It's the porchetta that smells the best, but it's the rotisserie chicken that has us standing in the often hour-long lines at Roli Roti, a truck that rolls up every Saturday. Go for the Roli Special, which is a quarter-chicken and potatoes for $6. The skin is so deliciously crisp you end up tearing it all off and eating it first; the dark meat is insanely moist, well-seasoned all the way through, every bite dripping with juices. It's served with potatoes that hang out under the rotisserie so they end up covered drippings. —Carey Jones
Chilaquiles from Mijita
This casual Mexican spot from Traci Des Jardins is also a great bet at breakfast. I love their chorizo con huevos and these chilaquiles; the chips are alternately soft and crispy, with tomatillo and guajillo salsa and finely diced onions. Add refried beans and you've got a mighty belly-filling breakfast for $6.75. — Carey Jones
Okonomiyaki from Namu
The Namu stand at Ferry Plaza farmers' market on Thursdays and Saturdays is loosely Korean, serving tacos in seaweed wrappers and kimchi fried rice, but we're partial to the okonomiyaki: a crisp-edged, soft-middled pancake showered in bonito flakes, squirted with kewpie mayo and a sweet, intensely savory okonomiyaki sauce; kimchi adds a Korean element to the typically Japanese snack. Crispy and soft and sweet and spicy—so many good things going on at once. — Carey Jones
Breakfast from Il Cane Rosso
While the Ferry Plaza storefront makes a memorably good lunch, I might like them even better for a leisurely breakfast—like this intensely creamy house-made yogurt with salty-sweet granola, an olive oil fried egg sandwich where the flavor of that olive oil really is apparent, or even just cinnamon toast on Acme Bread's fine pain de mie. (At lunch, get anything involving pork.) — Carey Jones
Cap'n Mike's Smoked Fish Sandwiches
The fantastic crusty sourdough from Acme bakery certainly gives bagels a run for their money. Topping them with meltingly tender slices of house-smoked fish from Cap'n Mike's—available at the Tuesday and Saturday farmers' markets—doesn't hurt. Read More Here »
[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]
Examining the smoked goods and awesome mustaches.
Merguez from 4505 Meats
The Bacon Studded Hot Dog ($5) seems to be the biggest draw from 4505 Meats, but the Merguez ($7) is the real star. It's salty, fatty, and packed with lamb flavor, spiked with a housemade North African-style spicy harissa paste, and served on a crusty bun packed with cilantro. The lamb casing gives it that crisp snap that you find in only the best hot dogs. For an extra $3, you can make it "Zilla Style," which adds kimchi, scallions, special sauce, and a large handful of crisp fried pork rinds. It may be overkill, but it's deliciously spicy, porky overkill. — J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
Bacon Maple Breakfast Sandwich from 4505 Meats
This is one of the best breakfast sandwiches in America. A bold claim, true, but hear me out. With a breakfast sandwich, the quality of each ingredient is just as important as how they all come together. Here, we start with juicy, sweet-and-spicy maple-flavored sausage patty, top it with nutty cave-aged gruyere, a runny fried egg, and a handful of peppery cress and nasturtium greens. Stacking all of this together so that the liquid yolk melds with the melted cheese and sausage patty juices and soaks into the house-made buttery sesame-seed bun without the whole thing imploding into a dripping mess takes more than a bit of skill.
Buttery, porky, sweet, salty, spicy, cheesy, and perfectly cooked—what more could you ask for? — J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
Meat Cone from Boccalone
Yeah, they've got decent sandwiches, but you can find better composed dishes elsewhere inside the market hall. What you come to Boccalone for is one thing: cured meat. For a measly $3.50, you get a paper cone stuffed with three to four varieties of sliced, expertly cured meats ranging from Prosciutto Cotto and Mortadella to Soppressata and Orange & Wild Fennel Salame. It's great for picking at as you wander through the rest of the stalls, and how often do you get to eat meat from a cone? —J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
Cottage Cheese Dumplings from Cowgirl Creamery
They've got a killer cheese-stuffed pressed sandwich (the cheeses vary daily from $6.75 to $7.50), a full offering of pulled cheeses (Mozzarella di Bufala, Burrata, Fior di Latte; $8.75-$12.75), and the biggest savory cheese puffs you've ever seen ($3.50 each), but one of the best things at Cowgirl Creamery's Sidekick take-out window is their Cottage Cheese Dumplings ($6.75).
Mornings spent on the plaza can get downright chilly, and I can't think of a better way to warm yourself up without weighing yourself down than an intensely savory (but vegetarian!) hot vegetable and cheese broth with soft chunks of sourdough bread and tender cottage cheese dumplings. —J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
Stout Coffee Cake from Blue Bottle Coffee
While you've got to stop at Blue Bottle for a pour-over drip coffee, don't miss the pastry chef—it's much, much more than a scones-and-biscotti afterthought. The pastry program is coordinated by Caitlin Williams Freeman, formerly of Miette Patisserie and Confiserie; my favorite of her creations is the Coffee Cake, made with Magnolia stout. Sized for one, they're tender-crumbed and deeply flavored, malty and rich; they're studded with oats and currants, but the caraway seed struesel is what you really can't stop thinking about. —Carey Jones