Best Farmers' Market - 2000
Heart of the City Farmers' Market
If you can make a habit of stopping by here Wednesday or Sunday mornings, your days of picking through Safeway's much-fingered produce in search of a single ripe vegetable are over. Here you'll find stall after stall of California's seasonal output, all perfectly ripe and ready to eat, not to mention for sale at penny-on-the-dollar prices compared to local supermarkets. (A wad of ones and a pocketful of change will have you loaded down with more veggies than you can carry.) It's part open-air market and part vegetable circus, with vendors doubling as the deal-spieling carnies. Make no mistake about it -- this is no trendy "farmers' faire" with jacked-up prices and a latte booth at either end. It's seasonal produce at cut-rate prices from the people who grow it, which means massive quantities of eggplant, various greens, tomatoes, peppers, and assorted surprises -- many of them staples of Asian cooking. Certified organics are a bit more pricey, but still cheaper than you'll find them at most markets. You can't always predict what'll be offered -- that's up to Ma Nature, of course -- but if you're cooking a meal for 20 (or one), this is the place to begin. A couple of stalls offer fish and other seafood, live chickens are hawked out of the back of a truck, and other vendors offer products ranging from fresh-baked bread to olive oil. A word to the wise: For the best selection arrive early, as many of the stalls sell out or close down in the early afternoon.