How many farmer's markets are both a top tourist attraction and a go-to stop for world-renowned chefs? San Francisco's Ferry Building market is one such place; it is loved and frequented by foodies in the city, whether they're long-time locals or just passing through.
Housed in a historic landmark in the heart of the San Francisco waterfront, the Ferry Building marketplace isn't just your run-of-the-mill produce market; it's a sustainable food system and gourmet food emporium that has also become a cultural hub. Oh, and it's still a functioning ferry terminal as well! When planning a trip to San Francisco, this is one stop that shouldn't be missed.
What And Where Is The San Francisco Ferry Building?
As the name implies, the Ferry Building is actually a ferry depot with frequent departures to various Bay Area locations. Combined with its central location along Market Street and the Embarcadero, it is very accessible via public transportation from all of San Francisco's neighborhoods and surrounding communities.
The Ferry Building has a rich history, first opening in 1898. It features an immense clock tower, which has been one of San Francisco's most iconic landmarks since its inception.
In its glory days, more than 50,000 people per day transited the Ferry Building as ferries were the primary means of accessing the peninsula. Once automobiles came into the picture and the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge were constructed, ferries became largely obsolete and the building sat empty.
In 2003, the Ferry Building re-opened its doors after an extensive restoration project; this time re-launching itself as the world-class sustainable public food market of today. Some of the city's most famous chefs visit weekly to purchase locally-grown, organic produce for their restaurants. At the same time, the marketplace is enjoyed by visitors from across the globe.
When Is The Ferry Building Farmer's Market? (And What To Expect)
This expansive farmer’s market isn’t limited to just one day. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, endless rows of local farmers, bakers, cheese-makers and other food artisans, as well as a ton of street food stalls, all set up to sell their goods.
There are over 100 vendors at the Ferry Building farmer's market (although some are seasonal), and the focus is on sustainability.
Preference is given to local farmers who utilize sustainable, organic agriculture practices, and to prepared-food vendors who source their ingredients from these same farmers.
The lively hustle and bustle combined with vast array of offerings is a draw in itself for anyone just wanting to take in the sights and smells, however it is also the primary location for hundreds of Bay Area restaurants to shop for the freshest local, seasonal produce.
Hours of Operation
The Ferry Plaza farmer's market operates on the same schedule all year round, rain or shine.
- Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10am - 2pm, markets are held in the front of the building
- Saturdays: 8am - 2pm, markets take place in the back plaza overlooking the San Francisco Bay. On Saturdays there are also cooking demos, free public education programs, and a 'veggie valet' for hands-free shopping and curbside pick-up.
More Than A Farmer's Market: Ferry Building Restaurants And Dining
Cooking isn't on the cards while on vacation? Don't worry; the ferry building marketplace also has full-service dining options.
Below is an overview of some of the most popular permanent eateries found inside the Ferry Building that can be visited on any day of the week.
- Blue Bottle Coffee: pesticide-free micro-batch roastery, espresso bar and tasting room, and Belgian waffles. Open Monday - Sunday, 6:30am - 6:30pm
- Boulettes Larder and Boulibar: wood-fired pizzas, salads, mezze, and cocktails by distinguished chefs. Open Tuesday - Friday 11:30am - 9:30pm, Saturday 11:30am - 2pm/4pm - 8pm, Sunday brunch 10am - 2:30pm
- Cholita Linda: Baja-style fish tacos with handmade-everything. Open Sunday - Friday 11am - 8pm, Saturday 10am - 8pm.
- Daily Driver: artisan creamery and certified-organic bagel shop. Open Sunday - Friday 8am - 2pm, Saturday 8am - 3pm.
- Donut Farm: vegan, organic donuts plus hot food on the weekends. Open Monday - Friday 7am - 4pm, Sat/Sun 9am - 4pm.
- El Porteño Empanadas: Traditional Argentinian empanadas with a seasonal rotation of offerings. Open Monday - Saturday 7am - 8pm, Sunday 8pm - 7am.
- Gott's Roadside: Hamburgers, poke tacos, and California classics made from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients (and a local wine and beer list too). Open Monday - Thursday 10am - 9pm, Friday/Saturday 10am - 10pm, Sunday 10am - 8:30pm.
- Grande Creperie: family-owned and operated casual French cuisine with sweet and savory offerings and seasonal menu highlights. Open Tuesday - Sunday 8am - 3pm.
- Hog Island Oyster Company: oyster bar and full-service fine dining with stunning views of the Bay. Open Monday - Sunday 11am - 8pm.
- Imperial Tea Court: stunning traditional Chinese tea shop offering up over 100 varieties with seated tea and food service. Open Monday - Thursday 10:30am - 4pm, Friday/Saturday 8:30am - 5pm.
- The Slanted Door: nationally-acclaimed Vietnamese fare using sustainably raised fish, poultry, and meat. Dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows look out to the Bay, with seating for 175 people. Currently under renovation, but re-opening in late 2022.
But Wait, There's More...
Additionally, there is a huge array of gourmet grocers and food-and-bev based specialty shops in the Ferry Building. Grab some goods for home or pick up a local (and delicious) gift for a friend or family member.
There are also frequent Wednesday night wine events and 'flight nights' at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant. Taste rare and renowned wines from around the world in an intimate yet relaxed setting.
Besides sit-down dining, visitors will find wine bars, a slew of premium sweet treat options, and even vendors of artisan olive oil, caviar, and fungi (we're talking about mushrooms, of course).
Is The Ferry Building Worth Visiting?
By now the answer is pretty clear, but it is a resounding 'yes'. The San Francisco Ferry Building marketplace is not to be confused as a tourist-trap.
It is a foodie haven and local staple that has something for everyone to enjoy, with the added bonus of being housed in a historical landmark surrounded by iconic waterfront views.