Things are starting to heat up for summer and it can be hard to muster the motivation to cook at home. But you’ll find that motivation in spades at one of the many farmers’ markets that pop up weekly around the East Bay; if you can walk through one without picking up enough produce for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow, then maybe you’re just not stopping and smelling the flowers (or squeezing the avocados) often enough.
If you’re new to the area or you’re looking for a new market to frequent, we’ve got you covered! Here are our favorite farmers’ markets in the East Bay, and there’s bound to be one in your neck of the woods.
1. Grand Lake Farmers Market
Open: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays
We’re definitely not the first to have discovered this farmers’ market (the crowds and lines are evidence) so if you want to do all your shopping here, it’s best to head over early — but if you just want to grab a snack and people-watch, then anytime will do. You’ll find all the usual suspects (in terms of fruits and vegetables) at the Grand Lake Farmers Market, but this market has so much more than produce. If you’re in the area and don’t know where to eat lunch, look no further; the market has a ton of lunch stands where you can grab a waffle, a sandwich, a pie, or many other options for a midday snack, then hang out and listen to some live music. And of course, you’ll find a ton of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to stock up on for your weekly shopping trip on top of the meats, cheeses, nuts, baked goods, and other items to round out your pantry.
2. Temescal Farmers’ Market
Open: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays
Located toward the middle of the Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt, you’ll almost certainly find a fruit or vegetable at this farmers’ market that you’ve never seen before, so it’s a good place to stroll while seeking mealtime inspiration. While you walk, you can sip on some Blue Bottle coffee and sniff out the Bakesale Betty’s stall (always a popular option), but save room for some treats from the boulangerie (Bay Bread Boulangerie), which is one of the more raved-about stalls at this market.
3. Downtown Berkeley Farmers’ Market
Open: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays
Fair warning: This is one of the more popular Saturday farmers’ markets, so you can expect to see a lot of people there, but the lines still move pretty quickly despite the crowds. All the food at this market is organic, and besides the fruit-and-veggie stands that are par for the course at East Bay farmers’ markets, you’ll also find a knife sharpener, tamales, vegan- and vegetarian-specific stands, and Three Twins ice cream, with all its unusual flavors in their summertime glory.
4. Jack London Square Farmers’ Market
Open: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays
Organized by the same farmers’ market experts who occupy the Ferry Building across the water, this is one of the most iconic markets in the area, and its convenient location (close to the ferry, BART, and Amtrak) makes it a popular stop for those who don’t want to deal with a parking headache. It’s also not the biggest market in the area, but it’s got all of the basics plus a few extras, making it a nice stop if you don’t want to wait in long lines or fight crowds to get the good produce. If you’re hanging out near lunchtime, don’t miss the fish tacos at Cholita Linda.
5. Old Oakland Farmers’ Market
Open: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays
So you need to get your groceries before the weekend starts? If you’ve got a morning or early afternoon to kill on Friday and a farmers’ market is calling your name, then the Old Oakland market is the best place to head. For fresh produce, eggs, fish, and flowers, it’s a must-visit; less packed and more spread out than some of the other weekend markets in the area. And you’ll also find some of the usual suspects here, including Roli Roti rotisserie chicken, but the prepared food tends to be a bit pricier, so consider this a heads-up to bring plenty of cash if you’re shopping on an empty stomach.
6. Montclair Village Farmers’ Market
Open: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays
This isn’t one of the biggest farmers’ markets in the East Bay, but it’s the perfect size for spending a morning — large enough to keep you well-occupied, not so giant that you’ll feel overwhelmed or like you might have missed something vital. And it’s also one of the few farmers’ markets in the area where you can reliably find raw oysters, so if that’s on the menu for the week or you just have a Sunday lunchtime hankering, then this is the place to find them (and stock up on the rest of your produce, dairy, and meats while you’re there!).
7. Alameda Farmers’ Market
Open: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays
When you live on an island, leaving it all the time can feel like a chore. The Alameda Farmers’ Market is right there for you every Tuesday and Saturday, though — and it’s a cute, quaint market that’s worth a trip from the mainland, too, especially if you’ve got a mid-week event coming up and you can’t wait until the weekend to stock up on fresh food. You’ll find live music and dance performances, the usual fresh-fruit-and-vegetable suspects, plus some interesting prepared food options, too, like locally made granola and lunchtime Indian dishes.
8. Berkeley Farmers’ Market
Open: 3-7 p.m. Thursdays
Sometimes you want organic produce, meat, and cheeses, but you don’t want to wake up early, and you don’t want to spend your weekend walking through a farmers’ market. That’s the perfect time to visit the farmers’ market in North Berkeley, which is also an excellent market for people-watching and just generally hanging out. There are almost always families lingering around the grass, and if you haven’t tried the preserves from Frog Hollow Farms, then it’s always nice to know where to find it: You can sample and buy it here.
9. Kensington Farmers’ Market
Open: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays
The Kensington market puts a premium on entertainment, so you’ll always hear excellent music as you’re browsing the wares. There are quite a few options for lunch — the Indian stall and the barbeque stall are two of the most popular — plus all the typical fruits and flowers, vegetables and meats, eggs and cheeses and fresh pastas that you’ll find at other farmers’ markets in the area. Families gather here on Sundays (so expect a lot of strollers), and it’s a cute, fun example of what a just-right-sized farmers’ market can be.
10. Millsmont Farmers’ Market
Open: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday
If you live near the market, then the fresh seafood and bakery at Millsmont are absolutely worth checking out. This is a smaller, more intimate market with less prepared food options than others in the area, but it’s got everything you need to prepare feasts for days — crisp, fresh produce, organic and locally grown — and you’ll still find some mainstays like live music, tamales, and coffee.
11. South Berkeley Farmers’ Market
Open: 2-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays
Berkeley sure does love its farmers’ markets — but they’re open on different days and times, so if you live nearby and want some fresh food, it’s definitely convenient. The South Berkeley market isn’t large, but some of the best farms in the area come here every Tuesday to offer their wares; you’ll find honey, yogurt, and tons of organic fruits and vegetables. It’s a little more sedate and less packed than other Berkeley markets, so if you want to spend some time actually talking to the farmers about what they’re selling, this is the place to be.
12. El Cerrito Plaza Farmers’ Market
Open: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays
Whether you go on a Tuesday or a Saturday, this is a market without all the crowds and lines of some of the bigger gatherings in the area — but with plenty of face-to-face time with the farmers who grow the food and every opportunity to buy truly seasonal, fresh produce. While you wander around and listen to live music, be sure to check out the cider and seafood stalls, two of the most popular and talked-about vendors at this market. Hudson Fish will even keep your order on ice for you while you shop so you can take it home while it’s still cold and fresh without missing anything at all.
Did we miss your favorite farmers’ market? Tell us about it in the comments!