1. FERRY PLAZA FARMERS MARKET San Francisco, California
Not too far from the epicenter of the organic food movement popularized by renowned chef, food activist and writer Alice Waters, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market has a seemingly endless offering of organic fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese and prepared foods from over 80 Bay Area producers. While the farmers market is open three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday), the Ferry Building Marketplace, open daily, is a destination in its own right. Must Try: Ethereal beignets from Boulettes Larder, burnt caramel hazelnuts from Recchiuti Confections, and almond brittle with dark chocolate from Alfieri Farms.
2. MERCADO DE LA MERCED Mexico City, Mexico
The largest market in Mexico City, La Merced sprawls across four city blocks and offers an boundless bounty of Mexico’s finest provisions from over 3,000 vendors, including dozens of dries and fresh chiles, moles, Oaxacan cheese, nopals (cactus paddles) and avocados. Pick up the freshest ingredients for this unforgettable guacamole. Must Try: Rich, spicy, fragrant Mexican vanilla, and homemade grilled masa cakes.
3. LA BOQUERIA Barcelona, Spain
Dating back to 1217, La Boqueria is one of the oldest, and arguably finest, markets in Europe. With a dizzying array of produce, meat, seafood, cheese, olives, spices and much more, you could easily spend a whole day here, winding down with a glass of cava and tapas at Bar Pinotxo. Or book a class at La Boqueria’s cooking school. Must try: Iberico ham, manchego cheese, and one of the myriad brightly-colored fruit popsicles.
4. TSUKIJI FISH MARKET Tokyo, Japan
The main attraction at Tsukiji Fish Market is the early morning tuna auction, where visitors (capped at 120 a day) line up at 5:00 a.m. to observe the spectacle. Must try: Incomparably fresh sushi and sashimi at Daiwa Sushi.
5. COURS SALEYA Nice, France
Nestled among picturesque buildings and mere steps away from the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, Cours Saleya is one of the most beautiful markets in France. Although largely a flower market, you will find a generous offering of the freshest fruits and vegetables in Southern France, including the elusive and fragrant fraises des bois (wild strawberries). Must try: Sundried tomatoes and vanilla sea salt.
BONUS: WAIMEA TOWN MARKET Waimea, Hawaii
Undoubtedly the best little market you’ve probably never heard of, the Saturday Waimea Town Market is a relatively undiscovered gem nestled among the gently rolling hills of the upcountry. Over 30 vendors offer beautiful produce, meat and prepared foods from the Big Island — most produced within miles — including exotic items like lilikoi (passion fruit), ginger, coconut, papayas, and rambutans, which can be difficult to find as fresh stateside. And if all this wasn’t enough, the market is run on a volunteer basis and has raised over $150,000 in the last six years for Parker School. Must try: Macadamia nut tarts and pineapple and toasted coconut macadamia nuts from Ahualoa Farms
– Taste of Adventure