The trend that is currently taking the San Francisco food scene by storm? Upscale corner markets. In comparison to the bodegas in New York City, San Francisco’s small street stores have always lacked, but lately, a series of new food pioneers have decided to take the corner market to the next level. These places are stocking shelves with high-end local cheeses, baked goods, charcuterie, unique wines from all over the world, and housemade lamb salads and braised chicken legs with white wine, apples and onions. Want to fill your kitchen with the best of the local markets? Direct your shopping cart toward these five shops.
Bom Dia Market
In Noe Valley, on the quiet corner of Sanchez and 29th Street is Bom Dia, an intimate, but glossy new corner grocer. The shop is split into three sections: wine and beer; coffee and prepared foods; and groceries and household staples. Owner Shivani Ganguly believes that more San Franciscans are adopting the European style of food shopping which promotes the rise of the corner store. “People are shopping more frequently, so they can get fresher items in smaller amounts,” she says. Her selection of in-house items includes Mediterranean-inspired dishes like muhammara (a spicy sweet dip), za’tar roast chicken and bavette steak. There’s also buffalo milk gelato, Little Bee Baking goods, Earth Tu Face skincare, and a large selection of sparkling wines set up in the middle of the store on what Ganguly refers to as “Bubble Island.”
Equal parts shop and restaurant is Russian Hill’s new Union Larder. The industrial space with a wall of windows offers a wide assortment of cheese, wine and charcuterie plus all the accoutrements such as olives, pickled vegetables and fancy nuts. Many of the meats, like the coppa and bresaola, are cured in house while the cheese selection is curated by a former director of The Cheese School of San Francisco, Kristi Bachman. Pop in to purchase a bottle of wine and you’ll be enticed to grab a seat and a snack. If you’re hungry for more, order a hearty Red Hawk BLT topped with Cowgirl Creamery’s cheese and heirloom tomatoes.
Local Mission Market
The oldest of the new markets, Local Mission Market (LMM) opened in late 2013 on Harrison Street in the Mission District. With a wide expanse of windows and Mexican sage billowing in the wind out front, LMM isn’t your average grocery store. There are no aisles, but you will find dark wood accents and an open kitchen in the center of the space that feels like a stage. The assortment of food consists of favorite local purveyors (Rancho Gordo beans, Tcho chocolates), a variety of prepared items you can take home and cook (fresh bucatini, thick aioli) and scrumptious already-made dishes (lemon-chili flank steak). Everyday staples are also on hand, but only from organic, environmentally friendly producers.
On Market Street, underneath the Twitter offices, is newly opened The Market. This massive and modern space, which brings to mind a chic airport terminal, is home to a sprawling grocery store with every product imaginable — canned local tomatoes, duck confit and organic sushi rice. There are also storefronts, such as the first brick-and-mortar location of Farmgirl Flowers and an EO (Essential Oils) shop (natural, cruelty-free premium body goods). Plus, there’s plenty of space for a meal on site and lots of choices for ready-made cuisine, from Azalina’s Malaysian fare to Nuubia’s small-batch ice creams and fresh raw fish at the sushi and oyster bar. San Francisco favorites like 4505 Meats’ hot dogs and Blue Bottle Coffee are also available for purchase.
A couple blocks from The Market you’ll find The Hall, a destination with a similar mission to showcase only the finest food purveyors. There are six independent vendors inside, including The Whole Beast, chef John Fink’s excellent whole animal cookery establishment, and Raj & Singh, a curry company that makes authentic and delectable Indian dishes. The team behind The Hall also hopes to invigorate the surrounding neighborhood by creating a food community, which explains why the eclectic facility doubles as an event space that can be rented out for parties.