SF Farmers Markets: Sunset District

Some people want to be President. Some people want to stay young and beautiful forever. Some people want to be rich enough to afford a garage full of European cars.

Me, on the other hand? My current ambition is to Have a Tradition.

For weeks, I’ve been goading poor Jay about becoming “regulars” somewhere. My wildest fantasy is to walk into a tiny greasy spoon, park my butt at the counter, and have a waitress walk by and ask me, verbatim: “The usual?” (I would also accept the shortened “The ush?”) Sadly, however, my series of special diets and the scant selection of diners in the area doesn’t lend itself to fulfillment of that particular dream.

As such, I’ve pinned my hopes on a different type of weekly routine: a run to the farmers’ market. Instead of cantankerous cooks, I’ll cozy up to kindhearted producers; rather than gorging on stacks of pancakes, I’ll go HAM on free samples. To that end, I’ve been regularly making time for the wonderful markets in the Sunset district. While these are among the friendliest neighborhood gatherings in the entire city, however, the clientele aren’t afraid to get down ‘n dirty for the fantastic Sunday deals. I found myself standing in a swarm of old ladies crowded around a mountainous pile of peaches. Yes, I decided as a grandma (accidentally?) elbowed me quite vigorously. These are my people.

Inner Sunset Farmers Market

Each Sunday, a handful of vendors set up shop in a drive-through parking lot in the Inner Sunset. Despite its teeny size, it’s clear that a lot of love is poured into the event. All the bases of a varied farmers’ market are covered: live entertainment, dairy and meat hawkers, street food booths, and plenty of fruit and vegetable producers. As an unabashed sample scavenger, however, I find that I can’t quite achieve full satiety off of free fruit — and please don’t judge me for using that as a hallmark of a market’s spread. In any case, I can always tip my tummy over the edge at the Heidi’s Pies pop-up; the San Mateo diner-cum-institution is the baker of many fabulous pies, including an excellent (and seasonal) fresh peach pie.

Sunday 9 AM – 1 PM
1310-1326 19th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122

Stonestown Farmers Market

The Stonestown Farmers’ Market amplifies the Inner Sunset’s offerings by several orders of magnitude, making it worth the trek to the southernmost reaches of the city. It’s especially great for those with little ones, having been rated as the most family-friendly of all the markets in San Francisco (I suspect, in large part, due to the enormous bounce house luring in kids all day).

I daresay that this market is my very favorite, due to a few reasons:

  • Samples galore! On a good day, I can get full simply mooching off of fruit and baked good tidbits alone. Please don’t judge me too harshly, as I do actually purchase some goods.
  • Deals 4 days! Since this market takes place on Sunday, vendors are eager to exhaust their reserves before returning back to the farms. I try to time my visits towards the end of the day, when I can get fantastic deals on bottom-of-the-barrel (or shall I say “cosmetically challenged?”) produce.
  • Lots of excellent hot foods, including (but not limited to): fantastic pan-fried Happy Dumplings; the beloved Roli Roti truck; delicious, creative soy-based dishes from Tofu Yu; authentic clay pot-toting India Gourmet; and San Diego-inspired Mexican grub at Fritas Shack. There’s even a coffee klatch!
  • Tons of sweets for sale. There are at least three different bakeries hawking all sorts of dreamy desserts.
  • It’s next to a mall with a Trader Joe’s. If you haven’t spent enough money on organic produce, fear not — you can blow the rest on a cute new J. Crew tote.

There is a final factor, though you’ll have to scroll down a little more for that…

Inventive, delicious rolls from Tofu-Yu — my favorite lunch item at the market!

This California-style carne asada burrito from Fritas Shack was solid, but nothing compared to those from the south.

India Gourmet’s chicken tikka masala had too much cream and not enough flavor, but their freshly-fired naan looked fantastic.

… DOGS. Specifically, rescue dogs! Only a few feet away from the Stonestown Farmers Market is Pet Food Express, which hosts an adoption fair each week through Rocketdog Rescue. Jay and I first spotted the signs from afar. I gasped aloud. We looked at each other, fear in our eyes. “We have to go,” Jay stated. “I know,” I whispered, “but it’s gonna break my heart.” His firm response: “Me too… but we have to.”

I need not mention how we fell in love with nearly every canine we came across… but I will say that, in high school, I’d often drive to the pet store to play with their puppies — so much so that the staff knew me by name. One day I’ll have a lil’ baby dog of my own. Until then, a visit at Pet Foods Express will be incorporated into my farmers’ market tradition.

While the goal is to run to Stonestown each week, we can’t exactly sprint home with bags full of groceries. As such, our return trip is a lovely, leisurely stroll through one of San Francisco’s underrated treasures: Stern Grove. This valley of a park typically goes unappreciated except when it plays host a series of free summer concerts: the Stern Grove Music Festival. Jay and I caught one performance on the way back, and were delighted to find the amphitheatre packed with happy picnickers. We stopped for a moment, soaking in the sun and sounds, before heading home for the last leg of our routine: a nice, fat nap.

Sunday 9 AM – 1 PM
3251 20th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132


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