Ranking farmers markets in Los Angeles is like trying to decide between ramen shops in Gardena: You're dealing with a surfeit of wealth. That said, the market that takes over the Santa Monica Promenade on Wednesday mornings is in a category of its own. Decades before markets started popping up in every neighborhood in town, the Santa Monica Certified Farmers Market defined the genre. It celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2011, a stunning fact when you consider that 30 years ago you couldn't even find fresh herbs in grocery stores. The Wednesday market has become far more than an efficient farm-to-table delivery system: Laura Avery manages an exceedingly well-run event just blocks from the Pacific Ocean, the marine layer often forming its own market canopy over the tables and stalls. The farmers are friendly, the produce is stunning and the whole thing feels like a European city square, with chefs drinking coffee together at Röckenwagner Bakery Café or pausing for an ad hoc committee meeting in the middle of Arizona Avenue. Visiting chefs (Mario Batali most notably) make it a point to visit, trailing bags of Meyer lemons or Santa Rosa plums along with sous chefs and publicists. Arizona Avenue betw. Fourth & Ocean, Santa Monica; (310) 458-8712, smgov.net.

—Amy Scattergood

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