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Old Oakland Farmer’s Market

Michael Babcock, Sunday, October 4th, 2009

One of our favorite markets anywhere is the Old Oakland Farmer’s Market held at 9th Street between Broadway and Clay in Oakland, California on Friday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Google Map of market) The market actually takes place in the shape of a t, with 9th Street being the longer stem and Washington Street (from 8th to 10th Streets) the cross.

Oakland Farmer's Market Vendor

Oakland Farmer's Market Vendor

It seems appropriate to have an entry on one of the Oakland / Berkeley Farmer’s Markets that we frequent, since we’ve blogged a couple times about one of our favorite markets in Thailand (Aw Taw Kaw (Or Tor Kor) Market in Bangkok and Pad Thai at Aw Taw Kaw (Or Tor Kor) Market), blogged about the Bangkok Chinatown Market as well as given some advice on Shopping at Asian Markets For Thai Ingredients.

Oakland Farmer's Market

Oakland Farmer's Market

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

The starting time of 8:00 a.m. is pretty flexible. For us, the main attraction of the market comes from the large number of ethnic Asian and hilltribe produce vendors selling various and interesting Asian produce. One would, however, expect certain specialty items to be available in season (things such as pea eggplants) and often they are not. The reason is that the market is a favorite shopping stop for Asian restaurants and markets. There’s one vendor who in September always brings a box of pea eggplants to the market. One Friday Kasma asked him how early they were sold: a market owner out in San Pablo had come by and bought everything he had at 5:00 a.m. in the morning!

Bitter Melon and Asian Eggplants

Bitter Melon and Asian Eggplants

Among the various items that you can find here (remember: all of the produce is seasonal) are live catfish, large bunches of holy or Thai basil for $1.00 a bunch, various and exotic Asian greens, boiled and raw peanuts, several kinds of chile peppers, Thai eggplants, long eggplants, two or three different varieties of bitter melon and more. There’s one vendor on Washington Street (between 8th and 9th Streets) who sells fresh duck eggs, quail eggs, and chicken and duck balut. Balut are eggs that have a partially formed chick inside, and these balut are so fresh that you could take them home and hatch them. There are various fruit vendors and two flower vendors with bunches of flowers at very reasonable prices. There are a few organic vendors but most of the produce is not organic. One of our favorite fruit vendors is Twin Girls Farms, whose fruit is priced very reasonably for organic fruit. When available, try their organic pomegranate juice – it’s really tasty.

All Star Tamale

All Star Tamale

When we go, we usually  get there by 8:00 a.m. and even earlier if there’s something (such as lemon basil) that we want to make sure hasn’t been all sold by the time we arrive. We’ll take care of the bulk of our shopping and then breakfast on a red pork or green pork Tamale from All Star Tamales, sold from a truck on 9th between Washington and Clay; that block of the market consists largely of prepared food vendors and jewelry stalls. Tamales are 2 for $5.00; make sure you open it at the stall and squeeze on plenty of hot sauce. There are tables set up at the intersection of 9th and Washington, where there’s always live music, for the most part guitar and vocal.

By the time we’re done with breakfast, it’s 9:00 a.m. and the markets in Chinatown are open so we can complete our shopping there.

The market is well worth a visit on a Friday morning.

Balut for Sale

Balut for Sale


One of Kasma’s students has posted some Oakland farmers market photos. You might enjoy checking out the Yelp Reviews of the market.


Written by Michael Babcock, October 2009.