At the historic Pearl Brewery building in San Antonio, Texas, there's a 1933 smokestack emblazoned with the word "Pride" (for Texas Pride beer). Although alcohol is no longer produced here, Pride seems an appropriate slogan for the farmers' market that now takes place in the old brewery's shadow. Local pride is abundant at the market, and it's amply justified by the array of high-quality seasonal produce, meat, and artisanal food available here every Saturday morning.
Started in 2009, the Pearl Farmers Market is part of the eco-friendly, mixed-use Pearl Brewery complex. On Saturdays year round (rain or shine), around 20-30 vendors set up shop behind the Full Goods Building, which was once the brewery warehouse. A recently revitalized stretch of the San Antonio River flows just steps away, and local bands add to the market's festive atmosphere.
All of the market's vendors come from within a 150-mile radius of San Antonio, and they are eager to share and discuss their products, which include seasonal and organic fruits and vegetables, herbs, grass-fed bison, lamb, and beef, farm-raised fish, free-range eggs, baked goods, olive oil, pecans, corn meal, honey, preserves, salsa, spices, and more. Our favorites include cheeses from San Antonio's Humble House Foods, olive products from Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard located south of San Antonio, and lavender products from the Hill Country's Imagine Lavender farm.
Although San Antonio has a handful of other farmers' markets, the location and number of vendors at Pearl make it a premier destination for local food lovers and tourists. (The Pearl complex also houses the Culinary Institute of America, Texas Farm to Table Café, and Chef Andrew Weissman's Il Sogno.) Pearl is the farmers' market that a large and culturally-rich city like San Antonio has always deserved, and its presence makes this writer, a native San Antonian, even more proud of her home town.
(Images: Emily Ho)