Liberty Public Market

Since I was at Liberty Station today for the Latin American Art Festival, I decided to check out the new Liberty Public Market, which was open.

As has been mentioned previously, not all the vendors were up and running. I’d say about 70% of the vendors have completed their build outs and are open for business. I’d also say that I hope, with all my heart that San Diego embraces this concept. It’s not the Ferry Building, it’s not Pike’s Market, nor is it La Boqueria. But it’s also not like the food courts you find in shopping malls either. Some vendors are strictly take away while others have a bit of counter seating available, and Mess Hall, of course, being a full service restaurant, has a lot of seating. Even with some of the spaces still clearly under construction, it was fun to walk around and see what was being offered. There was a lot of good energy in the building today.

La Parfait had a lot of really great looking desserts on display. With an espresso or other coffee drink? Yummy…

But it appears that the quiche at La Parfait was more popular than their sweets?

Mastiff Sausage wasn’t open for business, but they appear to be very close to opening. Here’s part of their menu:

Cecilia’s Taqueria was doing good business, as was the place specializing in Argentinian empanadas. Here’s Cecilia’s menu:

Fishbone only had whole fish, BIG, whole fish and they weren’t ready to break them down into filets, steaks and other pieces today. But they did have a pretty good tuna ceviche available

I stopped by Liberty Meats and picked up a steak for dinner tonight and a porterhouse pork chop for later on.

Prices on the menus I saw looked fair, although I’m not sure that $9 juices and $12 nut milk shakes are going to fly.

Liberty Station was busy today, parking was not hard.

I think this will be a welcome addition to the SD food scene. I wish them much luck and success

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We stopped by this past Monday (pi day), and had a quick bite at Soda and Swine. Had the chorizo scotch egg and some apple pecan pie a la mode (with vanilla soft serve). Walked around a bit, and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Also nice to see Wicked Maine Lobster find a permanent home.

I can see this becoming a major tourists attraction. I don’t know if that’s a bad or good thing, but the location and setup almost make it inevitable.

I think for this place to become attractive for tourists, not only does it have to be accessible (easy to find, decent parking, etc), the food selection has to be broad enough to attract families (so many youngish families visit SD in SUVs and minivans) and the food has to be walk-friendly (think in the realm of ice cream cones, hot dogs, pizza slices but not specifly) and/or seating has to be available. Most visitors stay at hotel/motel rooms where eating takeout can be difficult.

Beer is a huge tourist draw for many in the SD area as well. If I could grab some tacos/sandwich/burger/bbq at one counter and a nice beer on tap at another counter, or a SD-sryle burrito and a nice cuppa, and have a decent place to sit, count me in. With so so many breweries around SD, maybe this marketplace can have established beer counters and have various breweries rotate in for three-six month stints at a time.

Like other successful Ferry Building-type places, SD should showcase what the area does well/is known for and the crowds will come. Tourists can create a LCD mindset for businesses to help pay for the overhead, but at the same time, a growing segment of the population in general has become far more savvy about better food than a decade ago.

They’ve got craft beer covered in spades. Bottlecraft has a good sized space there with taps, bottles, cans and lots of seating space. They were packed yesterday. On the other side of the building is a wine store where you can taste or just pick up a bottle for later.

Other than on Sunday’s when the wildly popular Rock Church is in session, I don’t think parking will be a huge issue, plus it’s FREE parking. And even with Rock, LPM is located closer to the east entrance to Liberty Station than to the Rock entrance, so it might not be a huge issue.

LPM has tacos, which is probably more of a SD thing than burritos, empanadas, burgers, sandwiches, sausage sandwiches, sweets and more that is yet to open. It also has a meat market, fish monger, a florist and the 4th branch of a local cheese shop designed and included to serve the residential area around Liberty Station, which is a combination of high density housing and expesnive homes.

I think this thing will fly, but I’d really hate to see a lot of vendor turnover on a routine basis.

Good to hear - sounds like things were thought out. As for vendor turnover, I’m sure you suspect this, but it seems inevitable. Finding a strong solid mix where the vendors complement each other takes time and luck. Tastes and trends change, come and go and the process continues to evolve.

Having been to the Ferry Building only three times in the past 10 years, the change there seems drastic. At the same time, the picks seem stronger and most counters and eateries were very busy on our last visit two summers ago. I’m hoping the same will be true for the Liberty Public Market. SD needs and deserves a place like this - a solid nucleus for a growing food movement to rally around.

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I think you’re absolutely right about vendor turnover. What sounds good on paper sometimes doesn’t translate to sustainable sales in real time. It is inevitable and it will be interesting to see who succeeds and who doesn’t

The Mercado was packado this afternoon. Very, very cool layout, far more interesting and exciting than I had imagined. Very much of a Mexican type market layout, with vendors around square islands. The ambience is terrific. Tons of people everywhere and the noisy bustle added to the festive atmosphere. No parking hassles at all – and we arrived not long after the last morning Rock Church service let out.

There was a long line at the empanadas place, which is where we were hoping to go. So we ended up eating at the Latin American Art Festival. (There were also lines at the Art Festival food stands. We got a couple of delicious pork belly tacos from the Bracero stand.) We’ll get some empanadas at the Market next time.

I have to say, Liberty Public Market is definitely a winner, and it’s largely because of the way it was done. Which is to say, it was done exactly right. Much of the old has been preserved, and the new has been designed to blend in perfectly. Great job! I had envisioned a much more boring layout: A single strip of shops lining both sides of a single central corridor. Hardly!

Even though it’s not yet completely finished or populated, and even though some of the food isn’t cheap (e.g., $25 for chicken with dumplings at the Mess Hall), it’s a really compelling place; fun just to walk around.

Yes, tourists will love it, but so did we.

There really should not be a negative connotation with an area being viewed as a “tourist attraction”.

Some places like Little Italy and parts of La Jolla in/around Prospect are definitely magnets for visitors to the area, but they are also very enjoyable places for locals. It’s almost like a symbiotic relationship.

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In fact, my comment that you quoted was in response to a remark that you made yesterday:

I don’t attach any inherent negative connotations with “tourist attractions” at all. I agree with you about the symbiotic relationship.

I did not mean to insinuate that you did.

I was just commenting generally that many do hold such a position and merely using your comment as a springboard for my own personal rant.

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Thanks, ipse. I think we’re in violent agreement and just misunderstood each other.

Anyway, we were really delighted to see the way this project has turned out and will drop in frequently.

Agreement, yes!

Violent? Me thinks not. Blue happy faces are pacifists at heart!

It’s just an expression, my friend. “Violent agreement” is a lighthearted way of saying “strongest possible agreement”, a jocular twist on the term “violent disagreement”. But let’s not belabor that one…

This looks fantastic and can’t wait to hit it up…maybe this weekend.
I love the idea and mess/food hall dining is very in right now but I’ve always dug it…
Best to all the vendors!


Mess Hall is actually the name of a restaurant in the Market, a nod to Liberty Station’s roots. It’s a medium-size place, right next to the larger Bottlecraft. In fact the two seem to almost blend together. Both have seating, and there are also numerous places to sit just outside the building, too. Elsewhere in the market there are few places to put down food or drink. We saw a number of people carrying large plastic glasses of beer in the aisles. (Is that legal? Does anyone care? We thought it was cool.)

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Here is what Mario Batali is doing in NYC…from Grubstreet.

Looked him up and he seems to be a pretty active guy! I had no idea he was behind Bencotto, a favorite of mine, for instance.

But is he connected to Mess Hall somehow? I tried to find out but I don’t see his name popping up in that context.

Who ?

I was replying to Plumeria’s post about Mario Batali. Her comment (and included link) was in response to my post about Mess Hall at LPM, according to the email notice I got.

Batali is behind Bencotto in Little Italy ?