UTC Certified Farmers Market
The UTC Farmers Market is smaller than most, but don’t let that deceive you. It’s still larger than ours on campus, and although it hosts some of the same vendors, many others make the drive worth your while.
Held every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., it’s perfect for picking up ingredients for cooking a fresh dinner or, even more conveniently, picking up a meal from the numerous food vendors. Produce stands make it easy to find fresh seasonal picks, and a variety of food vendors will satisfy most palettes. A crowd favorite is Poppa’s Fresh Fish Company, whose fish is fresh, never frozen and is locally sourced. Check out their $5 tub of shrimp ceviche that’s made on-site and their happy hour special from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., when freshly shucked oysters are sold for only $1.25. Craving a fish taco fix? Try Casanova Fish Tacos, served grilled or fried for $7 with chips. For those who want something more exotic, Egyptian Oasis makes gyros and falafel, and there is also an Indian food booth that sells a variety of curries. For those who like their meals juiced, GreenFix Organic Smoothie can blend together uber-healthy ingredients, like greens, fruit, apple juice and flax seed. No meal is complete without dessert, and Cakey Pops whips up classics, like red velvet, as well as flavors as unusual as green tea.
Check out the unique subscription program provided by Community Supported Agriculture, with which subscribers can get a prepackaged box of fresh, seasonal produce every week from the UTC Farmers Market staff farms. For $15 per week, a box feeds two to three people, whereas a $25-per-week box feeds four to six. Although it’s a 12-week commitment with a $30 down payment, the produce is organic, and the money supports local farmers.
— Jean Lee
Little Italy Farmers Market
The Little Italy “Mercato” in downtown San Diego is a hidden weekend gem. Every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., over 150 booths line Date Street from Kettner Boulevard to Front Street with the finest produce, cheese, meat, plants and homemade goods, in addition to jewelry, antiques and live musical performances. The Mercato is a lot like other farmers markets in San Diego, but there’s something to be said about getting out of La Jolla and seeing a new version of an old favorite activity.
The organizers of the farmer’s market stay true to the historically colorful neighborhood of Little Italy by adding some culture to an otherwise normal Saturday for attendees. The Mercato offers a number of artisan foods and produce that are incredibly fresh and ideal for same-day cooking for a Sunday brunch or dinner.
Although Little Italy is a bit out of the way for UCSD students, the MTS Route 30 bus travels directly from La Jolla to downtown San Diego, which makes the trip easy and cuts out the hassle of finding parking. The Mercato makes for a nice change of pace from local farmers markets, like the UTC Farmers Market or the La Jolla Open Aire Market. The Mercato began operating in June 2008 and today attracts upwards of 3,500 attendees each week, making it one of the most popular farmers markets in San Diego County.
— Laira Martin
La Jolla Open Aire Market
If you want to get a sense of the people and culture of La Jolla, the La Jolla Open Aire Market — otherwise known as the La Jolla Farmer’s Market — is a must-visit. Every Sunday morning, the upper playground at La Jolla Elementary School is transformed into a colorful, friendly and wholesome farmer’s market. In the middle of downtown La Jolla, San Diegans and visitors can enjoy their weekend mornings with fun and flavor.
La Jolla Open Aire Market is a decent-sized farmers market that is smaller than the Little Italy Mercato but larger than the farmers market at UTC. Akin to a miniature street fair, nearly 130 vendors participate to provide shoppers with fresh, locally grown produce, diverse food court for lunch, interesting and creative artisans, live music and handcrafted gifts.
Many vegetables are in season right now — strawberries and tangerines are especially great at this time of the year. If you are determined and patient enough, join the crowds making a beeline for the savory crepes at Crepes Up and the sweet cookies at The Cravory to make your tummy happy while you walk around the market. Just in case you’re wandering around town with a pup, be forewarned: Dogs are not permitted in the market.
Here are a few tips to get the best out of your Sunday morning: Go before 10 a.m. not only to beat the crowd, but also to get the best items before vendors run out. Hunt around for better deals on organic produce and enter to win a $75 gift card to Girard Avenue Collection (no purchase is needed). “Valet” your dogs over to Girard Street, where there’s a great dog sitter; do not valet park your car for $5 — park on Herschel Avenue or Pearl Street for free instead.
La Jolla Open Aire Market is different than other farmers markets in that it’s part of the fundraising group Friends of La Jolla Elementary, Inc., which means that all proceeds benefit the children of La Jolla Elementary School.
— Ashley Kwon
Associate Lifestyle Editor