If you read those ‘things you only know if you’re a parent’ listicles online, then you’ll have realized you’re not alone in feeling like a trip to the grocery store without the kids feels like a vacation. So we rounded up our favorite “vacation spots” in the Bay Area, perfect for when you have a bit more time on your hands or you’re after a hard-to-find ingredient. Explore the aisles, discover new brands, feel conscientious in your choices and maybe enjoy a glass of wine while you walk the aisles. And of course, with so many of these stores being family owned and run, they’re welcoming when you have little ones with you, too.
Photo Credit: Woodlands Market
Rainbow Grocery Cooperative
Originally started by a spiritual community in the 1970s, the Rainbow Grocery soon became secular, but has stayed loyal to its hippy roots. They aim to provide affordable vegetarian food products, including a great range of tofu and other meat substitutes. Proud to buy locally, they are ecologically and socially conscious, encouraging bicycling and alternative transportation to and from the store, practising daylight harvesting and donating to non-profit organizations and schools. These days they also sell a great selection of books, toys and bath and body products. Kids love the free samples, from cheese to olives to crunchy kale chips.
1745 Folsom St.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: 9 a.m.–9 p.m. every day
Gus’s Community Market
Now boasting three stores in San Francisco, Gus’s Community Market has been serving locals for thirty years. You can now take your pick between their Mission market, their Haight street location and their Noriega produce store. Have a coffee in their on-site cafe, sample some cheese from their extensive selection or try their freshly made sushi. There’s plenty of vegetarian fare, but they also offer house-made sausages, freshly ground chuck and seafood, delivered fresh six days a week. Their deli stocks an impressive selection of imported Italian meats and their sandwiches are available both for take-out and delivery.
2111 Harrison St.
San Francisco, Ca
1530 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
3821 Noriega St.
San Francisco, CA 94122
Hours: 7 a.m.–10 p.m. every day
Canyon Market brands itself an “urban hybrid market,” fusing traditional groceries with natural produce and specialty lines, all tailored to the specific needs of the neighborhood. Their local knowledge has given them an extremely loyal following of regulars who pop in for their groceries, wine tastings and to enjoy the outdoor seating area where dogs are welcome too. Their cheese selection is extremely well thought out, and their butcher Oscar will sort you out with the perfect cut of meat. Don’t miss out on the fresh baked pies!
2815 Diamond St.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: 7 a.m.–9 p.m. every day
Photo: Erin Feher
This sparkly new market is located on the ground floor of the Twitter building and offers all the perks you would expect. In addition to a specialty meat and fish counter, top-notch produce, and all the grocery picking you can imagine, there are plenty of options for eat-immediately deliciousness, from a sushi bar to a poke bowl counter to a taco shop. The lines between grocery store and all-around foodie heaven blur here, as you can now score pizza hot from the oven from Tony’s Slice House, freshly filled donuts from the Donut Dolly and power-packed smoothies from Project Juice. Need one more reason to do your shopping downtown? How about the dreamy #DrinkWhileYouShop program. Shoppers ages 21 and over can purchase a glass of signature beer or house red or white wine for $4 inside The Market and sip while you check off that grocery list. The carts even have cup holders!
1355 Market St.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: 8 a.m.–10 p.m. every day
Local Mission Market
Taking their name very seriously, this market is dedicated to everything local; nearly all of their products come from within 100 miles. Their emphasis on sustainability means that they take into account the resources needed to grow, pick and deliver, so you’ll never see blueberries in the winter, for example. You can check their weekly schedule on their website so you know when the next delivery of what you’re after can be expected. Also online is a great recipe platform designed specifically for ingredients in store. They don’t just specialise in sourcing though, in store you can find their house-made granola, pasta, crackers, jams, pickles, sausages, soups, marshmallows and more. They also hold demos on everything from cooking for kids to knife skills, all for the princely sum of $1 per person.
2670 Harrison St.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: 9 a.m.–9 p.m. every day
Photo Credit: Diablo Foods
Something of a local institution, Diablo Foods has been running since 1968 and is still a family affair. Many of the staff have been with the company for more than a decade, with founder Ed’s grandson now working as the store manager. For a small store they have an impressive range—expect over 200 cheeses and more than 50 types of mustard. Their ‘Grab n Go’ counter stocks ready to eat risotto, lasagna, raviolis, chicken pot pie, twice baked taters, steamed artichokes, marinated tri-tip and a legendary chicken soup which locals turn to during flu season.
3615 Mt. Diablo Blvd.
Hours: 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m. every day
Photo: Berkeley Bowl by josh s jackson via Flickr
Berkeley Bowl’s selection of produce needs little introduction; where else can you enjoy such choice? Choose from over 30 types of mushroom and bulk buy your favorite nuts in whatever form you fancy; salted, honeyed, candied, roasted, chillied, wasabied, you name it. They’ll go out of their way to serve you; just ask and their fish counter will call you when the Monterey sardines come in. Their aisle of Asian groceries and other world foods is a great resource, but speaking of aisles, a word of warning: BB shopping carts are wide and their aisles narrow, which when the store is busy gives it the feel of an obstacle course. Avoid rush hour.
2020 Oregon St.
Hours: Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Farmer Joe’s Marketplace
Little Joe’s and the larger New Joe’s sell all sorts of organic products, from produce to beauty supplies. They also stock harder to find produce like dinosaur kale, heirloom tomatoes, cippolini onions and cactus pears, while priding themselves on being willing to special order any item you request. The new store includes a deli with freshly made soups, sandwiches, rotisserie chicken and a sushi chef available to take personal orders, and you can enjoy gourmet coffee and smoothies in their bakery area.
3501 MacArthur Blvd.
Hours: Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–8 p.m.
Sat.–Sun. 9 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
3426 Fruitvale Ave,
Hours: 8:30am–8:30 p.m. every day
Siblings Sara, Tony and Peter Wilson wanted to create an alternative to weekly treks to the supermarket, so they teamed up and developed the Market Hall destination in Rockridge. Consisting of eight individual food and flower shops, the marketplace boasts a European-style bakery stocked with freshly baked croissants and focaccia. Market Hall Foods, formerly called The Pasta Shop, is still known for its handmade pasta, with stuffed ravioli, fresh sauces, soups and stocks also amongst its specialities. Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop stocks 100% grass fed, pasture raised, California local, organic and non-GMO meats. And of course there’s a coffee shop and bakery there if you want to stay awhile.
5655 College Avenue, Ste. 201
Hours: Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Alameda Natural Grocery
100% powered by renewable energy, Alameda Natural Grocery is all about the organic, from their chemical free personal care products to the honey bee hives on their rooftop. As well as 100% organic produce, special dietary goods and local brands, the store also incorporates The Pantry, stocking all the essential kitchen equipment from knives and cookware to water bottles and bento boxes. They offer knife sharpening by The Perfect Edge every first and third Wednesday of the month.
1650 Park St.
Hours: Mon.–Sat. 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
Photo Credit: Grand Fare Market
Grand Fare Market
This unique twist on the urban grocery store sees the marriage of a gourmet market and trendy dining area in Oakland. Their coffee bar serves an outdoor patio strung with fairy lights and cushioned with sheepskin rugs. Husband and wife team Doug Washington and Freya Prowe source quality products from local farms and producers as well as many artisanal products from Bay Area makers, while Freya runs the on site boutique flower stall herself. Do some shopping then relax in the sunshine with a coffee, fresh juice or glass of wine and indulge in some people watching.
Zanotto’s Family Market
Andrea, Rosa and their 13 children are responsible for the three generations of Zanottos running the store today. Along with Troy and Patty Tibbils who met in their youth working at Zanottos and are now partners in three of the store’s locations, the Zanottos have managed to keep the business family owned and operated since 1976. Staying true to their Italian heritage, Zanotto’s Family market stocks lots of Italian speciality products and serves up Italian style panninis that are famous throughout the South Bay.
1970 Naglee Ave.
San Jose, Ca
Hours: Mon.–Sat. 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–8 p.m.
Photo Credit: The Milk Pail
The Milk Pail Market
An open air market famous for its nostalgic glass bottles of milk, The Milk Pail is full of character. Their Dairy department is their pride and joy, with over three hundred varieties of cheese, including Italian reggiano, Danish fontina, French Morbier, Dutch gouda, Bulgarian feta, Swiss Tilsiter as well as local delicacies. Pair with their craft baked breads and New Zealand butter, and don’t forget to try their homemade peanut butter, free from any added sugar or salt.
2585 California St.
Mountain View Ca
Hours: 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–6 p.m.
The Willows Market
Branding itself ‘Silicon Valley’s Neighbourhood Grocery Store’, The Willows Market is as hip as you’d expect somewhere serving the tech industry to be. They stock hard to find old fashioned sodas and craft beers, with beer and spirit tastings on Thursdays from 4–7 p.m., and on Mondays from 4:30–8 p.m. the best food trucks from the Bay Area come to serve hungry shoppers outside the market.
60 Middlefield Rd.
Menlo Park, Ca
Hours: Mon.–Sun. 6 a.m.–midnight
Photo Credit: Draeger’s Market
Founded by Gustave Draeger in 1925 as “Draeger’s Delicatessen” in San Francisco, Draeger’s has transformed through the years to become the gourmet marketplace you see today. Still family owned and operated, three of the four locations host cooking schools and the San Mateo location also features the Viognier Restaurant. The fine dining is an accurate reflection of the grocery experience—if ‘fine shopping’ were a thing, it might look like this. Draeger’s gift baskets are the ultimate treat, and loyal customers travel far and wide for hard to find delicacies like Leonidas truffles and Bissinger’s chocolates.
222 East 4th Ave.
San Mateo, Ca
Hours: 7 a.m.–10 p.m. every day
Originally established as a butcher shop in the San Francisco Tenderloin District in 1889, Roberts Market can now be found in Woodside or Portola. Meat is obviously still their strong point, with bestselling prepackaged meals like corned beef, pot roast and herb chicken. The more adventurous might like to try their sushi, escargots and caviar.
3015 Woodside Rd.
Hours: 6:30 a.m.–8 p.m. every day
Another family business, Woodlands’ success is unsurprising given that its founders’ ancestors were running grocery stores in San Francisco as early as 1910. Cheese and wine fans will appreciate the Kentfield store’s specialities—with resident cheese monger, Octavia Saez de Ibarra a member of The American Cheese Society, he can offer expert advice on all things cheese while the store holds wine tastings every Friday 5–7 p.m. and Saturdays 4–6 p.m. The cafe serves up salmon lox scrambles, ratatouille omelettes, blueberry pancakes and eggs Benedict, as well as a children’s menu and vegetarian and gluten free options.
735 College Ave.
Hours: 7 a.m.–9 p.m.
Mollie Stone’s Markets
Mollie Stone’s was designed to be a blend of the best of both worlds, stocking both natural and organic produce alongside popular brand name products. The combination has been a grocery store success story, with the company now boasting nine branches, including one in Sausalito. Their determination to give back to the community is admirable, with $30k donated to local non profits to celebrate their 30th anniversary. They keep innovating too, with the Mollie Bus serving San Francisco stores and Mollieland childcare at the San Mateo store—a free, supervised play area for kids aged 2 to 12. Specialities include kosher, vegan, gluten free and world foods.
Did we miss your favorite grocery stores in the Bay Area? Share your recommendations in the comments below!