Multiple growers sell mostly small- to medium-size berries. Look for ones with dark seeds, an indication of ripeness.
Craftsman and Wolves
This Mission bakery joined the Saturday market this spring. They bring a selection of easy-to-tote treats, like mini loaf cakes, pain de tomate (savory croissant filled with a confit of tomatoes, rosemary, and garlic), and, of course, the famed Rebel Within sausage and herb muffin with the runny poached egg in the middle. At mid-morning, when I'm tottering between a desire for something sweet or savory, I opt for the blueberry muffin with salted butter crumble ($3.75)—delicate crumb stained with purple splotches and plump berries, a butter crumble topping that finishes salty, and flecks of lemon zest for a hint of acidity.
Bella Vivia Orchards
If you’re a dried fruit junkie, Bella Viva is your dream dealer. This farm in the Central Valley grows massive stone fruits in the summer, and you’ll find a dried supply year-round. There are dapple dandy pluots, Betty Ann plums, white and yellow peaches and nectarines, California Blenhim apricots, persimmons, Bing and Rainer cherries, and even dried orange and lemon slices. They carry both sulfured and unsulfured options.
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
The grand poobah of summer fruit, with a stand that’s three times the size as everyone else’s. Here you’ll see the highest prices ($4.90/ pound) but several sensational and endangered varieties like Suncrest peaches, Flavor King pluots, and Fantasia nectarines. Find entire slices of these fruits crammed into jars of fabulous jams in flavor combinations like nectarine-plum, apricot-cherry, and plum-blueberry. The farm's super sweet fruit provides the majority of the sugar in all the conserves. Both the tart meyer lemon and naval orange marmalade are riddled with chewy strips of zest. Frog Hollow also runs a permanent cafe inside the Ferry Building, where they serve pastries filled with fruit from the farm as well as a couple breakfast and lunch times.
Zippy and crunchy, Farmhouse Culture's sauerkraut naturally ferments (translation: no vinegar) for four to six weeks. Try a pile of the Classic Caraway kraut on a wedge of rye from Acme Bread, which is located inside the Ferry Building.
Saint Benoît Creamery
In Sonoma County, brothers Benoît and David de Korsak craft French-style yogurts that are milder and thinner than their American counterparts. They also make yogurt cheese. It's spreadable like cream cheese but with the same flavor as the plain yogurt—a bit tart but without the sharpness of Greek styles.
While the chilaquiles are most popular, the fish tacos (when they have them) are remarkable ($9.50). Your tortillas begin as raw masa dough, shaped and pressed to order, then smacked on the portable flat top. Thick and tender without a vestige of rubberiness, they’re almost as good as the hulking fish fillets (species varies) fried in an absurdly light beer batter and so moist they melt. A tumble of cabbage conceals everything along with a healthy splotch of avocado lime mayo, lot of lime for squeezing, and salsa that kicks with chiles de arbol. Still in the mood for those chilaquiles ($9.50)? They’re pretty great too with thick chips that stay crisp under cover of red chile sauce, soft scrambled organic eggs, refried beans, cotija, sour cream, chopped onions, and avocado.
Hummus from Marin Gourmet
Dive into the lemon hummus, aubergine (roasted eggplant and garlic), olive walnut tapenade, lemon pita chips, falafel and more Middle Eastern spreads from the friendly folks behind Marin Gourmet.
Fruit Cheese is the deceptive name for this soft, molded fruit paste that's meant to be sliced and served with cheese. Owner and jam master June Taylor uses the same ripe Santa Rosa plums, apricots, strawberries, and other seasonal fruits for her fruit cheese as she does for her conserves. And do try her delicate candied citrus peels, ideal for garnishing puddings, pies, or straight-up snacking.
The fans that wind around this truck wait for one of two things: rotisserie chicken with a side of potatoes dripping in chicken juices, or porchetta. The glistening chickens look more tempting, but it's the porchetta that's totally worth $9.50. The deboned pork loin gets jammed with herbs and wrapped in a layer of belly, which keeps the meat succulent. The skin gets so crisp it's like a thick chip, while a jumble of arugula on springy ciabatta keeps things from getting too heavy.
Bodega Artisan Cheese
How fresh is the goat’s milk feta at Bodega Artisan Cheese? “I made it yesterday,” Javier Salmon, who co-owns the dairy with his brother Daniel, says to every single customer who approaches his stand. He also makes goat’s milk fromage blanc, which he blends with herbs and produce from his garden, like parsley and chives, basil, and serrano chiles. If Javier’s charm doesn’t sweeten you into a purchase, dip a spoon into his tub of natilla, a thick goat’s milk molasses caramel that's dark as a mahogany.
Cut that Cheese
Past Frog Hollow Farms and behind Mijita restaurant, you’ll discover Cheese Row. It's not the only spot for cheeses at the market, but it where's you'll find several producers clustered together. At Spring Hill, go with one of the spreadable quarks (the vanilla flavor is like a less-sweet cream cheese frosting). Get fresh curds at Achadinha Cheese Company, and then there's Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, who has won national awards for its intense and slightly sweet Original Blue cheese.
Flowers for Sale
Its not only about the food on Saturdays.
So many colors.
Downtown Bakery & Creamery
You know the Nabisco Fig Newtons that come in the yellow package? Picture one of those. Now quadruple the size, swap the cake for one that's a bazillion times cushier, and substitute the film of sugary filling for an intensely figgy puree. If the Newtons ($1.25) have already sold out (they always do), opt for one of the fruit crostatas ($4.75). Caramelized pastries with pretty fluted edges cradle juicy slices of seasonal fruit like nectarines, boysenberries, apricots, and cherries.
Petaluma’s favorite bread bakery runs out of croissants by noon, but you can still gnaw on plenty of crusty loaves prepared with natural starters and baked over wood in their brick oven.
These white, flattish peaches have been especially sweet this summer.
Turkey figs so sweet they burst their bottoms.
Flavored Sugars and Salts, Eatwell Farm
Check out the French gray sea salts emboldened with rosemary, lemon, or lavender, or the coarse organic sugars in flavors like rose geranium, lemon verbena, and a smoked chile sugar. That last one gives a spicy wallop to a cup of hot chocolate. (In San Francisco, we can drink hot chocolate in July).
The San Francisco Bay and Bridge Bridge provide the backdrop while you browse.