Kid Hit Menu Items: Donuts at Bob’s; pancakes at Du-par’s; tacos and chips at Loteria; crepes at French Crepe Company; Pinkberry, if you must; chicken and hummus at Moishe’s; pizza at Patsy’s; meat and sides at Pampas Grill churrascaría… The list goes on at the Original Farmers’ Market.
Adult Perks: The Market has just about everywhere else in L.A. beat for people watching and food choices — save for Grand Central Market, of course.
Pros: Social, cultural, and culinary variety. Endlessly entertaining vitality and mix. Sur la Table (a big plus, at least for us). Huntington and Marconda’s Meats for the best cuts, especially come holiday time. Nancy Silverton’s forthcoming burger place in the Market is super exciting news for everybody (except for vegetarians).
Cons: Swarming pigeons, like the one that pooped on my sister just as we were about to leave for an Olympic event at the Coliseum in 1984. Fending off demands at Kip’s Toyland and other vendors can get tough. Easy opportunities for escape within the maze of the Market stalls. And as for the original “farmers” component of this institution: well, that’s pretty weak, since most of the produce is conventionally grown and lower quality than what’s sold at actual neighborhood certified farmers’ markets nowadays.
High Chairs: Yes, but it might be a scavenger hunt to find one.
Parking and Access: The Farmers Market and Grove each have their own lots. Spaces can be hard to come by in the surface lot for the original market, which requires validation from a market, not Grove, vendor. I usually face the inevitable fact that we’ll wind up there anyway, and park in the Grove structure.
Other Tidbits: Writing about the Original Farmers’ Market in this context is, admittedly, low-hanging fruit. But that doesn’t diminish the wonder and value of this local landmark. My memories of this place are among the most powerful from my Los Angeles childhood, because few locations in this city facilitate this kind of flourishing public life. Yes, the former Gilmore family grounds have changed since the Grove dominated the corner and the neighborhood’s sense of itself. Or rather, taken command of real estate lingo. (A response I’m often tempted to say when I hear, “We live by the Grove.” “You mean near the Farmer’s Market?”) Yet the Market remains so deeply nourishing and comforting at its core.
Because it set the template for the shopping mall food court, every taste and need can be met, no matter how picky. Go off, find your bliss, and then reconvene. That said, the metal folding chairs are uncomfortable, some of the food is mediocre, and finding a table in the shade might require some awkward hovering on a hot day. But it’s always worth the effort. The Grove — that easy punching bag for urbanist critics and people who care about investing in REAL cities — actually wound up infusing the Market with new life and delivering a whole other group of patrons. And the marketing genius of Rick Caruso is so starkly apparent once you have kids.
Go ahead, ride the trolley and watch the dancing fountain do its thing after lunch at the Market. At least it’s free. So long as you avoid American Girl.
6333 W. 3rd Street (Third and Fairfax)
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Individual merchant hours vary.