It's been a year-and-a-half since Liberty Public Market swung open its doors in the heart of Liberty Station. Today, the marketplace has grown into a food emporium, with interesting eats in every nook and cranny.
Liberty Public Market (LPM), located at 2816 Decatur Rd., adjacent to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, is a 25,000-square-foot marketplace that opened to the public in March 2016.
A $3 million collaboration between operating group Blue Bridge Hospitality and developer The McMillin Companies, the marketplace aims to be reminiscent of public markets in other cities, such as Napa’s Oxbow Public Market or Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market.
The focus at the indoor-outdoor venue is on fresh, sustainable, locally-sourced goods, including year-round produce sourced from regional farms, plus merchants offering locally-procured seafood, old-fashioned butcher services, homemade tortillas, bread and pastries, fine wine, locally-roasted coffee, specialty handcrafted goods and more.
Today, well into toddlerhood, LPM is home to more than 30 vendors, including a couple of full-service restaurants and beer and cocktail bars in communal indoor dining area known as Mess Hall.
The current merchants include:
- Crackheads: a restaurant in Mess Hall specializing in all-day breakfast sandwiches
- Doughballs: a restaurant in Mess Hall specializing in wood-fired pizzas
- Mess Hall Bar: a little bar that serves craft cocktails, beer and wine
- Bottlecraft: a craft beer shop and tasting room
- Howlistic: a specialty pet store
- Pacific Provisions: a shop offering specialty BBQ sauces, seasonings and kitchen staples
- Mastiff Sausage Co.: handcrafted sausages and sandwiches
- Wicked Maine Lobster: lobster rolls and New England favorites
- Cecilia’s Taqueria: gourmet Mexican food made with all local ingredients
- Cane Patch Kitchen: handmade authentic Southern cuisine
- Stuffed!: Decadent stuffed hamburgers
- Mama Made Thai: Street food classics inspired by Bangkok
- Allen’s Flowers: fresh-cut flowers and succulents
- Venissimo Cheese: artisanal cheeses and accompaniments
- Scooped by Mootime: ice cream and other cool, sweet treats
- Crafted Baked Goods: freshly baked cakes and pastries
- Roma Express: craft soda, cannoli, arancini and other Italian goods
- Baker & Olive: a small tasting room serving chef-inspired provisions, including gourmet olive oils
- Olala Crepes: sweet and savory French crepes
- Lolli Sweets: a classic candy store with a modern twist
- Liberty Meat Shop & Deli: the friendly marketplace butcher shop
- Fishbone Kitchen: fishmonger and belly-up oyster bar
- Westbean: a specialty micro-batch coffee roaster
- Parana Empanadas: authentic Argentinian empanadas
- Local Greens: wholesome salads, wraps, and bowls
- Pasta Design: fresh, handcrafted artisan pasta
- Le Parfait Paris: a French patisserie and boulangerie making fresh bread and baked goods
- Holbrook: a shop offering home goods and small gifts
- Saganaki by Meze: Greek fusion food
- Smoothie Rider: fresh smoothies blended with seasonal ingredients
- Roast: a meat shop offering fresh, hot sandwiches
Since my visit, one more food stall has opened: RakiRaki Ramen & Tsukemen, which serves authentic Japanese cuisine including curry, tsukemen, or dipping noodles, specialty sushi rolls, and its famous ramen.
Some of the small, local vendors on LPM's list first made names for themselves at farmers markets. Others are entirely new concepts that debuted at the marketplace. For most merchants, this is their first-ever brick-and-mortar establishment after building a fan base around San Diego.
The lineup gives patrons plenty of options.
Customers can be seen strolling from shop to shop, eyeballing display cases stuffed with tasty treats, trying to decide what to eat.
It's a tough choice.
Some people stick to one spot, picking just the dish they're craving. Others buy small items at different shops and build their own meal.
Patrons often take their haul to a patio area outside the market's entrance and eat on the dining tables, or lay a blanket on the grass and picnic with their freshly-selected goodies.
There are kids, families, and dogs everywhere.
The venue, while still relatively new, is steeped in history. The warehouse-style building was originally built as the Naval Training Center’s commissary in 1921. Some U.S. Navy art still covers the walls -- a reminder of its roots.
In late 2016, LPM was ranked No. 13 on a list of the most popular food halls in the United States in an urban retail report by brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield.
The food hall is open daily, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but vendors' individual hours may vary. Check the LPM website for updates if you're planning a visit.