Though many of our city's farmers' markets may share similar vendors and farms, no two are built the same. The Original Farmers' Market at Third and Fairfax serves as a culinary landmark, a multi-generational meeting place, and a gastronomic gateway to The Grove.
In addition, this may be the only 75-year-old farmers' market we know of that stays open seven days a week and offers more eateries than fruit stands. Other bonuses? Handmade wooden carts, two beer and wine bars, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and permanent restrooms on the premises. Sure, parking is difficult. But what market doesn't have its challenges?
We offer you this photo gallery series featuring photographs of our picks for the Top 10 things to eat at the 3rd and Fairfax Farmers' Market. Though this list is not hierarchical, our choices are constructed in what could be considered chronological order.
1. A fresh-baked donut from Bob's Coffee and Donuts ($.95 each). Thanks to Owner Bob Tusquesllas and his crew, the raised donuts here are made the same way they've been made for over 40 years: with a rolling pin, natural yeasts, and several hours of kneading. One bite of a cakey chocolate and caramel nut donut and even dainty eaters are transformed into Homer Simpson-esque donut-munchers. Bob's Coffee and Donuts, Stall #450; (323) 933-8929.
2. The "La Chezy Moi" Nutella crepe at The French Crepe Co. ($6.49): Take a crepe the size of a large frisbee, fill it with warmed Nutella, and take a bite. One taste can make just about anyone smile. Pair that with a cup of Guatemala Antigua coffee ($1.65) and you'll be able to ride a sugar high for at least half the day. The French Crepe Co., Stall #318; (323) 934 3113.
3. Probaditas taco sampler at Loteria ($14): The probaditas sampler plate is the taco version of a greatest hits record. Quarter-sized tacos sing the Mexican kitchen's best flavors and illuminates what genre of flavors you'll want to request next. Loteria, Stall #322; (323) 930-2211.
4. Brazilian BBQ from Pampas Grill (sold by weight): Grab a plate at the salad bar and compose a meal dedicated to Brazillian BBQ. Start with a centerpiece of alcatra (top sirloin), picanha (sirloin cap), or carneiro (lamb leg) and garnish away with hearts of palms, and plantains with sautéed yucca flour. Pampas Grill, Stall #618; (323) 937-9506.
5. Steak from Marconda's Meats grilled to order at La Korea B.B.Q. (sold by weight): Start your own underground steakhouse when you buy a steak of your choosing from Marconda's butcher shop and bring it to its next door neighbor, La Korean B.B.Q.. For just three dollars La Korea will grill the steak for you. Buy a side dish and they'll charge you only two dollars. Marconda's Meats, Stall #514; (323) 938-5131; La Korea B.B.Q., Stall #510; (323) 936-3930.
6. Falafel Sandwich at Moishe's ($7.75); Next to the rotating spindle of house-made Shawerma is the busy sandwich station dedicated to making hundreds of pita wraps. Order the vegetarian falafel made with chickpeas, tomatoes, tahini, lettuce, and fresh pita bread. Moishe's, Stall #336; (323) 936-4998.
7. Shrimp Po'Boy ($8.25) from The Gumbo Pot; A classic Creole sandwich made with crispy battered shrimp, lettuce, tomato and seasoned mayonnaise that's stuffed in a French bread roll fills your belly and--with the application of enough hot sauce--fires up your tastebuds. Get a side of their smoky spiced gumbo Ya Ya (a tomato-based soup with chicken, shrimp andouille sausage) for just $2.95 more. The Gumbo Pot, Stall #312; (323) 933-0358.
8. A glass of wine and a plate of cheese at Mr. Marcel's; Perch yourself on a high stool at the bar and take in the living reality show that is the farmers market. Choose from one of the more than 40 wines by the glass and then wait for your order of fromage. Cheese can be ordered individually ($8.00 for one), by the plate ($16.99), or in a massive fondue pot for two ($24.99).
Monsieur Marcel's Pain Vin et Fromage, Stall #236; (323) 939-7792.
9. A slice of apple pie with melted cheddar cheese from Dupar's ($4.95); Dupar's has been satiating 24-hour cravings for almost as long as the 75-year old market has been operating. To be extra decadent, get that cheddar-topped apple pie á la mode. Dupar's, Stall #210; (323) 933-8446.
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10. English Toffee from Littlejohn's Candy (sold by weight) ; It's hard to believe that a handmade candy this good could have been invented in a town known for thin starlets and gaunt musicians. Littlejohn's toffee has a yielding--dare we say beguiling--texture that showcases the flavors of almonds, butter, sugar and salt. Like a drug, this buttery brittle is addictive and sold by the pound. Littlejohn's Candy, Stall #432; (323) 936-5379.
The Original Farmers' Market, 6333 West 3rd St.; (323) 933-0616.
Brooke Burton is also the author of Foodwoolf.com.