Going to the Farmers’ Market

You’re in LA and you’ve read the guide books, and they all say you need to go to the Farmers Market to take in real Angeleno culture and maybe get lucky and spot a celebrity or two (I once saw Leo DiCaprio among many dining there but that’s for another story). But do they tell you where to eat?

The Farmers Market has been an LA institution since 1934, when depression-hit growers in the area brought their unsold produce to a dusty intersection at what is now 3rd and Fairfax. It was an instant hit, and soon the owner of the land built permanent stalls that still stand today, only now it’s less about local produce and more about a dizzying array of great food stalls.

The moment you walk in you’ll see what I mean. Brazilian BBQ, Korean, Mexican, seafood, burger joints, French crepes . . . good thing they all speak English. It’s what makes this a great stop, especially if you’re with a big group – everyone can find something they’re looking for here. But choosing can be tough without some direction.

When I lead groups here I like to walk them through the entire market so they can see everything on offer, and of course as their guide I am full of opinions of what to avoid and what’s worth waiting in line. Here’s my list of favorites:

1. Pampas Grill – Brazilian BBQ to die for and the line out the door is proof. Don’t miss the garlic beef, plus a large assortment of vegetable and other traditional Brazilian dishes. And don’t let that line scare you – it moves fast.

2. The Gumbo Pot – Owned by the same people behind the Pampas Grill. Classic Cajun dishes like Jumbalaya and Gumbo, plus fried alligator! The corn bread and green salad with pecan dressing is the tops. Also has some more healthy choices with seafood and blackened chicken salads.

3. The French Crepe – From French Cajun to the real deal, get tasty savory or sweet crepes here as well as salads, Panini sandwiches, and European specialties.

4. Dupar’s – Go back to LA’s glory days in this authentic old-style diner that has seen its share of stars. Open 24 hours and great for a late night piece of one their famous pies.

5. Moishe’s – I love a good shwarma and they have some of the best here. Los Angeles has a huge Middle Eastern population and we win here with authentic shwarmas, gyros, and lamb dishes and some unforgettable hummus.
There are more, of course, and I have a great time watching my guests enjoy this treasure just as much as I do.

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