To Market, To Market

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Tomatoes at Fort Street Market

Photo: David Croxford

3.  Fort Street Mall Farmers’ Market (*Independent)

*See an explanation of the types of markets.

You can buy fresh and local even in the heart of downtown Honolulu. This reliable standby, where you can grab a quick lunch and fixings for a healthy dinner, has long been a twice-weekly fixture on Fort Street Mall. It caters to the downtown crowd, so the market has evolved into a crossroads of convenience and good food. You’ll see it in ready-made offerings like the freshly baked croissant sandwiches from BaLe Bakery, and filled foccacias from Island Gourmet Bread.


Local papaya are a staple at the Fort Street Market.

Photo: David Croxford

Vendor rules are pretty relaxed, so you’ll find jewelry and other crafts along with edibles. Not all produce is grown here, but when it is, you’ll often see the word “local” on the cardboard produce label. There are also some pleasant surprises: the baked goods at Daphne’s Market, not advertised as local products, turn out to have been made less than three miles away.

The Fort Street Mall Market lasts most of the day, so you can go when you’re ready.

DON'T MISS: The healthy snack boxes of Yupin Bickel, who spends all night before a market day carefully preparing boxes of fork-ready local produce (chunks of pineapple, watermelon, mango, steamed kabocha or Okinawan sweet potato).
WHEN: Tuesdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
WHERE: Fort Street Mall, near Macy’s.
PARKING: For low-cost downtown parking, try the municipal lots at Harbor Court Plaza or Alii Place.

 

4.  The Waianae Farmers’ Market at Makaha Resort (*HFBF)

Inaugurated in June, the Waianae Farmers’ Market already looks at home in its monkeypod-shaded site. With oodles of free parking, reliably sunny weather and a strong community of Leeward-side farmers who take obvious pride in having an HFBF market on their home turf, we think this market is worth the drive.

There’s plenty of locally grown, organic produce. Organic vendor Ailani Gardens grows unusual veggies like tender baby leeks and bundles of Aztec spinach—all bound, not with wire, but with leaves. You’ll also find tall stacks of Spam musubi, tasty kalua pork sandwiches and sweet temptations from chic Sugar Rush by Frances catering. When we visited, the students of the Ai Pohaku Workshop (part of the Waianae Community Redevelopment Corp., a nonprofit group that also includes MAO Organic Farms) were giving demonstrations of traditional poi pounding. This market offers the best of Waianae: an authentic aloha spirit in a stunning natural environment.

DON'T MISS: In spring, summer, and early fall, look out for Mark Suiso of Makaha Mangoes. Suiso arrives with crates brimming with mango varieties, and can wax lyrical about them for hours.
WHEN: Every first and third Saturday, 7:30 to 11 a.m.
WHERE: Makaha Resort in M-akaha Valley (follow the signs).
PARKING: On site.

 

5.  Manoa Elementary School (*POM)

Small can be beautiful. This Zenlike People’s Open Market—and the dozens like it all over the city—may not have more than a handful of vendors, but when the horn sounds at the crack of dawn, customers are already waiting. If you’re walking to it at, say, 7 a.m., you’re likely to encounter a steady stream of cheerful neighbors who are already wending their way home with armfuls of fresh produce.

It’s a People’s Open Market, so the prices are eminently reasonable. There is a fresh selection of locally grown vegetables, targeted toward the community (for Manoa, that means burdock, kabocha and ong choi). The vendors know a lot about what they’re selling, and take time to get to know their regular customers, too. Stroll down to your local People’s Open Market, easy to reach and rewarding to visit: It might just become a weekly habit.

DON'T MISS: Antoku Farms. It has an unusual selection (we found pennyleaf, a type of edible hibiscus) and a friendly proprietor, who hands out printed recipes for his produce.
WHEN: Monday, 6:45 to 7:30 a.m.
WHERE: Manoa Valley Elementary School, upper parking lot (entrance off M-anoa Road) .
PARKING: On site.