I outdo myself on day 2 of my San Francisco food adventure. In addition to La Cocina’s SF Street Food Festival, I hit up the following venues:
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market- Regardless of how many times I visit this farmers market on Saturdays – sandwiched between the ferry terminal building and the Pacific Ocean – I always discover some new edible treasure whether it is a new species of radish (watermelon radish, to be precise), Roli Roti’s porchetta sandwich (longest mobile food truck line I have seen in a while, but worth the wait) or four new species of pluots.
The Ferry Plaza is where a high concentration of tourists and locals converge to make this one of the most widely attended farmers markets in the country, topping out at an average of 25,000 attendees per week. The farmers market action goes down three times a week, but Saturday is when the big vendors come out and play.
I am most intrigued by the niche vendors who specialize in 1-2 products. One example is Chico’s Greg Massa, who sells almonds and brown rice. That’s right. We are not talking about almonds, peanuts and brown rice or almonds, brown rice, and quinoa. Nope, just brown rice and almonds. Curious combination, but it seems to be working as he has a loyal following and his almonds sure are tasty.
Readers Café and Bookstore –When I want to escape the masses of tourists and blend in as a local, I go to Readers Café and Bookstore for some tranquility. Connected to a used book store that has a good ol’ library feel, this would be my ritual Sunday hangout if I lived in SF.
Grab a biography on the Flaming Lips or pick up one of the cookbooks from the food section of the bookstore, order some famed Blue Bottle coffee or a tea and while you are at it, pick up an empanada, turkey sandwich or some other goodie from the glass display case. Then, grab a seat for an hour or two or three. This casual and chill joint is not the type of place that rushes you out and they don’t mind if you sip coffee while flipping through their books. No need to regard food as contraband.
All purchases from both the cafe and bookstore benefit the San Francisco Public Library. How is that for giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling?
Fog City News – With a combination of exclusive magazines straight from Paris and an impressive selection of high quality chocolate, Fog City is a gem. This is where I get my fix of French fashion while nibbling on some chocolate from artisan masters such as Poco Dolce, Christopher Elbow and Amano.
The staff is quite knowledgeable about the chocolate so feel free to hit them up with questions on origin, taste blends, and more.
Blue Bottle Coffee Co. – I feel somewhat unoriginal in joining the Blue Bottle bandwagon, but I can’t help it. I like the place, too. I take a pass at this microroastery on a Saturday morning as the line is wrapped around the serpentine queue many times round, but return on Sunday morning at 8:55am thinking there will not be a line before the stores in the ferry terminal building open and without the crowds filtering in from the Saturday farmers market. I am mistaken. There is most certainly a line filled with fellow java lovers, but my rationale is not completely false as the line is much more manageable.
- I pass the 15-minute wait in line by conversing with a visiting professor from Malaysia who has also heard rave reviews about Blue Bottle and a local SF couple who stops in every weekend to start the morning.
My patience yields a reward – a cafe au lait and a Belgian waffle lightly coated with cinnamon and sugar.
Tip: There is a somewhat hidden walk-up window on the side of Blue Bottle Co. that generally has a shorter line. For a treat, try the affogato.
Staying in - Ironically, my most memorable food moment of the trip is the one where I decide to stay in for the night. My friends Katherine and Alex opened up their swanky apartment to me for the weekend, and on Saturday night, they invite a few friends over to share in some treats they had picked up from the venerable Ferry Building Saturday Farmers market and some treats from Katherine’s recent trips to the Middle East.
We nibble on a simple preparation of guacamole, heirloom tomato salad dressed in olive oil, an assortment of cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, crostinis from The Acme Bread, and more. I am humbly reminded the best meals are sometimes the ones that happen at home with good company, great food and wine, and discussions of past and future meals and travels.
Click here to read about my Day 1 – SF adventures.