Ferry Building Marketplace – San Francisco

The Ferry Building is a beautiful historic building located on The Embarcadero, built 122 years ago. In fact, it served as San Francisco’s main port of entry until the Bay Bridge was built in 1936. Far from being obsolete, it still actively serves as a ferry terminal. However, much of the space has since been re-purposed to house food shops.

On Saturday morning we dropped by the Ferry Building, the marketplace was bustling with activity. There were so many things to see, do, photograph and eat, especially given that a bustling farmer’s market also operates on Saturdays. One of the highlights of the road trip, quite honestly.

Champagne grapes

As we got off the BART, we were immediately greeted by a string of market stalls facing the Embarcadero, with street vendors busy jostling for customers. Particularly memorable was the vendor selling a variety of grapes, giving out hefty samples of champagne grapes and demonstrating how to properly enjoy their champagne-like quality. The way he put it, the entire bunch is put into the mouth and they’re supposed to burst on the tongue as the stem is pulled out of one’s mouth. Absolutely delicious.

So many fresh fruits and of varieties not typically found at the supermarket. Seriously a sampler’s heaven.
Flower stand. I’ve never seen such large dahlia blooms.
This Corgie actually smiled for my camera.
Gamja fries with bulgogi (grilled beef, Korean-style).

At the back of the Building were more food stands and fruit stands. A stand that caught my attention was Namu (streetfood.namusf.com), which was making brisk business serving Korean fusion dishes. I ordered the gamja fries with chicken, essentially Namu’s version of the French Canadian poutine, replete with gochujang and kimchi, green onions and teriyaki sauce.

Gamja fries with chicken

Unfortunately, the person got my order wrong and gave us the set of fries with beef. We quickly realized the mistake. They graciously apologized and gave us the set with chicken. Grilled protein and fried starch in a menagerie of opposing flavors, from kimchi to Kewpie mayo? A+. Seriously.

The Ferry Building was packed on the Saturday we went.
El Porteño Empanadas’s menu.

We paid a visit to El Porteño (elportenosf.com), a popular shop specializing in Argentine empanadas. It was quite a feat locating this place, because El Porteno’s is essentially a small stand at one of the Ferry Building’s several entrances.

El Porteño’s empanadas were buttery, hot and delicious. My only gripe? $4 apiece.

The Ferry Building’s lovely clocktower.
More crowds.

We also sought to get our coffee fix at the Blue Bottle shop there, but were disillusioned by the long line and quickly forfeited our place in the line. Just ridiculous.

Ferry Building Marketplace
1 Ferry Bldg Marketplace #50
San Francisco, CA 94111


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