St. Petersburg Saturday Market: A Feast for Your Taste Buds
You don’t have to travel to Miami for food diversity in Florida.
The St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market, held in the Al Lang Field parking lot not far from the Mahaffey Theater and the new Salvador Dali museum, features a motley mix of farms, food vendors, live music, craft vendors, and more.
Best damn bloody mary mix ever? Check.
Brooklyn knishes? Check.
Fresh coconut juice, served in a coconut? They got it.
A fire-engine red Mediterranean food truck? It’s there.
Fresh Italian buffalo mozzarella cheese you can sample? Got that, too.
Surprisingly, this is the biggest fresh air market in the Southeast United States, attracting 8,000 to 10,000 people each week.
The St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market has nearly 200 vendors that fill 130 spaces on a given Saturday. The market, which began in 2002, is held from early October to late May, although there’s a smaller version of the market in the summer held in the Mahaffey Theater parking garage. That location may sound unglamorous but trust us, on a hot Florida summer day, you’ll be thankful you’re under cover and not in the heat.
Checking Out the Market: A Firsthand Report
On a recent Saturday visit, Florida Culture was overwhelmed by the diversity of agriculture and food choices at the bustling market. You would think you’re in New York City or San Francisco based on the diversity of food smells, sights, and flavors.
We often think of fresh-air markets to get fresh bread or locally grown produce, but you don’t have to go to the Saturday Market just to get fresh tomatoes. Go for the street festival-
like experience. Buy a fresh-squeezed orange juice and trail mix and enjoy your snack under a shaded area. Chat up the vendors about the products they make. If you want to purchase your produce or meat with a clean conscience, talk to some of the agricultural vendors who are passionate about their commitment to organic produce or grass-fed beef.
Worden Farm, a well-known organic farm in Punta Gorda, has a large area at the market with a line of customers just waiting to buy fresh greens, carrots, and other veggies. Cheeselicious owner Antonio Casamento of Tampa offers samples of his Italian-style fresh buffalo cheeses. From other vendors, you can sample Cajun food, buy some grouper to grill at home from the fresh seafood vendor, or check out the new “to go” tropical fruit wines from St. Petersburg-based Florida Orange Groves Winery.
The market usually features live music of all types, ranging from jazz to Latin to rock and more. You may need to dodge an elderly lady in a colorful maxi dress dancing along with the beats. Or, in another part of the market, you might hear an accordion player performing, inexplicably, an R&B hit.
If you’re a dog person, then the Saturday Market is your place to watch basset hounds mix with German shepherds and chihuahuas network (aka sniff butts) with Jack Russell terriers.
The market starts at 9 a.m. and goes until 2 p.m. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, go early. When you finish at the market, take a walk along the nearby scenic water view in downtown St. Pete and watch airplanes take off from St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport. Or, spend some time at the surreal Dali museum.