Bernal Heights Incubates Deliciousness at 331 Cortland Street

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The long awaited artisan food marketplace at 331 Cortland in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood opened quietly about a month ago. I finally had the chance to enjoy some of the vendor’s wares during a small open house celebration.

As discussed here before, 331 Cortland is a completely original business model. One that is rooted in the neighborhood and intended to be an incubator for small, talented food producers by giving them a chance to enter the market legally in a real store front, but without the risk (and cash outlay) of a stand alone shop.

The market also provides neighborhood residents with a unique selection of high quality, healthy foods available for pick-up. On both accounts, it looks like a winner.

The tiny railroad car shaped storefront is warm, bright, and welcoming with vendors situated on either side of a narrow walkway behind counters and refrigerated displays. The feeling is at once old fashioned and modern. Each vendor’s nook has its own look, feel, signage, and personality. It’s a loveable mishmash with an unplanned, old-timey sort of feeling.

The food, however, is thoroughly modern, healthy, and entirely unexpected. You won’t find the usual tasteless grocery store prepared pasta salads, or ho hum sandwiches, or really anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s like inventive street food invited indoors, with every vendor offering a unique selling proposition.

Wholesome Bakery and Sour Flour

Wholesome Bakery is an all vegan bakery that uses only the healthiest ingredients possible. In addition to being diary and egg free, all the baked goods are wheat free, soy free, yeast free, and the only sweetener used is raw organic agave syrup. (These goodies aren’t deliciousness free, however). On Thursdays and Saturdays you’ll find Sour Flour Bread, small-scale, wild fermented sourdough bread.

Ichi Lucky Cat Deli

Ichi specializes in sushi and other Japanese treats with a special eye to sustainability and inventive vegan options.

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Bernal Cutlery

Bernal Cutlery will sharpen your knives by hand, the proper way. “˜Nuff said.

Della Terra Organics Produce

Here you’ll find an attractively arranged array of fresh, seasonal, organic produce to take home for dinner tonight. It feels very European. You’ll also find pestos and other condiments made with the fresh produce.

Dezy’s Drinks

Put down that Coca Cola. At Dezy’s Drinks you’ll enjoy healthier and much tastier handmade drinks from local produce and herbs. Dezy also makes granola.

Paulie’s Pickling

Paulie’s serves pickles and a whole lot more. Like fab sandwiches with pickles, slaw, and fun condiments made from some of their special pickles or brines.

El Porteño Empanadas

I discovered El Porteño Empanadas at last year’s Eat Real Festival. They are the best ever, hands down! Don’t forget the Alfajores de Dulce de Leche.

Images courtesy of Kelly Kozak

Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.