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Seeking produce a la Berkeley Bowl, but in SF?

bobabear Oct 7, 2013 05:25 PM

Hi everyone!

I love Berkeley Bowl's abundance of produce options - every type of mushroom I could imagine, 10 kinds of chard, 20 kinds of potatoes, etc. Unfortunately I don't love the drive across the bridge every weekend.

Currently I shop at the Alemany Farmer's Market which has great selection, but it's only 1 day a week. Rainbow has some nice produce as well, but I'm not concerned about organic (and I find Rainbow super expensive).

What grocers would you recommend in SF (or all the way down to Daly City) that have a similar wide selection?

  1. Robert Lauriston Oct 7, 2013 05:28 PM

    They don't exist. That's why people put up with the drive.

    1. Dave MP Oct 7, 2013 08:55 PM

      Are you primarily interested in fruits and vegetables? Like Robert says, there's not really anything that rivals Berkeley Bowl. I also shop at Alemany Farmers market and Rainbow for produce. The Wednesday Civic Center farmers market is also really good.

      Depending on what you're after, some of the Mission bodegas have good produce (but its not consistent I don't find) as do markets in Chinatown, the Richmond and Sunset.

      In Daly City, there's the Korean market on Junipero Serra and the Ranch 99, which can have decent produce sometimes.

      But yeah. Anytime I find myself in Berkeley with more than 30 mins to spare, I go to BB.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Dave MP
        bobabear Oct 7, 2013 10:17 PM

        Yup, mostly interested in fruits and vegetables. I'm looking for a BB alternative for those days I want to grab something after work or need to find a special ingredient last minute (live and work in SF, so driving over to BB is not the best idea for these trips :))

        I haven't heard of the Korean market, so will definitely check it out, thank you!

        1. re: bobabear
          Robert Lauriston Oct 8, 2013 09:21 AM

          Pacific Super on Alemany is similar to 99 Ranch in El Cerrito.

          22nd & Irving Market is probably the closest thing to BB in SF, though it's not very close.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            Melanie Wong Oct 8, 2013 10:30 AM

            22nd & Irving is a good suggestion. It's small and can't come close to what BB has, but I always see something special there each time I drop in. I posted about the fresh olives I noticed two weeks ago. And in the same visit I noted that there were at least a dozen different kinds of potatoes on display. And the advantage for bobabear is the Chinese grocery shopping also available nearby on Irving.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              bobabear Oct 8, 2013 11:01 AM

              I'm over in that area often for restaurants anyway, so I'll check it out. Thanks, Robert and Melanie!

      2. m
        ML8000 Oct 7, 2013 09:45 PM

        Is Berkeley Bowl East any easier from SF? 2nd exit off the bridge doesn't sound so bad but I guess $5-6 toll does. Any way, running around to 2 or 3 places/stops in SF takes more time and effort.

        Why not make a day of it. Oakland is also really nice.

        7 Replies
        1. re: ML8000
          bobabear Oct 7, 2013 10:18 PM

          I actually haven't been to East at all! Usually if I go to BB West, I head down to El Cerrito and also go to the Chinese mall, so it's more convenient (I think).

          Any recommended grocers in Oakland? I haven't spent much time there other than to go to the Scandinavian grocer.

          1. re: bobabear
            f
            flavorenhancer Oct 8, 2013 10:25 AM

            If you are thinking about Nordic House, they are in Berkeley now, on San Pablo Avenue, the old highway 123. I mention this because all the places you like to visit are reached via San Pablo Avenue. Yes you can get to these places on the freeway but San Pablo has all kinds of little markets (some with produce) to make the cross-bridge trip worth the effort.
            Nordic House (Norway/Scandinavia)
            Mi Tierra (Mexican/Latin American)
            Bayside Market (Mexican/Latin American)
            Middle East Market (Afghan/Middle Eastern)
            Halal Meat Market (middle eastern)
            Indus (Pakistani/middle eastern)
            The Spanish Table (Spain/Portugal)
            Tokyo Fish (Japan)
            There's more, plus the bridge toll is still 4 bucks mid day during the week.

            1. re: flavorenhancer
              Robert Lauriston Oct 8, 2013 10:30 AM

              Middle East is primarily Persian.

              Indus is owned by Pakistanis but they have kind of a lot of Turkish stuff.

              1. re: flavorenhancer
                bobabear Oct 8, 2013 11:00 AM

                Very cool! This makes going over to San Pablo sound more attractive. I'll give it a go this weekend since I have to go to Ikea :) Thank you very much!

                1. re: bobabear
                  wolfe Oct 8, 2013 12:36 PM

                  Ikea to BBW passes Rotten City Pizza. BBW to Nordic House less than .5 miles.

              2. re: bobabear
                Robert Lauriston Oct 8, 2013 10:31 AM

                Koreana Plaza in Oakland is worth a visit.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  k
                  karenfinan Oct 8, 2013 06:18 PM

                  I went there on a chow hound rec and thoroughly enjoyed it. They had at least 6 kinds of kimchee.

            2. h
              hyperbowler Oct 8, 2013 11:45 AM

              Bobabear, it would help to hear your general path from work to home. For example, once you take parking and traffic into account, its quicker for me sometimes to go to Berkeley Bowl than Clement St.

              To generalize to SF, it sounds like you're looking for farmer's market style produce and at cheap prices and every day of the week. Lifting the organic restriction is helpful. Depending on how much stuff you need, desperation could cause you to spend a few extra bucks.

              Definitely expensive: Canyon Market, Bi-Rite, Whole Foods...

              Moderately expensive: Rainbow Grocery, Haight Street
              Market (limited selection)

              Cheap: competition means good quality Asian greens on Stockton street, Pacific Super and Manila Market for diverse Asian produce but variable quality

              Perhaps from places mentioned at this link, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/689461 , where do other places fit in? What are the prices like at 22nd and Irving Market?

              5 Replies
              1. re: hyperbowler
                Melanie Wong Oct 8, 2013 12:15 PM

                22nd & Irving's prices are competitive with inexpensive Chinese green grocers along that stretch of Irving. It has some Asian produce, but a broader selection of other types of produce than the Chinese stands. The produce as well as the imported foodstuffs have a Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian slant. This makes it somewhat similar to Parkside Farmers Market (grocery store) but with more fresh produce.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/546138

                Two other stores that have been mentioned for inexpensive fresh produce and specialty crops that I've not checked out myself are

                G & G Finest Produce, 5015 Geary Blvd.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/790969#6620831

                and
                4th Ave & Geary Farmers Market, 3931 Geary Blvd
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8738...

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  m
                  ML8000 Oct 8, 2013 12:38 PM

                  I believe both G&G and the place at 4th Ave are Greek owned, at least they were.

                  1. re: ML8000
                    Melanie Wong Oct 8, 2013 01:05 PM

                    That last post about G & G was in 2011 and noted that hours were limited to Wed-Fri then. So, check the opening times before making a special trip.

                2. re: hyperbowler
                  bobabear Oct 8, 2013 12:29 PM

                  Hyperbowler, to generalize some more:
                  I'm looking for a SF (to Daly City) farmer's market style selection of produce for < mid-range prices. For those days I decide I want to make chanterelle risotto after work and can stop somewhere that has good quality chanterelles and not Ferry Building Mushroom Place prices or I need loveage which can be hard to find (but I've seen it at BB!).

                  Some of the speciality stores in the other thread sound great! Thank you for linking.

                  General path: Portola to downtown SF. I can go to Chinatown or Rainbow after work easily, but I'm also fine with driving across the city to Sunset/Richmond and getting home from that route.

                  Melanie - G&G sounds great! I'm also a fan of the 4th Ave Geary shop :) Thank you!

                  1. re: bobabear
                    Ruth Lafler Oct 8, 2013 12:42 PM

                    I work in downtown SF and have occasionally taken BART to BB East at (long) lunch. It's less than a 10-minute walk from the Ashby BART station. While it's not the best option if you're doing a big weekly shopping, it's quite workable if you realize you need an item (or items) that day.

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