One of the first places we always recommend when anyone asks us where to go in Los Angeles is the original Farmer’s Market on Fairfax. Started in 1934 when a group of farmers decided to sell produce off their truck tailgates, the property is now home to at least 85 different shops and restaurants, greater than 90% of which are independently owned. From fresh made nut butters to hand made ice cream, vintage novelty items to kitschy California souvenirs, the market has become a true LA institution, more than holding its own against the “shopping and entertainment complex” next door east known as The Grove.
Charming produce stalls, classic toys and barber shops, newspaper and frozen banana stands, visitors are treated to a gamut of ready to eat treats, gourmet groceries, unusual gifts and eye candy. Celebrities, they’re just like us, i.e., love their coffee and pie.
1. cute soda stand with an awesome name, The Refresher 2. a hallway peek at popular fishmongers, Tusquellas 3. pastel tables line the market and fill up quickly at meal times 4. a literal salad bar, Farm Fresh Produce offers all manner of fruits and veggies 5. Shine Gallery is a favorite store for one-of-a-kind finds and adding to vintage memorabilia collections (or starting a new one) 6. meat carved to order
We have to admit that unlike, say, the farmer’s markets in Santa Monica or Larchmont Village, this establishment could maybe do with a few more sustainable offerings of the agricultural variety. That being said, we appreciate the ‘meeting place’ vibe, respect for history and one can still easily shop for an evening’s meal, with proteins readily covered (Huntington Meats, Marconda’s and Puritan Poultry) on through dessert. Oh, dessert.
Originally conceived as a public market, the space still welcomes regulars who stop in every day for their caffeine and gossip fix. From old school Bennett’s and Bob’s on one end to newcomer Short Cake on the other (with Charlie’s and Coffee Corner in between), you can be assured a decent cup of java and excellent baked good.
When we’re in town, we often dedicate a day to the market, arriving early in the morning, moseying along and taking in the chatter between vendors and any new faces behind the stands. Even if we’ve downed a scone and consumed a couple of lattes, we are almost always then persuaded to stay for lunch.
1. The aforementioned market stalwart, Bob’s Coffee and Doughnuts (and cinnamon rolls!) 2. A bit of Cajun country in Cali at The Gumbo Pot 3. Outstanding Mexican fare, we stop into Loteria for the papas con rajas tacos, empanaditas and pineapple tamales (call ahead for the latter). 4. French crepes – oui, please.
We’ve only mentioned a few of our favorite shops and restaurants here in hopes to entice you to pay a visit. There are plenty of spices, sauces and ingredients still to be discovered there. Like the words inscribed on the tower – An Idea – a gathering place that supports conversation and small business, boosts food cultivation and many cultures, this concept is one that we hope stays around a long while, growing slowly and steadily along the way.