Spend a day at the Ferry Building
The Ferry Building’s Saturday Farmers’ Market is one of the nation’s most popular year round produce and specialty food destinations, yet its popularity often overshadows the historic building that houses it. In fact, the building is open every day and is a great place to visit and appreciate a piece of San Francisco architecture, and shop for gifts or dine at one of the building’s several restaurants.
Visiting the Ferry Building during off-market days affords a completely different experience — one that is only a couple blocks away from BART’s Embarcadero station. Without the crushing weekend crowds, visitors have a bit more room to wander, look around and treasure this architectural jewel.
(Just don’t forget your market bags regardless of the day you visit — even if you think you won’t be tempted, you will, so you might as well be prepared.)
With construction completed in 1898, the ferry terminal began welcoming visitors to San Francisco via waterways and the bay. The iconic clock tower, modeled after a 12th-century Spanish bell tower, still greets visitors today, as do the interior arches that highlight the halls that now house specialty food and gift purveyors and restaurants.
Though the space is still used as a thoroughfare for ferry passengers, it becomes tranquil during the mid-morning and post-lunch hours when you can get up close and personal with specialty shops like Heath Ceramics and The Gardener, sample some chocolate at Recchiuti Confections, cheese at Cowgirl Creamery, olive oil at Stonehouse, and stroll the aisles while deciding where to eat.
Besides traditional restaurants like MarketBar, Gott’s, and boulibar the Ferry Building hosts several casual eateries that offer grab-and-go meals so that you can sit inside or outside. Order a meatloaf sub at Prather Ranch’s American Eatery, a bento box at DELICA, or tamales at MIJITA.
If you filled up on samples and snacked on salami cones at Boccalone, you can always load your tote with provisions for the BART ride home. Sample some cooked black beans at Rancho Gordo and get tips on cooking their unusual varieties, pick out some meat at Golden Gate Meat Company, visit Farm Fresh To You or Far West Fungi for fresh produce, ask The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant for a bottle to go with your meal, and stop by Miette for a bite-size ending to the perfect San Francisco meal.
Don’t forget a single scoop of Humphry Slocombe Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee — it’s the perfect size to finish before you board your train back home.