In a new city and curious about what’s new on the local food scene? Ask a food writer or blogger based in the area. That’s what we did. Travel writer and blogger Elaine J. Masters of Trip Wellness, mentioned the food scene at Liberty Station. With a bit of research we discovered the Liberty Public Market one of the tenants huge complex. Filled with food stalls it sounded like our kind of place. We headed out to graze Liberty Public Market, located in the former Naval Training Center’s mess hall.
A bit about Liberty Station
Liberty Station, which started life in 1923 as the Naval Training Center San Diego, is now on the National Historic Register. Its Spanish Revival architecture sits regiment straight on block after block. It’s a mixed use development, covering 361 acres housing a variety of businesses including mega food stores Von’s and Trader Joe’s, a hardware store, a multi-plex cinema, chain and local restaurants, as well as an Arts District with museums, galleries and classes in art and dance. In addition, there is housing, some belonging to the military and some that has been commercially developed. It’s a city within the city.
Graze Liberty Public Market with us
Liberty Public Market follows in the footsteps of giants such as Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, New York City’s Essex Street Market and New Orleans’ French Market. The 22,000 square foot space, opened last March, hosts a variety of food vendors. It made Vogue’s Eating Your Way Through America’s Best Food Halls, a collection of market places that just went on our food to-visit list. Liberty Public Market offers food to eat on the spot or take away, provisions to take home and create your own meal and dining accessories such as flowers and candles. One of the market’s missions is to promote local growers and artisanal food producers. We visited three times, eating on-site and taking some provisions home.On our first visit we arrived hungry and began to graze Liberty Public Market to see what was on offer. Attracted by the aroma of their succulent roast meats we stopped at [ – roast – ], an eatery that had opened three days before. After tasting both the roast beef and porcheta, we went for the pork. What makes it so delicious? Pork belly is wrapped around a loin then covered with the pig skin and roasted until the skin is caramelized and crunchy. The meat is very salty. I’m not a salt lover, but here it works really well. The porchetta, from a heritage breed, made an incredibly delicious sandwich on a small baguette topped with provolone, salsa verde, broccolini and cracklins; the crispy skin cracklings took it over the top. You can also order just the meat which is sold by the half-pound. Sides include roasted potatoes and roasted root vegetables. We decided to bring home one of [ – roast – ]’s roast chickens for dinner. The juicy bird was perfectly cooked. The next day we made chicken salad for a beach picnic. We chatted a bit with owner, an enthusiastic young woman from Canada, who has big plans. Her next venture, she hopes, will be an outpost in San Diego’s Little Italy, which will have a huge rotisserie like they have in their original Victoria, BC location.
We tried empanadas from the Parana Empanada stall. It got a thumbs up from Steve, I was lukewarm about it. We were tempted by the raw bar at Fishbone Kitchen, which also sells fresh fish, but were full. As we walked by the Liberty Meat Market, a sandwich shop and old-timey butcher, we were seduced by the thick-cut pork chops in the butcher case. We went home with a one-pound chop which was more than ample for the two of us. Steve grilled it to perfection and then sliced it. I claimed the bone.
On our second visit we were on a mission to buy fresh pasta from Pasta Design where they sell fresh pasta and sauces. We bought some angel hair to take home. Our next stop was the meat shop where we got house-made sausage, one sweet and one hot for our home-made tomato sauce. We went back a third time on Sunday and the place, quiet during our weekday visits, was hopping. Besides what we tried, there are lots of other options including a place that does stuffed burgers, one that offer Maine lobster rolls, a taqueria, a sausage maker, a brewer, a wine purveyor/wine bar, bakeries and olive oil and vinegar stall. One place that caught our eyes was Pacific Provisions which offers their own BBQ sauces as well as small batch artisanal products.
If we lived in San Diego, we’d be regulars here. The idea of being able to graze Liberty Public Market again and again appeals to us. If you live in or visit San Diego, check it out. It may become your go-to food desination.