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MUST-BUYS at the ferry building farmer's market? [San Francisco]

  • j

hello all,

have been dying to see this and will finally make it in the first week of april! we will not be there on a saturday, but can make the tuesday market. i know it will be smaller, but between the farmer's market and the building vendors, are there any items i must get to bring back home (we're in los angeles)?

also, i am drooling over all the places people recommend eating, JUST in this area. is it worth going to everyday? can you find great tasting food if we're on a budget? thanks in advance!

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  1. The SF Hounds get a lot of questions like yours so don't be discouraged that you haven't got answers from the locals. We visit twice a year and have spent a reasonable amount of time at the Ferry Plaza. It is not a place I would associate with budget dining though there are snack worthy items that won't break the bank (a fish taco from Mijita hit the spot last trip and was reasonable a la carte). The Tuesday market doesn't seem to have the panoply of ready-made food options outside that the Saturday or even the Thursday one does.

    Maybe if you posted some of the places you've read about that sound good, you'd elicit some feedback?

    1. I used to work a few blocks from the Ferry Building. That's the Financial District so the demographics are weird, local population is maybe a million on weekdays and a few thousand evenings and weekends. Consequently there are a lot of mediocre overpriced places open only for lunch on weekdays. There are a bunch of good restaurants there but prices are in general relatively high compared with, say, the Mission District, though there are exceptions such as Barbacco and Wexler's.

      If you're on a budget:


      1. I'd get some Acme bread inside the Ferry Building. Bread is one of those things LA doesn't do as well as SF.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ML8000

          I believe that Roli Roti serves their exquisite porchetta panino on Tuesdays. Worth a trip just for that.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Ooh, Wise Sons might be worth a look, and Humphrey Slocombe too.

            2. re: little big al

              Thurs/Sat only, not Tuesdays. I'd also recommend Cap'n Mike's for a great smoked fish (salmon and/or tuna "lox") sandwich on sourdough. Sadly Thurs/Sat only.

          1. Rarely go there, but I like the homemade rosemary dusted potato chips at one of the food stands (Soma restaurant whose name escapes me) and the banana tarts at Miette. For sure the roli-roti porchetta if they are open.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chocolatetartguy

              If you're thinking of Lulu Petite, they're gone. Cowgirl Sidekick (grilled cheese sandwiches etc.) took over that space.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I was and finally remembered last night. I'll miss those chips. Now you know how seldom I visit the Ferry Building.

            2. thank you all...i know, it's a bummer we'll be there tuesday and not thurs/sat, but i'll take what i can get!! anything besides bread that you recommend taking home, not just for eating there?

              2 Replies
              1. re: jimyo

                Rechiutti chocolates - fleur de sel caramels & key lime apples are two of my favorites.

                1. re: jimyo

                  The Stonehouse Meyer Lemon Olive Oil is pretty good and has been appreciated by friends outside the Bay Area

                2. I recommend Il Cane Rosso and American Eatery, both of which use quality ingredients sourced from local providers. For that area they are reasonably priced; cheaper than say The Slanted Door. Though I'm not sure you'd prefer a full service restaurant.

                  1. Lunch: Wise Sons (outside), Il Cane Rosso, Out the Door, Blue Bottle coffee. There will be some outside tables out front, and there are also some public tables inside near the Peets coffee.

                    To take home: Rechiutti Chocolates, Cowgirl Creamery cheese, Boccalone salami, Frog Hollow jam or pastries, anything from Boulettes Larder.

                    The Ferry Building is not budget friendly, but there are great gourmet foods here.

                      1. re: mayacobabean

                        Thank you all for your fantastic help! You're right, it's not a place for someone on a budget (my DH got mad at me b/c I blew $80 in under 20 mins.), but it was TOTALLY worth it!! I splurged on Rechiutti Chocolates and am now officially hooked (all the tea chocolates, lavender vanilla, burnt caramel, which ironically, tastes less burnt than their fleur de sel--alll AMMMAAAAAZZZZING!). I'm pretty sure I've spent more on Godiva for about the same amount of chocolate and it wasn't half as good. These are EXQUISITE. Boccalone orange/fennel and brown sugar/fennel salami. Local wildflower honey with the slightest cinnamon finish at BeeKind. St. Pat (seasonal), Mt. Tam and Red Hawk cheeses at Cowgirl Creamery. I had to skip Acme, Miette and Stonehouse b/c by this time, DH had finally gotten his coffee at Blue Bottle and caught up with me and put the brakes on my spree. LOL. Sigh...this place is everything I dreamed of and more. <3

                        1. re: jimyo

                          Very glad to read this... I'll be in SF for a few days, and can visit the Ferry plaza on either Monday or Tuesday. Given that I won't be buying any produce, is there any advantage to going on the Tuesday??

                          1. re: rstuart

                            Between 10 and 2 (or whenever they sell out) on Tuesdays there are prepared-food vendors, scroll down for the list:


                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Thanks Robert.. looks like it's worth trying to go on Tuesday... but not the end of the world if I have to go on Monday (since there are also some interesting vendors inside...
                              Cheers. The SF board has been really useful..

                              1. re: rstuart

                                Lunch inside the Ferry Building can be very good.
                                I like to take an end seat at Hog Island, order oysters and drink sparkling wines. A more interactive approach is to wander the building, grab cheeses, breads, meats, olives, fruits, whatever from vendors and bring my loot to the bar at the Wine Merchants. I like the folk there: wines by the glass, a bottle if you choose. It's all good. The people watching is a bonus.

                            2. re: rstuart

                              when we went, it was on tuesday and there was plenty to see. for what it's worth, after finally getting to experience it firsthand, if i could only go to one place there, it would be recchiuti chocolates. i like chocolate a lot, but i'm not sure i would say i'm a chocoholic...which means that i'm not just saying i'd go back there b/c i just will eat any chocolate, but b/c it was the most exquisite chocolate i've ever had.

                              1. re: jimyo

                                That's good to hear... since I bought some of their chocolates but haven't tried them yet!!! I ended up going on a Tuesday. Didn't have lunch there, but did have "breakfast" (coffee and a pastry) as well as enough samples to keep me going for hours. Really glad I went..

                        2. I might be nearby early on a Sat morning. Do any of the vendors at the farmers' market sell a good sticky bun? Which other sweet pastries stand out at the farmers' market?

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: prima

                            I haven't been in donkey's years, but I would always make a bee-line to the Downtown Bakery stand--any sweet pastry they have on offer will be nothing short of divine.

                            As for inside spots:

                            Frog Hollow has nice pastries (albeit not in the same league as Downtown Bakery; &, though it's beside the point of your query, their jams are good, but not great).

                            And pretty much any sweet (anything, really) you find @ Boulette's Larder, will be lovely.

                            1. re: sundeck sue

                              Craftsman and Wolves just started to sell pastries at the Saturday market; no sticky bun, but great, sophisticated stuff.

                              Another inside spot for pastries (7 days a week) is Jet Black Bakery, with a more rustic approach.

                              Della Fattoria also has really great pastries (and breads) at the Saturday market.

                              Note that Boulette's Larder will be closing for expansion/renovations after the market this Saturday (May 11) and then will re-open as two adjoining spots, Bouli Bar (open for lunch and early dinner and with cocktails, too) and Boulette's Larder.

                              I saw that Starter Bakery had sticky buns (or maybe it was cinnamon rolls?) at the Claremont DMV/Temescal Farmer's Market last Sunday, in case your quest extends to the east bay.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  The "pizze" (as they call it on the menu - - looked it up, it is plural of pizza!) is good. The crust is on the thick/chewy side, like Del Popolo's pizza, maybe a bit more so. The house made pita bread is great. Their hummus has been overlooked in the "of the month" thread; I don't find it very interesting. The other "mezze" spreads available with the pita are really different and great, though. And Bouli Bar should have their full liquor license very soon - it will be when the Boulette's space re-opens.

                                  1. re: foodeye

                                    I found the menu, http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/files...

                                    The SFGate article says Bouli Bar's pizza crust is made with wild starter. Do you notice a difference in flavor? I think the fig pizza is calling me now.

                                    Good to hear that the pita bread is great, we need more of that.

                            2. re: prima

                              Della Fattoria has excellent sticky buns I also recommend their fruit galettes: last week it had strawberries and rhubarb.

                              1. re: prima

                                You're getting some good pastry recs. I'll mention that Downtown Bakery is based in Healdsburg and Della Fattoria is in Petaluma, so you might have a chance to try their goods when you're traveling in Sonoma County, and would want to focus on other purveyors that are SF only.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Thanks for mentioning it's the same Downtown Bakery. One of my relatives works at DB in Healdsburg, and I've had a chance to try some of their pastries on past visits. Agree that they have nice baked goods, but I'll probably focus on the SF purveyors, as you've suggested, Melanie.

                                  Thanks for all the recs, everyone!

                                2. re: prima

                                  Acme's Cinnamon Currant Bread w/ walnuts is very very sticky and one of my favorite baked goods on this planet. They often (but not always) have the mini ones at the ferry building. They have giant ones at the Berkley bakery.

                                  1. re: lrealml

                                    Thanks!Hope to try your recs on my next trip.
                                    I didn't have much time at the Market or Ferry Building, but I did like the dark chocolate English toffee from Miette.

                                  2. re: prima

                                    Downtown Bakery makes sticky buns. Their stuff is great.