market
                  250 Skyline Plz, Daly City, CA

                  99 Ranch Market
                  1350 Grant Rd, Mountain View, CA

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    Price matters, and will probably be in the redwood city vicinity.

                    1. re: j918kny

                      If price matters, in Redwood City you might want to check out the Mexican markets around Middlefield Road.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Mi Rancho by Target Redwood City just opened and it's pretty impressive.

                      2. re: j918kny

                        I like Chavez market tortillas, and get produce there from time to time.

                    2. I moved to San Mateo last summer and am sad to report that the choices are somewhat disappointing (compared to SF, Berkeley and Santa Cruz). Since I lived near Downtown, I shopped a few times at the Downtown San Mateo Farmer's Market, which ran until October. Hopefully it returns this spring or summer (does anyone have the scoop??). It's small but had a decent array of organic veggies and fruit. Draeger's has decently priced chicken and is good for last minute groceries (I tend to avoid it otherwise because it's pretty expensive). I haven't tried their other meat products or seafood. I buy my seafood and pork at the Asian markets. Still have to check out a few of the places suggested by other Hounds.

                      As for events, I know the various cities have festivals in the summer and fall. I was bummed to miss the Italian Festival in San Mateo. I did make it to one...the San Carlos Wine & Beer Festival. There were a lot of food choices and lots of art booths. The wine and beer choices were sparse though. Nevertheless, I thought it was a nice event.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: yehfromthebay

                        Draegers has great prices on house-made bread. Definitely the best hamburger and hotdog buns, and challah. Yeh, go to the CSM farmer's market - it's year round and one of the largest in the bay area.

                        The Belmont Greek festival was great. I think it was Labor Day weekend. Best gyro EVER.

                        1. re: yehfromthebay

                          Another small local upscale grocery chain in San Mateo and Palo Alto is Piazza's, which I like better than Draeger's (which I find offputting, somehow).

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Oh, Ruth, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. I've given up on Draeger's -- they do have a good selection of products but the prices are ridiculously high and I've always found the staff to be terribly snooty.
                            I do like Lunardi's on the Burlingame/Millbrae border, but I've also just discovered the Burlingame Farmers Market, which is not a farmers' market and nothing to do with the Burlingame farmers' market held on Burlingame Avenue on Sundays; it's a small grocery store on Broadway. A family who own the Parkside Market in San Francisco's Sunset took it over recently, and it's reminiscent of San Francisco neighborhood groceries with the big bins of fruit on the sidewalk. Mostly produce -- some organic, mostly conventional, all very reasonably priced -- and a large selection of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean/Russian foods.

                        2. One great option is to do a CSA on the Peninsula. Two Small Farms has been my CSA for 7 years, but this year they split into 2. We are going with Mariquita due to proximity of the pick up site to our home, but High Ground has more pick up sites. There are others, and you get great fresh produce. Other than that I second Sigona's for good prices and quality. Everything is labeled as to its origin which gives you a clue about its freshness, and they sell older produce at a discount. My kids love banana ice cream/frozen yogurt, so we love to get their bags of super ripe bananas.

                          We have Frog Hollow for fruit which isn't any cheaper than the farmer's market, but convenient. However, I miss going to the market.

                          Meat - we do Marin Sun Farms CSA. I really enjoy their goat and beef, but it always comes frozen if you prefer never frozen meat. We shop at Schaub's occasionally but it is super expensive.

                          There are nice groceries scattered throughout. I don't love any of the grocery stores for produce unfortunately.

                          What you do have is some really fantastic ethnic food along the Peninsula. Up toward the north there is Filipino, moving down you get some great Mexican, further down Indian and I think Korean. I know there are lots of threads on these cuisines. I shop at ethnic groceries all the time.

                          1. Couple more bits of trivia about some local retailers.

                            Andronico's was better known to us natives as Park & Shop, a notably mediocre small local chain including a couple locations in Berkeley, until around 1986. Then, with the burst of energy and business concepts that often implies a new generation (or at least new management) in charge, abruptly the Solano Avenue location installed checkerboard flooring and dazzling new aisles of condiments that many people didn't know what to make of (they didn't always sell) and re-branded itself "Andronico's." The chain then proceeded in the next few years to expand rapidly, acquiring sites from other supermarkets, incl. the venerable Shattuck-Avenue "Co-Op" (defunct 1985) and a Lucky [?] in Los Altos, Loyola corners off Foothill (1992 or so). It's a useful chain, but not in the league of Draeger's which carries some truly unique high-end merchandise (and wines), or the remarkable independent Robert's Market in Woodside (whose wine dept. is famous).

                            Costco: first I'll admit I tend to avoid it because of the nuisance of annual membership renewal for something used just occasionally, and because it's so vast and slow it always feels like a half-day excursion (hence the competing Smart & Final chain, which is partly a restaurant-supply business, accurately bills itself a "Smaller, faster" warehouse store). However! Several sharp foodie friends have noted truly exceptional products at Costco, reflecting also the huge firm's pricing power. Artisanal English cheeses, quality meats, large freshly roasted chickens at $5 ("we get three meals out of one of those" said friends recently), and some classy premium wines are offhand examples of products commending Costco to the attention of any serious cook, at least those with enough time for the imposing process of shopping there. At least get yourself a "commercial" membership (if you don't have a business, start one) which lets you in an hour earlier, not that it exempts you from the miles of walking and half-hour of waiting to check out.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: eatzalot

                              Costco stocks some good wines, but their prices are generally higher than K&L, Wine Club, or Beltramo's.

                              Their roast chicken is better than you'd expect for the price, but it's not very good. I'd give it at best 5 out of 10.

                              Beltramo's Wines & Spirits
                              1540 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                              K & L Wine Merchants
                              3005 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94061

                              Wine Club
                              1200 Coleman Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                I've been a steady customer of K&L and Beltramo's for twenty years, they're outstanding sources that I generally prefer and recommend. But it was in exactly that context that I recommended Costco, not for general wines (which may indeed be less competitive), but for Costco's somewhat random "mixed fine wine pallets," which have repeatedly carried true values for the wine-knowledgeable customer, I can testify.

                                A few years ago, a member of one of my Bay Area Burgundy-tasting groups spotted a familiar Tollot-Beaut Côte-de-Beaune lieu-dit in a local Costco at an extremely competitive price. We know these and other wines, and their market prices, very well. After sampling a bottle to verify its condition and handling, we bought out the local Costcos of this wine, and I then noticed similar values as part of the "mixed fine-wine" pallets that arrive periodically. Even if not everyone has noticed this, other people here who like to sniff out such deals may similarly benefit (that's the only reason I mentioned the subject).

                                1. re: eatzalot

                                  Which Costco? I've never seen anything very esoteric except at the Redwood City store.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Not sure what you mean by esoteric (I cited Tollot-Beaut, a major producer of the southern Côte d'Or and long known to many Bay Area wine gee -- sorry, "oenophiles" -- excepting maybe those who limit themselves just to California wines -- and typical of what I might buy at Beltramo's or K&L, which you mentioned). But also, I stress what Costco personnel repeatedly described as the mixed fine-wine pallets, which come in randomly and contain items not always steadily stocked.

                                    The buys I mentioned were at Sunnyvale and Mtn-View Costcos. I've spent more time in the MV location and periodically gotten other superb values there in premium wines -- Australian too -- so it wasn't some one-time event.

                            2. If you are going to be in the northern peninsula you can look for Lunardi's a small chain with stores in San Bruno, Burlingame and Belmont (plus 2 stores in the South Bay and two in Contra Costa county). These are general groceries with better than average quality brands but still reasonable prices. The real stand-out is their full service butcher and sea food department.

                              Mollie Stone's also has a location in San Bruno.

                              As for farmer's markets, the big Alemany market in San Francisco is a quick trip from the north Peninsula. There are smaller markets in Pacifica (Wednesday afternoon til 6) and Half Moon Bay (Saturday morning) but sadly these are on hiatus until May. The Daly City farmers market on Thursday and Saturday runs all year. It's in the Serramonte mall rear parking lot. It's not the biggest market but it covers the basics.

                              Also, don't forget that you can get really fresh sea food in Half Moon Bay (Princeton Harbor area) directly from the boats (Princeton Harbor area) or from the excellent sea food markets there that also get their stocks from local fishermen.

                              Mollie Stone's
                              851 Cherry Ave # 22, San Bruno, CA

                              1. I'm in San Carlos, in the center of the Peninsula. There's Bianchini's in San Carlos and Portola Valley, Crystal Springs Fish and Poultry in San Mateo for seafood and poultry. Sigona's Redwood City, across from Costco is one of my favorites for produce and grass fed beef (although there's only a limited selection.) College of San Mateo and Palo Alto Farmer's markets, both on Saturdays are great community events with great vendors.
                                There's also a small farmers market in Belmont on Sundays and in the summer, San Carlos does a Thursday evening farmers market which is a big community event.
                                It is worth going up to the city to the Ferry Plaza, it's not too far and you can take the train. I finally made it to Fatted Calf in Hayes Valley, SF and I think I'll be doing a trip at least once a month to stock up...
                                Also, Nijiya and Suruki (Japanese) Takahasi (Japanese/Hawaiian) all in San Mateo.

                                Fatted Calf
                                644-C First Street, Napa, CA 94559

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

                                1. I second the request to know where on the Peninsula you are living before putting in my two cents. There must be hundreds of quality food purveyors. I second the CSA idea that somebody posted, as I too did Two Small Farms for several years. Farm Fresh to You is another one that is more flexible.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: caseycm

                                    Farm Fresh to You is a not really a CSA program.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      This is Thaddeus Barsotti. My brothers and I own Capay Organic and Farm Fresh To You. I saw the above post that “Farm Fresh To You isn’t a CSA”. That statement is incorrect, we are a CSA.

                                      My parents started farming organically in 1976 and my mother started Farm Fresh To You in the early 90’s as a way to connect consumers directly with our farm and provide a year round income for our family. Since my mother’s death in 2000, my brothers and I have continued running the business and connecting more consumers to our farm and other local farmers than my mother ever imagined possible.

                                      The value of a CSA is that consumers can connect directly with the farmer growing their food. We farm the same land my parents started with in 1976 and not only connect consumers to our farm, we work with other farmers to make sure our box has a great selection and farms that may not run their own CSA have a connection with consumers as well.

                                      It is true that we are a unique CSA. We believe that our customers want to best selection of local produce year round. To accomplish this, we supplement our farm’s selection with farmers (that we know and trust) in other geographic regions to ensure we always provide a superior selection.

                                      If you don’t want produce from other farms then select our “valley box” option. Those products come only from our farm.

                                      Farm Fresh To You
                                      1 Ferry Bldg # 9, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                      1. re: farmfreshtoyou

                                        A CSA is about establishing a direct relationship between a farm and a group of consumers, providing a local connection to the land and the seasons. The inevitable occasional lack of variety is part of the point.


                                        You've grown way beyond that. According to an article in the Sacramento Business Journal last summer about your purchase of a 26,000-square-foot warehouse in West Sacramento, Capay Inc. "is fast approaching $15 million in annual revenue and employs 212 people, including about 150 seasonal workers during the peak summer season. The company expects to move into the West Sacramento location this fall, and remove storage and portable offices from the farm in Capay. ... The company delivers boxes to 13,000 customers a week, in addition to selling at 15 farmers’ markets, operating a retail store in San Francisco and delivering special orders to restaurants."


                                        To raech that point, you've abandoned some of the fundamental principles of a CSA, most notably that what the one farm grows is what subscribers get. Even this week's "Valley Box" includes celery root from another Capay Valley farm and kiwis from Marysville. Other boxes include apples and pears from Washington, mangoes from Ecuador, and bananas from Mexico.

                                  2. I agree with most of what's been said and would add....If you must go to Whole Foods, avoid the one in Palo Alto and go to Redwood City or (better) Los Altos. One of the best things about Whole Foods (although there are many negatives, too) is the bread selection, which keeps it -- regretfully -- on our list, since that's better than at any other local markets I've found.
                                    Shop the local farmers markets for produce when you can. I love mache and make tons of salads. Interestingly, by far the freshest supply of salad greens is at Trader Joe's. Whole Foods, not so much.
                                    I strongly disagree with those who have steered you to any local supermarket for seafood. There's only one place for FRESH seafood and that's Cook's in Menlo Park. The supermarkets' offerings can't compare. The fish guys at supermarkets all say, "it just came in" about whatever fish you point at. Uh huh. But then you get it home and find out the truth.
                                    For more unusual poultry (Muscovy duck, squab, etc.) that's not frozen, Andronico's is your best bet.
                                    The best lamb around is from Draeger's (I think all their meat is good, actually). Try their frenched lamb loin chops and you'll be a believer.
                                    I used to get hanger steak (hard to find) at JJ & F but I think they're going out of business, sadly. I heard that their lamb was good, too.
                                    We love crudo and I buy sushi-quality hamachi at Nak's, a delightful little store in downtown Menlo Park that crams a whole lot of Asian ingredients into a tiny space. Nak's stocks other fish for sushi.
                                    A longtime local institution for cakes and such is Prolific Oven in downtown Palo Alto. It's often the go-to spot for birthday cakes.
                                    Draeger's is the everything store -- all the exotica that isn't stocked elsewhere. And you'll pay, pay, pay.

                                    Prolific Oven
                                    550 Waverley St, Palo Alto, CA

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: aupif

                                      aupif, have you tried Mayfield Bakery's breads in PA at Town & Country? They are turning out some nice loaves there. The currant country pecan baguette, levain, and the multi-seed sandwich bread are really very very good. I go to WF a fair amount, but not for bread anymore, between Mayfield and farmer's markets

                                      Mayfield Bakery & Cafe
                                      855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301