Imagine... Upper Haight, no longer somewhere the grime-sensitive avoid, but rather a destination neighborhood (and not just for curious out-of-towners) that boasts foodie culture over... gutter food? It seems as if the Haight Street blocks between Central and Stanyan are turning over a new pot leaf, as local up-and-coming businesses are moving on in. For one, the specialty suppliers of Buyer's Best Friend Wholesale & Mercantile have opened a shiny new storefront on the corner of Cole. I stopped by their new stomping grounds for some chatter about the evolution of Haight Street and more free samples than I could count.
First things first: at Buyer's Best Friend, you can try everything in the store. And who doesn't love free samples? Of course this means that Buyer's Best Friend founders Adam Sah and Joyce Guan, Marketing Director Conor Lee, and I had an intensive sampling sesh, which was not at all hampered by my vegan-ness. Instead, Buyer's Best Friend conquered my dietary restrictions with a smorgasbord of vegan offerings. Turns out they cater specifically to vegan and gluten-free folk (which is a breath of fresh air amidst traditional foodie culture, to be frank). Bring out the dairy-free caramels and I'm sold, but the sample party continued with intriguing edibles like ghost chili chocolate (allegedly the hottest chili pepper in the world!), artisan balsamic vinegar, and key lime hot sauce.
Buyer's Best Friend isn't just a shop full of artisan eats, though. They originally emerged as an online specialty wholesaler that supplies the goods for markets and health food shops across the country – from grocery giants like Whole Foods to local Bi-Rite Market. They opened the Upper Haight haunt as a means of getting their products out to loyal customers directly.
Adam says that with BBF, he hopes to deliver a dosage of elegance in cuisine to Haight Street. The area already seems to be taking a turn for the hip, as opposed to its previous strictly-hippie status, which has sparked its fair share of debate. Within the past few years, tons of similarly-inspired vendors have materialized through the cloud of ganja smoke including spots like Magnolia Pub & Brewery, Alembic, the controversial Whole Foods, and places like Ice Cream Bar only a stone's throw away in Cole Valley. Buyer's Best Friend will add to this new tradition.
Buyer's Best Friend is hosting an opening party tonight, so now's the perfect chance for you to see what they're up to. Of course there will be samples galore!
Photos by Emily Turner