5 Vendors Of Top Quality Foodstuffs In The Bay Area

The Bay Area is home to many enterprising businesses that specialize in several unique styles of edible creations. From original San Francisco favorites to innovative contemporary fare, the area is a center for culinary creativity. In no particular order, here are some noteworthy purveyors of gourmet goods within the iconic Northern California region.

Kicking off the list at #1, Sour Flour makes classic San Francisco sourdough bread, bagels, and pretzels out of La Victoria Bakery in the Mission. Founded in 2008, its first 1,000 loaves were given free to neighbors, collaborators, and anyone who expressed an interest in the business. The practice led to community participation in sourdough baking. To teach the craft, the company has since created its Bread Education workshops, as well as a series of baking courses.

Sour Flour's bread dough is made with organic wheat meal, water, salt, and a living starter culture. The higher grain content lends a darker color and fuller flavor. Meanwhile, both the pretzel and bagel dough are hand-rolled and feature a high-gluten variety that provides chew to the texture. The company's bread is available either as a baguette or as a roll, while the pretzels come twisted, rolled into sliders, or formed into loaves.

Next at #2 is Le Bread Xpress. Created by CEO Benoit Herve after immigrating to the US from France, the company runs automated micro-bakery stations that are the size of a standard vending machine. The devices combine existing vending technology with refrigeration and flash baking capabilities. With over 130 locations to choose from, customers may operate the machines to receive hot, fresh baguettes any time of the day or night.

In addition to its French baguettes, the company provides a selection of other on-demand goods through the innovative Bake Xpress machines. These stations offer a wide array of different baked pastries and meals, including croissants, pizza, quiche, gourmet sandwiches, and fresh pain au chocolat.

Entering the list at #3 is Bi-Rite. The 18th Street market was originally built in 1940, and features the building’s signature art deco facade and original glazed tiles. Bi-Rite has since expanded to include a cafe, catering service, and a creamery, as well as several more locations throughout the city. Market shelves are stocked with sustainable, farm-direct, and responsibly raised offerings.

The Bi-Rite cafe is an outdoor gathering space where guests may enjoy a quick meal, a sweet treat, or locally produced coffee amidst the backdrop of San Francisco's historic City Hall. Visitors are also encouraged to try Bi-Rite's specialty ice cream. Featuring unique flavors such as balsamic strawberry and tangerine, as well as seasonal blends like Masumoto peach, the creamery prepares each recipe with Double 8 Dairy buffalo milk. The crucial ingredient has a high butter fat content that produces a rich and creamy soft serve.

At #4, Mollie Stone's Markets claims to be a center for both necessity and passion shopping, working closely with local producers around the greater Bay Area to offer both specialty selections and conventional goods. The family-owned market carries all natural and organic produce, meats, and health and beauty products, along with many popular name-brand offerings.

Mollie Stone's Markets also partners with Instacart to provide a convenient grocery delivery service. In addition, the grocer runs a catering program for celebrations, meetings, food gifts, and holiday meals. Packages range from appetizers and charcuterie arrangements to boxed meals and lunches.

Lastly, at #5, The Barlow district is a 12-acre, outdoor marketplace in Sebastopol, where Sonoma County chefs, vintners, and artisans work side-by-side to create local crafts and interactive experiences. Visitors can observe makers producing goods in real time, from farm-to-table food to craft spirits. Home to a community of both purveyors and connoisseurs, The Barlow gives customers a glimpse of the artisan process.

Guests may walk the industrial-designed campus, surrounded by organic and edible agricultural landscaping, and find everything from pop-up eateries and craft workshops to trivia nights and music. Many specialty shops line the pedestrian walkway, such as the William Cofield Cheesemakers, which produces British-style cheese by hand, and the taproom at Crooked Goat Brewing.