For 34 years, the downtown San Luis Obispo Farmer's Market has become a wildly popular Thursday night destination. Offering a bounty of produce, hot food, and artisan vendors, the market can be a lot to take in.

I love to go as much as I can-- always trying something new for dinner. What I have found is that some things at the market can be a hit, while others are a miss. As a third year at Cal Poly, I've come to learn which spots are my favorite, and which I can live without. There is no need to have that overwhelming sensation next time you visit because you will have my top picks for spots to visit and things to try! 

New to the Market: SONG's Korean Tacos

Madelyn Gagnon

SONG is a Central Coast food truck new to the San Luis Obispo Farmer's Market scene. They're creating some gourmet Southeast Asian street food, like these delicious Korean Tacos. The tacos include melt in your mouth slow cooked pork, sweet and spicy kimchi bbq sauce, and a tangy cucumber and cabbage slaw. Keep your eye out for this cool new food vendor next time you're visiting the market. 

Feeling Jammy: Mama's Preserves Jalapeño Jam

Mama's Preserves is a staple at the SLO Farmer's Market. The company was started 15 years ago by Lori Heal. At that time, they produced just two jams, and she now produces up to 20 different flavors.

If you're looking for a jam with a spicy twist , I recommend trying their various jalapeño jams. Every week they sample a new one, but these include strawberry, guava, apricot, and raspberry to name a few. They also make some delicious classic jams. I recommend putting one of their spicy jams ontop of softened cream cheese to make a great spread for crackers.

BBQ Craving: F. McLintock's Pulled Pork Sandwich

The San Luis Obispo Farmer's Market has numerous barbecue vendors to choose from. If you're a barbecue lover like me, you want a good price and hearty portion to munch on while exploring the market. F. McLintocks serves up a saucy pulled pork sandwich, piled high with meat, that really satisfies the craving. It helps to explain the long line that is constantly around their grill. If you're patient, this sandwich is definitely worth the wait. 

Artisan Product: Grateful Ghee 

If you're looking for a cool product new to try, Grateful Ghee is serving up this artisanal clarified butter with some unique flavor twists. Their flavors include Honey Coconut, Rosemary Garlic, and now Cayenne ghee, using organic grass-fed butter. If you're a person who loves to cook, their ghee is perfect for experimenting with different dishes. They offer some tasty samples and have the cutest packaging. 

Honey: The California Bee Company

If you're a big honey consumer like my dad, you'll love that The California Bee Company is using some unusual flowers to make their different styles. I love their signature black sage honey (which you can also get in honey sticks) but they also feature an artichoke flower, oak, and raspberry blossom to name some of the more unique flavors. They're local from the Central Coast, and pride themselves on their honey being unfiltered and unprocessed with pure flavor. 

Gourmet Bite: Novo's Ahi Nachos

Novo is probably one of the most popular restaurants in San Luis Obispo! If you don't have the time or budget to go have a meal there, visiting their Farmer's Market food stand is the next best thing. They feature dishes with the eclectic twist they're known. Some of my favorite dishes include their ahi nachos and Thai green chicken curry. Novo brings gourmet international flavors to the casual setting of the farmers market and they don't disappoint. 

Fresh Woodfired Pizza: Giuseppe's 

Madelyn Gagnon

Giuseppe's sets up shop on Higuera and Chorro St with their big woodburning pizza oven. They're creating some hot gourmet pies at super affordable prices. I recommend their classic cheese pizza with their house-made sausage, but they have a whole menu of delicious pizzas to choose from. Don't let the simplicity of these pizzas steer you away because these are one of my favorite eats at the market. 

International Treat: Lotus Asia's Best Okonomiyaki

Madelyn Gagnon

If you're looking to try something new, and slightly eccentric, look no farther than Lotus Asia's Best's booth. They're serving up some classic stir fry's and noodle dishes, but nothing stands out as much as this okonomiyaki. It's a cabbage pancake covered with your choice of meat, green onions, furikake, seaweed, spices, and loads of sauce. For me, it was a little intense, mixing both sweet and savory flavors. But if you're a daring foodie, this is the dish to try. 

Artist to Look Out For: Terry the Caricature Man 

Madelyn Gagnon

Terry, the man creating some crazy caricatures, has been at the San Luis Obispo Farmer's Market for as long as I can remember. In fact, he did my caricature back when I was just 11 and visiting this farmers market for the first time. He has an out of this world personality and is so talented with his charcoal pencils-- if you're lucky enough to catch him on a weekend while he's there. He does each face for ten dollars, which is a steal for a keepsake as nice as this. 

Seeking Culinary Inspiration? SLO Farmer's Market Cookbook

After you've visited the SLO Farmer's Market, and bought all of your beautiful seasonal fruits, vegetables, and other goodies, you may be wondering what to create with it all? This book is hands down, gorgeous. I loved it so much when it first came out, that I bought my Mom a copy for the holidays. This book started as a Kickstarter campaign which raised $26,714 for the author Kendra Aronson to turn this book into a reality. The photography and recipes--60 the be exact--are beautiful, and the book has so many great ideas for things to do with your market finds. It also highlights stories of some of the farmers and artisans that the SLO Farmer's Market is famous for

Next time you decide to spend your Thursday evening at the San Luis Obispo Farmer's Market, don't feel overwhelmed by the multitude of vendors. You can't go wrong with these different dishes, or with these products from local artisans. So go enjoy the different bites and sights this amazing market has to offer!