After more than 70 years, the Original Farmers Market still sells the freshest produce, offers every cuisine available on the planet and provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of life in the city. Because there are 20 grocery and specialty foods stores, as well as 35 restaurants and cafes, the Farmers Market is the perfect place to go when no one in your group wants to eat the same thing. Campus Circle has deconstructed the Farmers Market to highlight the best of the best.
If the Farmers Market is open, that means that Pampas Grill is jammed. The buffet line at this churrascaria (Brazil’s famous barbecue) is long for a reason, and the food is worth waiting for. For $7.95 per pound, hungry patrons can select from fried plantains, cheese bread, black beans, mashed potatoes, sautéed vegetables, not to mention the carved meats. Carneiro (lamb leg), alcatra (top sirloin) and picanha ao alho (garlic beef) are the most popular choices. Serious meat-eaters can pay $10.95 per pound for churracso only. Atkins never seemed so easy.
Everything at the French Crepe Company is a hit. From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., strong coffee, waffles, sandwiches and both sweet and savory crepes are made fresh and devoured in the blink of an eye. A delightful breakfast might include a Waffle Chez Moi with Nutella, a side of bacon or sausage and caffe latte – all under $10.
La Napoleon crepe lets us be “the short general” by choosing three ingredients from chocolate sauce, chestnut spread, whipped cream, bananas, strawberries, pears or peaches. A favorite among the savory crepes is La Normandie, stuffed with free-range chicken, button mushrooms, carrots, and green beans in a white Dijon sauce.
Loteria! Grill never gets a break, as diners always hunger for the restaurant’s huge plates of nachos, irresistible tacos and satisfying enchiladas. Chicken, beef and pork tacos are $2.55 each, and gigantic burritos come in at $7.55. Sides of platano frito (fried plantains with crema Mexicana), rice and beans are stand-bys, but the real catch is Mexican breakfast served all day long.
Chilaquiles are crisp tortilla strips sautéed in green tomatillo, red chile guajillo or mole poblano. The three-egged Omelette de Champiñones containing mushrooms with epazote and cheese will give you the energy you need to get stuck in L.A. traffic.
Deano’s Gourmet Pizza caters to the Hollywood crowd with wholesome pizza that has reduced amounts of oils and fat. No flavor is lost in any of the slices, and Deano even dares to serve some eccentric pies. The Cajun has a corn meal crust, cayenne pepper, mozzarella, cheddar, sausage and shrimp. The Hawaiian does the hula with an herb white crust, Canadian bacon and pineapple. Lasagna, pasta and grilled chicken dishes are also available.
Singapore’s Bananaleaf is one of the smaller venues in the Market, but its tinier size says nothing about its big taste. Start with the rojak salad for $6.95, a mix of cucumber, jicama, pineapple, sprouts, apple and tofu in a spicy peanut tamarind dressing. Mains of grilled chicken and beef skewers are served with a rice cake or streamed rice.
$8.50 will buy you Mee or Nasi Indo Style, pan-fried noodles served with two satay sticks and a fried egg. Desserts favoring crushed ice include chendol (palm sugar, coconut, and chendol bean), or the Ice Kachang with Jack fruit, sweet bean, evaporated milk, and rose syrup.
Enjoy large, stuffed grape leaves, creamy-beyond-belief hummus and shawerma at Moishe’s. Generous plates of chicken, beef and lamb kebob include two side dishes, pita bread, and grilled vegetables. Moishe’s tabouleh contains less cracked wheat and more parsley, allowing the freshness of the herb and lemon to shine through. The rotisserie chicken defines succulent.
Not only does Monsieur Marcel have a gourmet market expertly stocked with cheeses, cured meats, olives, great bottles of wine and imported candy, there is even an adorable sit-down restaurant packed day in and day out. Some relax at the quaint bar, others snag a table, but all enjoy huge bowls of mussels, sandwiches and salads alongside a well-merited glass of wine.
Wonder no more at the various varieties of popcorn available on the west coast, because Ultimate Nut and Candy Company has got that covered. Chocolate-covered honeycomb, salted nuts and every kind of brittle (pecan, cashew and pecan jalapeño to name few) can also be found there, The Bread Bin entices passersby with pie-sized cinnamon crisps, Hungarian pastries, and every kind of bread loaf imaginable. Egg challah was flying off the stands faster than the newest issue of US Weekly when Passover was in full swing.
Country Bakery lets you have theme-park food without the scary Disney impersonators and interminable waits. In less than five minutes, a freshly made funnel cake is all yours.
Live a little and top it with fruit, whip cream and powdered sugar. As you bite into the doughy funnel cake, you don’t even remember that Space Mountain just reopened.
As if additional culinary encouragement was needed, two ice cream stands, wine-bars with a hip, 20-something crowd, gumbo, and Southern barbecue restaurants all reign supreme in the Original Farmers Market. Worldwide cuisine at great prices in one corner of Los Angeles? Thank you 1934, thank you.