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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.
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.
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.
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.