When the Loma Prieta earthquake quite literally shook the city to its core, destroying infrastructure and forever altering the face of San Francisco, this natural disaster also facilitated the creation of one of the city’s most beloved institutions.
Let’s take a walk down Embarcadero’s memory lane. The concourse of Embarcadero that we know and love today is the offshoot of a much uglier, much less celebrated freeway that lived its short existence as one of the city’s largest eye sores until it was removed in its entirety two years after Loma Prieta brought a large chunk of it crashing down. Now, the area where the Embarcadero Skyway once stood consists of shops and tourist attractions, clear views of the bay, and a food scene so extravagant it is almost overwhelming in scope.
The genesis of this Embarcadero food movement began when a group of farmers and local growers banded together and established a pop-up market. Only two other farmers markets existed in the city at this time, and they lacked the scope or pull that we now consider commonplace. By 1993, a petition made the market a regular occurrence.
The market’s popularity also served to inspire the overhaul of the Ferry Building’s marketplace interior that we know today. Before Cowgirl Creamery and Gott’s duked it out for the honor of your next meal, the interior of that iconic blue building was much less tasty. Over time, many of the chefs, food growers, and local artisans that drove the creation of the Embarcadero Market renovation have moved on to Brick & Mortar shops, storefronts, or stalls in the Ferry Building itself.
CUESA, the food-loving masterminds behind this decades-long project, turns 25 this year. And they’re throwing quite the rendezvous to make sure everyone feels the food love.
Coming together to celebrate the occasion are over 45 restaurants, including staples of the city and trendy new establishments. Our favorites on the list? Che Fico, Brown Sugar Kitchen, True Laurel, Nopa, and Slanted Door. Furthermore, twenty-five (one more time for the people in the back - TWENTY-FIVE) birthday cakes will be served to celebrate CUESA’s history and ongoing mission. As for who will be baking said cakes, well, only some of the best pastry chefs in the city (i.e. State Bird Provisions, b. patisserie, Craftsman & Wolves, and more).
A celebratory toast joined by Ferry Plaza Farmers Market founders, farmers, and local luminaries will be in effect as well. It’s no small matter the grass roots food revolution that Northern California specifically has been at the helm of for the past decades. To that, we’ll eat cake.
// Tickets available here for those who want to join in. Photography courtesy of CUESA.
Isabella Welch is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in history. Her writing has been featured in history journals, travel blogs, arts & culture magazines, and more. Director of Editorial & Creative Development at Bob Cut Mag, lover of stories and tinto de verano, she’s usually found wandering the Headlands.