By any measure, the Rail Yards Market got off to a fast start when it opened on May 4. From day one it was clear that interest in the market, from both vendors and customers, was strong and diverse. With art, music, crafts for sale, quirky services, such as bike and rug repair, and a circus-like vibe, it was obvious that this market has legs.
But food-wise, the jury was still out. There was a solid pod of food trucks in the parking lot, and inside there were a few scattered offerings of food and drink, but just a handful of farm stands. Ready-to-eat food was surely in this market’s cards, but it wasn’t clear to what extent the Rail Yards Market would become an actual farmers market. For that to happen, a critical mass of growers would have to commit their Sundays to making it work. And it wasn’t clear that the freak show scene, wonderful and energizing as it is, would provide enough of the kind of people who want to stuff a few radishes in their shoulder bags.
Six weeks later, the produce options have grown considerably—thanks in no small part to the season having progressed to the point that growers now have some things to sell. I saw the stands of farms that I didn’t know existed, as well as some familiar faces I’d seen at other markets. The radishes were still out in force, as were greens, with apricots and cherries making debuts. I picked up some nice calabacitas from South Valley Organic Acres and some shelling peas and beets from Los Jardines Institute Farm and Community Center, also of the South Valley.
Six weeks later, the produce options have grown considerably—thanks in no small part to the season having progressed to the point that growers now have some things to sell. I saw the stands of farms that I didn’t know existed, as well as some familiar faces I’d seen at other markets. The radishes were still out in force, as were greens, with apricots and cherries making debuts.
When a hunched, white-haired woman who looked dressed for church asked me where I got my beets, I knew that the farmers market gods had descended for real upon this old machine shop.
The food trucks—most recently Boiler Monkey, Quetzalcoatl, Irrational Pie, Gauchito and Street Food Institute—were there in force from day one, but inside, the value-added food products are gaining strength. A moist carrot muffin from Bosque Baking Company was quickly devoured by my kids. More surprisingly, the vegan salad wrap made by Taste of Raw quickly vanished too. Although the wrap was a bit messy once the rice paper breached, the blend of cabbage, green onions, jalapeños, carrots and other veggies worked well, especially with the nutty date-based sauce.
Things like carrot muffins and veggie wraps can be made with local veggies when they’re in season, and at a place like Rail Yards Market, you can expect that many of these foods will be. There were also artisan edibles made with non-local ingredients as well, and that was OK. The blood orange sorbet made by Van Rixel Bros. (the folks behind the Chocolate Cartel) is highly recommended. Alas, they were out of the chocolate salt caramel gelato, or I would have totally hit that.
The item in everyone’s hands was the piña loca, a hollowed out pineapple filled with pineapple chunks and seasoned with red chile and a sour Mexican sauce called chamoy. Sold by an outfit called Guaraguao Snow Cone, it was served with a spoon and an umbrella toothpick, and they were highly visible. More people asked me where I got my piña loca than the beets, that’s for sure.
Whatever you’re hankering for, the Rail Yards Market probably has you covered. As with summertime farmers markets, if you’re there for the produce more than the scene, it pays to get in and out early before the heat.