Where is this you ask? Why at the L.A. Farmer’s Market located on 3rd and Fairfax. I recently had the pleasure of exploring this world-famous market on a trip out to California to visit my brother and his family. After my mom had come across it in an article in Vanity Fair, we decided to borrow the car one day, drive into L.A. and check it out.
Perhaps the oldest “farmer’s market” in America, the history behind is vast and interesting. Thanks to Arthur Gilmore and his son Earl Bell, the market began to take fashion in the late 19th and early 20th century. It wasn’t until 1934 however, when Farmers Market became a real instituion, a place for locals to meet, and eventually a “must-see” tourist destination.
According to the official history given on the website for the market:
In July 1934 a contingent of farmers pulled their trucks onto an expanse of empty land at the property known as Gilmore Island at the corner of Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles. They displayed their produce on the tailgates of their vehicles, to their delight, customers quickly arrived and parked their cars on a hastily created dirt parking lot in spaces designated with chalk. They strolled among the trucks purchasing fruit, vegetables and flowers.
The atmosphere was casual, the open air commerce enticing, the goods fresh, and the result remarkable. Farmers Market became an instant institution.
Throughout the 20th century the market remained a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Today, the market sits next to “The Grove”; an upscale shopping center that hosts a variety of high-end stores and eateries. Entering the market through Gate 1 after leaving “The Grove” was like walking back into the 1950s. The first thing we came across when entering the market was a series of eateries that prided themselves on serving chilli dogs, ice cream, and donuts for over 60 years.
In addition to a plethora of open-air eateries, food stands, and take-away restaurants, one can also find many unique little shops specializing in such things as freshly made pasta, candles and incense, french groceries and cookware, children’s stickers, poultry, and specialty coffees and teas. One could easily spend a day just roaming through the market perusing all the little stores, grabbing bites to eat along the way.
For our own food experience, we decided to grab lunch at the French Crepery where we both a delicious lunch washed down with French lemonade.
After a pleasant lunch, we grabbed a chocolate rugula from one of the many bakeries then strolled around, checking out all the little nooks and crannies of the market. We soon found ourselves ready for ice cream and so patroned the Bennett’s Ice Cream where we each had the Cabernet Sauvignon Sorbet. I was skeptical at first, but I have to admit this was really good.
All in all, visiting the LA Farmer’s Market is a great experience, especially for those of you who love food. If you are a sophisticated foody, you may be somewhat disappointed by the options available to you, but you could certainly appreciate the French Grocery store, restaurant, and wine bar. For those of you who love kitschy, mid 20th century nostalgia, greasy burgers, ice cream, and lemonade, you won’t be able to get enough.