Why I love farmers markets
Farmers Markets are not only the best way to get to know a neighbourhood but a great family activity. When my eldest son was first born the weekend treats at the markets were my sanity check. This was a date without knowing it was a date. My husband and I would wander and get coffee and pick at food all whilst baby was asleep in the pram. Not having any agenda I could take time out to feed or settle.
Then you have a toddler and it is just as fun. We would take it in turns to watch him roll down the hill whilst the other went off to get supplies. Now that we have two, one is in charge of crowd control whilst the other gets coffee. Repeat. One is in crowd control whilst the other gets coffee. We may manage to get a few supplies whilst the kids place their various demands and requests.
If I am visiting a town in rural Australia, I try to visit the markets. Local produce wins. When you are in an area you should try to support local business and small business. I get the modern convenience of Woolworth’s but the town doesn’t necessarily reap the economic benefits of your purchases form them. Local produce will give you an understanding of the local economies and the chance to meet local growers. It’s a great opportunity to learn and build understanding.
Los Angeles style farmers markets
LA may not be the place where you would imagine a farmers market but I can assure you even when a city has more upmarket and ritzy markets, they are still worth going to. in fact LA, has many of these type markets. Westchester Farmers Markets is open on a Wednesday for produce and fresh food and I have read many reviews that this is one of the best. Unfortunately our travel time did not allow for us to fit this into Wednesday’s plans.
The Original Farmers Markets
The Original Farmers Markets is located on Third and Fairfax. This market is really about great little produce owners who have built successful businesses from small beginnings. It’s the wonderful story of hard work and passion that we all love over and over. It fills my heart with love when I hear how much these people love their jobs and their product. You can taste the love you know. Jam without love is just jam. Jam made from love tastes so much sweeter. As these markets are open 7 days a week and until 9.00pm you will find many of these places are staffed and not run by the actual owners which is the true loss of success really.
This market was started on the site of two old diaries, which became an oil site and later was developed by two entrepreneurs with “an idea” In 1934, the two men wanted to create a village. The village would allow farmers to sell their produce. Within months of opening the various merchants were moving in to permanent stalls. The “idea” proved so popular they started hosting celebrations. The start of this market has continued with various celebrations throughout the year and the buzz remains as does the popularity.
Today you will find a whole range of vendors and merchants. Walking tours are a great way to discover the highlights if you haven’t been reading foodie reviews and blogs.
Bob’s coffee and donuts.
(not barista style coffee) This is a family run business and has been operating at the markets for decades. If you don’t purchase worth a visit just to experience this decade old business.
Another family run business since 1946. They operate with fresh ingredients and they make their own ice-cream on the spot. Cabernet Sauvignon Sorbet might arose your senses.
Butchers shops are difficult for a tourist. It is hard to appreicate them when you can’t buy something to put on the BBQ in the hotel lobby! This shop has been here since 1941 and there is often 2-3 generation of Bennett’s behind the counter serving. I love family businesses so whilst you may not be able to purchase you can appreciate the business and it’s history.
Fritzi Dog which is now Fritzy Coop
If you love all things chicken this is a poultry dish specialist with a variety of sides.
You will find a healthy twist on Mediterranean fare. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE. Their signature is a Waffleshot. Coffee served in waffle cone dipped in dark chocolate. I’m not a mocca person but their espresso is worth it! DO IT!
Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market was opened in 1917 and has been in continuous operation ever since. The Original Farmer Market is therefore not the original per se but is perhaps an authentic farmers market while Central Market is more a market. Does that even make sense? Central market has a history of vendors rather than farmers. I didn’t live then so I am going off what I have observed and read. Moving on, the gentrification of the Downtown area of Los Angeles has greatly added to the buzz but it should be noted this place has survived through recessions, depressions and economic downturns. They must be doing something right to continue to live on.
The market occupies the bottom levels of two old buildings in Bunker Hill. The Homer Laughlin Building, and the Laughlin Annex or Lyon Building, You can enter from both Broadway and Hill. Ville de Paris Department Store, which was once one of the city’s finest department stores was once a resident in the building. The nearest subway is Pershing Square Station on the red line. We caught an Uber.
Sadly this market space made a push to modernize the space in 2012. Long-time vendors were pushed aside and some flashy pants newcomers arrived. Some older vendors remain but what has arrived has certainly upped the sophistication of this place. For the previous 100 years, there were butchers, spice sellers, fishmongers, and small restaurants, each with a rich history. Now there are some new comers and I think the mix of old and new is exciting.
Eggslut(now in Melbourne for foodies) this was the most popular food truck in Los Angeles for some time with a cult like following. They now have two location in LA and one is Los Vegas. Be prepared to line up, hundreds of people flock to their stall daily. It’s worth waiting for. I love eggs anytime of the day and their ‘eggslut’ is worth waiting for.
Owned by Valerie Gordon and you will find pastries and speciality coffee. My exacting coffee standards would say this place is good. There are hot food dishes for those wanting something more substantial.
This is one of the oldest vendors in the market and remains one of the most popular. Here you will find hot wonton soup. Living on Asia’s doorstep there is good Asian and mediocre and I can vouch for being somewhat an expert. I work in Chinatown in Sydney so I eat a variety of Asian every week. This would be labelled as good. Really good. If you are looking for a hearty and soul warming soup, this is your place.
Again, one of the longer-established vendors, Sarita’s is legendary. Hailing for El Salvador you will find cheap but tasty treats. The namesake pupusas (like a closed quesadilla you may have had in other South American restaurants). Again, be prepared to wait as this place as a long line of devotees who are regulars.
Wexler’s has become somewhat of a pastrami king. The chef is using his Jewish roots to push forward the modern idea of a traditional Jewish delicatessen. Hit this place for sandwiches. The pastrami and smoked fish are made on site.
Don’t miss Horse Thief: off Hill Street you’ll find Horse Thief BBQ,. This Texan BBQ stall/ vendor is not to be missed. I watch American food shows and they rave on about brisket and I just didn’t understand until Horse Thief. There is a bar with a wide range of craft beers. If brisket is not your thing try the pulled pork.
Here is a real coffee. Australian standard coffee. So good, I’ll take a Macchiato. (I only order macchiato is the coffee is good enough and to find one in the US is a breakthrough)
You know as you wander through the markets. I say wander, but realistically has you get pushed and shoved through if you happen to be there at a busy time. Regardless, the true wander is there are no chains here. They may grow to have several locations (like Eggslut) but that is the beauty of each and every business story. Eggslut started as a food truck and now has 3 locations in the US and one in Melbourne. I’d say, that is a story worth knowing. There are so many stories from so many more of the vendors, enjoy your wander.