San Luis Obispo Downtown Farmer's Market

San Luis Obispo Downtown Farmer's Market


Not all farmers markets are created equal. Most are bucolic and quiet, held in a town square or park during a weekday afternoon or a sunny Saturday morning. There is a pleasant sameness to them all. But the San Luis Obispo Downtown Farmers’ Market is a one of a kind weekly shopping and social event. Four blocks of Higuera, the main street, are closed to traffic on Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. What emerges is an ultra popular, local block party, a weekly happening that spills onto side streets, fills restaurants and keeps the eclectic downtown shops open later than usual, their doors and windows beckoning to boutique treasures sporting sale prices. Local bands provide toe tapping entertainment reggae to rock to Cajun zydeco. There are puppet shows for the kids and balloon animals for them to take home.

There are, of course, the displays of local farm fresh bounty all along the street. In season fruits and vegetables abound in stunning variety. Vendors sell huge bouquets of sunflowers, bundled star gazer lilies and roses by the dozens in an artist’s palette of colors. Candles, clothing, nuts, pies, local olive oils, art pieces, and even “Pillow Pals” are for sale on the street. Current causes, political, religious and otherwise are represented by good natured zealots at tables covered by pamphlets, buttons and bumper-stickers.

The streets are filled with people of all ages and life stages: families, retirees, couples, groups of teens, and when Cal Poly and Cuesta College are in session, even more crowded with college students. You might even spot a celebrity or two. Zac Efron was born in San Luis Obispo and has family nearby in Arroyo Grande. Actors Josh Brolin and Diane Lane live on a ranch in nearby Templeton to the north. Harrison Ford has been seen ordering a slice of pie at Linn’s.

The real attraction of this weekly festival is the food. People flock to huge black grills set up in the street, drawn to the smoky aroma of Santa Maria-style barbequed steaks, tri-tip, ribs, chicken and pork served with rustic bread. The grills are manned by chefs from competing downtown barbeque spots. There are also tents set up by fantastic local restaurants. Until recently, the only seating was at the curb along Higuera or a side street. But diners can now carry their mouth watering selections to tables and chairs near the bottom of the street barricade.

There are other farmers’ markets in the area but nothing can top San Luis Obispo, where every Thursday night is cause for celebration.




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