Saturday, March 12, 2011

To Market, To Market!

Radishes in Hillcrest, my husband helping to display spearmint in Little Italy, and a pot of edibles, also in Lil' I.
One simple activity that brings me a lot of joy is visiting farmers' markets. The friendly hustle and bustle of people sampling new fruits and chatting with farmers about the difference between this kale and that, paninis being grilled, bouquets getting wrapped and dogs sniffing everything makes for a very heart-happy spectacle.

My greyhound, Ronan, is a big fan of the canine-friendly Ocean Beach street fair.
Giant proteas at the OB market. Me with my prized Thai basket-bag walking to the Hillcrest market this past Sunday.

San Diego is blessed with open-air markets in different neighborhoods every day of the week. (To see a schedule, click here.) I haven't been to them all -- there are 35 total -- but so far, my three favorites are Hillcrest on Sunday, Little Italy on Saturday and Ocean Beach on Wednesday. Read on for my scoring guides, as well as looks from three fashion queens whose unique styles best exemplify each market's atmosphere.

Hillcrest, for the hipster who likes to garden 'n gnosh 
With her arsenal of hipster-femme looks and a good eye for vintage, Rachel Bilson definitely belongs in Hillcrest. Incidentally, you can easily recreate all these outfits with pieces from Buffalo Exchange and Flashbacks -- both found in the 92103!
Hillcrest Market Pros: Terrific variety of ready-to-eat food including Saranya Thai (who catered our wedding), Greek gyros and falafel, Ethiopian meat dishes, French pastries, paninis, crepes, oyster shooters and lots of veggie and vegan options. There's a good selection of high-quality/low-price jewelry, accessories and body care products, that make for great birthday gifts. Fantastic people watching! Thanks to a thriving art scene and gay-friendly neighborhoods, Hillcrest is a mecca of creative fashion and liberal ideals.  Hence, a high vintage-dress-to-girl ratio and everyone brings their own canvas produce bags.

Hillcrest Market Cons: Parking can be difficult if you arrive during peak hours, and they don't allow dogs.

Little Italy, for the downtown gourmande
Rachel Zoe's sleek, lady-about-town looks fit well in the design-obsessed streets of Little Italy. (Plus, my blondie friend Aaryn lives there, and she has a hairstyle exactly like Zoe's.)
Little Italy Market Pros: More gourmet espresso carts than you can count and an overall heightened swank factor. Vendors have a good deal of space between them which makes the market less claustrophobic than others. Similar food selection as Hillcrest, but you'll also find a great fresh-made pasta booth featuring flavors like sun-dried tomato, pesto, lemongrass and mushroom. There's a good number of craft merchants selling fair-trade and eco-friendly goods including cloth satchels, Rwandan baskets and kitchenware from Seven Hopes United. Dogs of all shapes and sizes are welcome.

Little Italy Market Cons: Lacks a little of the hippy ease other markets enjoy.

Ocean Beach, for the bohemian in need of a sage fix
With her palette of international prints and relaxed gypsy-chic vibe, Nicole Richie's boho style fits right in at the OB street fair. She may, however, want to roll around in a little patchouli before going.
OB Market Pros: Are you a lover of humanity? If you don't mind being extra close and personal with cheerful folks of the tattoo and dreadlocks variety then you're in the right place. This market is flipped inside out, so the vendors are all in Newport Avenue while shoppers snake shoulder-to-shoulder down the sidewalks on either side. Add in the fact that one out of every four people is towing either a dog or an instrument and you have yourself quite the party. There's more than a few incense and glass-blowing booths, and you'll have no problem stocking up on yerba mate tea, granola, fresh ceviche, feather earrings, hula hoops and "OB Pride" tank tops -- which of course come in dog sizes. Plus they have llama rides!!

OB Market Cons: Can be a tad overwhelming what with the cramped walkways and plumes of sage smoke. After a loop around the block I suggest you retire to the boardwalk and watch the waves.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome blog! I live across the way from the Hillcrest market, it's great. I love the photo of Nicole Ritchie with her daughter, boy doesn't she looks exactly like her papa!