There were still the dim lights and warehouse-like space. There were still the small vendors, some known but more unknown, pushing their pre-made goods. And there were the crowds looking for a fun Friday night in San Francisco.

Not much has changed for the Underground Market by forage SF except maybe the absence of the crazy lines that met each market when it was at its peak of popularity two years ago. Oh, and after some run-ins with the city and a year’s absence, the Underground Market has apparently gone legal and lost its renegade reputation of being a “private” monthly market.

I dropped in on this month’s Underground Market on Friday night at the Public Works space in the Mission. Instead of having to pre-register as a member for entry, you just pay $5 admission. Inside, there were fewer vendors (I’m guessing fewer than 20) serving up a variety of pre-packaged goods and hot items to eat right then and there.

What was nice about the Public Works space was that there were two large bar areas, which added to the Friday night festivities. I got there on the early side, so didn’t have to deal with any lines or packed area. But it does feel that the Underground Market is just wading into the waters as it makes a return, just starting out with a smaller version of its former self.

Still, the spirit of the Underground Market is a great one to support as it showcases first-time small businesses using the market to test their wares and build a fan base. And now doing it in a market that can officially promote its purpose.

There was a bar on each floor of the Underground Market, adding to the Friday night party vibe.

Chickpea flatbread with jalapeno from Grease Box of Oakland. Making the fresh flatbread (left) and the finished product (along with a sidecar in the background).

Topping a funnel cake with bacon

Pluot compote on English muffins from 197/Rogue Cafe

Beer cheese from Strong Cheese (left) was one of the unusual items for sale at the Underground Market

Jars of duck rillettes from Wooden Spoons


The salsa verde chili at this vendor tasted great with chunky meat, but I paid $4 for what amounted to be the size of a shot glass. I think some of these new vendors have pricing to figure out.

Pastrami sandwiches ready for the crowd

Grilled cheese sandwiches being prepared (see how they used aluminum covered bricks to press their sandwiches?)

Mochi from Simply Mochi, who’s a regular at the local pop-up scene. I got her lemon and haupia (coconut) mochi. The mochi was super fresh and soft, and I love the lemon curd but the coconut didn’t remind me at all of the haupia from Hawaii. (It needed more coconut flavor.)

7 Responses to Underground Market Makes a Comeback

  1. Row says:

    I really like the black-and-white photos, Ben! It highlights the more subtle aspects, like the steam coming off that pot of chili.

  2. Dave Nguyen says:

    I like the bw for this setting. It adds that edgy appeal…

  3. Foodhoe says:

    I’ve still never been to this although I joined the kickstart for ForageSF. One day. Did you try anything exciting? Where in the Mission is the public works site?

    • Ben Ben says:

      Public Works is off Mission at the beginning near South Van Ness and that jungle of off-ramps. It’s actually a small space but it helped to have two stories, and they had some seats outside.

  4. Carolyn Jung says:

    Ooh, nice change of pace with the b/w. Plus, it gives that whole food scene a timeless quality. 😉