We do love food markets and I've been making more of an attempt to visit them in various cities. I admit that I had not taken the time to go to the Ferry Building despite it being in my city primarily because of it's location at the Embarcadero - a busy and touristy area of town. Don't let that put you off though the markets are well worth a visit and the crowds are manageable if you go mid week or early morning on weekends.
The San Francisco Ferry Building was converted into a food hall after the decline of ferry transport in the city and earthquake damage. Large renovations have been completed to bring the beaux arts building back to its former glory.
I had heard it touted as a farmer's market but there's no flimsy marquees here, this is high end boutique eating from California creators like this Golden Gate meat company stall. The Ferry Building is one of the few places in the Bay Area that you can reliably get dedicated butchers and game meat.
Drying hams and beef can be found on display at a number of butcher and charcuterie vendors. You can see the deliciousness forming over time.
Prather Ranch Meat Co. is another specialty butcher featuring sustainable and humane meat, free of antibiotics and hormones common in the US.
Mariposa is the gluten free bakery that amazes my coeliac friends. This is no dull heavy brick style bread that some wheat free bakers produce but instead a huge range of bread, cookies and pastries that have the mouth feel and density of wheat based products. I don't know what their magic is but Mariposa makes for great gifts for those with dietary restrictions and always delights.
This nut stall offers a huge arrange of raw and roasted nuts but also the most amazing natural nut products like additive free nut butters and brittles. Try the cinnamon almond brittle it's amazing.
Finding good quality honey in the US can be hard and shockingly honey is often watered down with glucose or corn syrup. Beekind is the answer offering pure local honey from a variety of orchards and wildflowers.
There are plenty of options for the tea lover like this stall from Heath Ceramics with a wide array of tea cups and pots as well as crockery. Or try the Imperial Tea Court for an Asian traditional tea house offering Chinese and Japanese teas in a formal setting. There's even a dim sum restaurant included for those who like their tea with a side of pork.
A number of the bakery vendors like the Acme Bread Company sell sandwiches pre-made or on custom order and featuring the meat and cheeses of other vendors on display. This makes it a great option for a brunch or lunch outing. Be warned though there are only a couple of venues that have actual seating. Consider buying yourself a picnic and heading down to Pier 39 to watch San Francisco's infamous urban seal lions.
We decide to stop at Boccalone - a charcuterie store run by celebrity chef and Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino. This is a great stop for the cured meat fan or the foodie TV obsessive. You can buy cones of shaved cold meats - great for a low carb lunch option or buy yourself a pressed sandwich filled with melt in your mouth charcuterie.
Prosciutto cotto with provolone and whole grain mustard $8.50USD
Hot italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onions $8.50USD
Of course my favourite offering has to be the Cowgirl Creamery Cheese shop. They offer a huge range of cheeses direct from Cowgirl and other local cheese producers from Marin and Sonoma Counties where goat's cheese is a speciality. They also have a small sandwich shop called Cowgirl Sidekick offering the fanciest grilled cheese one could imagine.
Buy local artisan cheeses by the round or tub and take home plenty of sides like fresh pickles, jams and nuts to make the perfect cheeseboard dinner.
They don't stop themselves at local cheeses though. European cheeses from Scandinavia, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and more are available as well as American cheeses from Wisconsin (which rival the European cheeses in taste and quality).
All in all the Ferry Building is a fun day out if you can handle the crowds or plan around them. Definitely take the chance to buy local organic produce to take home or to have a picnic around the northern tip of San Francisco with beautiful ocean views and the usual eclectic San Francisco Culture.
San Francisco Ferry Building
San Francisco Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA 94105
High end food market and boutique eateries