The Ultimate Guide to San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace
As a San Francisco local, there are certain touristy places that I steer clear of. I admit I've gone to most of them when visitors have come to town, but I will be perfectly content if I never have to push through tourists at Fisherman's Wharf again.
Some places, however, are touristy because they are truly amazing and the word is out. For example, I live next to Alamo Square Park and snap a picture of the gorgeous painted ladies almost every week. I will never, ever get sick of Golden Gate Park and all that it has to offer. Cable cars are actually really fun to ride and a clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge takes my breath away every. single. time.
I'm writing this blog post to share a touristy place that I love even as a local, San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace. If you search for San Francisco's top experiences, you're sure to come across the Ferry Building Marketplace and read about the delicious food and cute local shops.
Whether you live in San Francisco or are only in town visiting, this post is the ultimate guide to San Francisco's Ferry Building. Taste the best cheese in San Francisco, slurp fresh oysters and sample the freshest fruit while looking out over the bay.
The Ferry Building opened in 1898 as a port for ferries to carry passengers from the East Bay to San Francisco. Until the 1930s, the Ferry Building was the second busiest transit terminal in the world!
The building is absolutely gorgeous both inside and out. There is a large clock tower that was modeled after the 12th-century Giralda bell tower in Sevilla, Spain. The building survived through both the 1906 (7.8 magnitude) and the 1989 (6.9 magnitude) earthquakes in the San Francisco area.
Today, you can still catch a ferry to Oakland, Larkspur, Alameda and Sausalito from the Ferry Building terminal.
The Ferry Building has a number of shops and restaurants that are open 7 days a week. Here are a few of my favorites!
The Best Coffee
The Ferry Building is the home of not one but two Blue Bottle Coffee stands. Blue Bottle is a local favorite and originated in Oakland, just across the San Francisco Bay. The founder vowed to never serve coffee that was more than 48 hours out of the roaster so you're sure to get the freshest cup.
The Best Cheese
This is not the first time I've raved about Cowgirl Creamery on the blog and the Ferry Building is lucky to have their very own Cowgirl cheese shop. Stop in for their famous Mt. Tam cheese any day of the week. If you visit on a Saturday, there is always a cheesemonger (employees who specialize in cheese) serving melted cheese with baquettes.
The Best Chocolate
Dandelion's Factory & Cafe is located in the mission neighborhood, but it recently opened a Kiosk in the Ferry Building! The mouthwatering chocolate from the kiosk is made as beans-to-bars and are made in small batches to ensure quality. They really are my favorite chocolate bars in San Francisco and the Ferry Building location now serves hot chocolate and pastries too!
The Best Market
Even if you can't visit the Farmer's Market on Saturday, Frog Hollow Farm has an incredible little market inside the Ferry Building and it's open 7 days a week. Frog Hollow Farm is located just east of San Francisco, so you know their produce is super fresh and it's all organic.
The Best Restaurant...s
Hog Island Oyster Company serves fresh oysters from Tomales Bay, just north of San Francisco. While they have a stand at the Farmer's Market on Saturday, they also have a restaurant inside the Ferry Building that's open every day.
The Slanted Door is a Vietnamese restaurant created in 1995 by Charles Phan, originally from Vietnam. The menu ranges from spring rolls and papaya salad to a variety of meat, seafood and vegetarian options. This restaurant is nationally acclaimed and generally requires advance reservations.
Saturday at the Market
Saturday is the best day to visit the Ferry Building because in addition to the shops that are open 7 days a week, it’s the location of the best farmer’s market in San Francisco. Visiting on a Saturday can be a bit overwhelming if it’s your first time, so I’ve curated a short itinerary to help you navigate.
First, walk around the front of the Ferry Building and sample any local fruits and veggies that you want to try. Last time I was there, they had the most delicious lemon cucumbers!
To the right of the main entrance, there will be a stand called Craftsman & Wolves. This is a bakery that has three locations in San Francisco, but hosts a pop-up from 8am - 2pm on Saturday at the Ferry Building. It is most well known for the most incredible pastry/muffin with a perfect soft-boiled egg inside called the Rebel Within. If you only sample one thing at the Ferry Building this should be it!
Head inside and explore the shops lining the mezzanine. The Ferry Building has beautiful architecture inside! This is also a great time to grab another snack and some coffee. I recommend Blue Bottle Coffee and some cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. If you’re feeling extra hungry, you can also get a cone of meat (yes!) at Boccalone Salumeria.
After your exploration inside, walk out the back and continue to sample the fresh fruit, vegetables, local honey and olive oil. Buy yourself some flowers because you deserve them!
Farther back you’ll find a few food stands including Hog Island Oyster Company. Their oysters are fresh from Tomales Bay, just north of San Francisco. Get in line and order a few, including the barbeque. Take them to the benches by the water and enjoy gorgeous views of the Bay Bridge.
If you’re feeling extra bold, there is usually a stand on the side of the building that sells bugs. They have everything from chocolate covered crickets to oven toasted mealworms. Yum!
How to get there
The San Francisco Ferry Building's address is One Ferry Building and is easily accessible by every form of public transportation. Here are a few options for getting there, regardless of which direction you're coming from.
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) has a stop just a block away from the Ferry Building called Embarcadero. This is a great option for those coming from Market Street/Union Square area or East Bay.
Muni is the name of San Francisco's city public transit and another great option to get to the Ferry Building. Use this trip planner to see if it works from your location.
The building has the name Ferry in it for a reason! The Ferry Building is a hub for Ferry's from Oakland, Larkspur, Alameda and Sausalito.
Lyft or Uber