The overlooked Farmer’s Market – Jack London Square

The Jack London Square Farmer’s Market is an interesting beast. It’s got all the elements of a good farmers market, good location (for those of us who live in downtown Oakland), good vendors, and a decent variety but it’s really hampered by the layout. And let’s face it, Jack London Square itself feels a bit soulless. Neighborhood aside, it’s a real gem and its Sunday gathering time makes it a good step ahead of Old Oakland’s weekday hours.

Convenience –4.5 (for me)

This is a great 15 minute walk for me as long as I am not buying a gallon of apple cider (not these days). While it’s about eight blocks away from the BART station, there is cheap underground parking. I do think that people forget about Jack London Square because its past the freeway and there doesn’t seem to been much pedestrian traffic.

Vibe – 3

Ok. Let’s admit that Jack London Square is an outdoor galleria. On a sunny day, being near the water makes up for that but otherwise meh. Unlike Old Oakland or Ferry plaza there’s no coffee shops to sit down and get something. With a few exceptions, the vendors are pretty businesslike. They aren’t particularly interested in chatting you up or even talking about their produce. What keeps this from being a complete wash is the lettuce stall. When J and I have gone there, the stall has two really happy people who are overjoyed to be selling you salad greens. I would also add the smoked fish guy is awesome too but his stuff is expensive.

Produce – 3.5

The variety of products is pretty standard. Nothing you wouldn’t get at the supermarket of Whole Foods. Unlike Alemany or Old Oakland, there isn’t a particular ethnic focus. I can best compare it to the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market in DC.

Prepared Foods –4

There is a great variety of prepared foods. They are definitely on the heartier side of things with sausage vendors, Mexican taco stalls and the roasted chicken folks. One thing I miss here that Ferry Plaza has is the stall salmon tartine vendor. That’s some good eating, fresh, light and filling.

Flowers –2

I don’t even know if there are flower vendors at Jack London Square. So what does that say?

Total: 17 out of 25

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