One of my absolute favorite summer activities is going out to an outdoor market. I love the opportunity to try so many foods in one spot and spend time with my friends. I know that going to a market for the first time can be intimidating, so here are my top tips!
1. Know the venue
This may seem like a no brainer, but there are many details you should know. Research the weather so you know what to wear. If you live in the Bay Area, my advice is layers! Another important thing is to know where to park if you are driving. The last thing you want is to post-pone your picnic looking for a parking spot. If accessible, public transit is best because you will not need to worry about parking at all.
This photo is from Davis Farmer's Market where I prefer to lay out a blanket to sit.
2. Pack your essentials
There are a few things you should certainly bring to every food market. First is money; I recommend bringing both cash and card. Food trucks and stalls can be very inconsistent in payment methods. I have seen cash only, credit only, and even ones that accept Venmo. Another thing you want to make sure you pack is a picnic blanket. This is useful if the venue is a lawn so you can sit on it or if it has picnic tables, you could use it for a table cloth. If it is a hot day, you should also bring some sunglasses and sun screen. The last thing I advise is bringing your own reusable water bottle. Plastic water bottles are not only expensive but also are such a waste.
San Francisco can get chilly, so in this case, the more blankets the better!
3. Scout the scene
One of the reasons food markets are so popular is the wide available variety from all of the trucks, stalls, and carts. Due to my dietary restrictions, I usually try to see if the vendors are listed online so I can make sure that there are options for me. When you arrive at the market it can be overwhelming and you may be tempted to buy the first dish you see, but I recommend taking a full lap around the site so you can take in all of the options. Take note of what you want and circle back!
4. Grab your grub
Once you know what you want, it is time to buy! If you are with a group, I advise you divide an conquer in order to beat the lines. One person can get entrees, one person can grab drinks, and one person can handle dessert. I always try to hit up more than one place in order to take full advantage of all the options!
As you munch down on your food, enjoy all the market has to offer. Lots of markets have live music which is always my favorite because I love to dance. Maybe check out any local artists who are there or play some corn hole. Food markets offer more than a restaurant experience because there is space for food to integrate with art and community.
Smorgasburg (Prospect Park)
Davis Farmer's Market