California, Gary Fong, Los Angeles, See — February 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm





LOS ANGELES – While I’m not a fan of all those must-see tourist sights in Los Angeles, there is one place  (okay, make that two, if you include Disneyland) that I’ve always been fond of and have continued to go to regularly over the years:  the Original Farmers Market (aka Farmers) at 3rd and Fairfax.

Like most people, I first visited Farmers when I was a kid as part of my family’s annual road trips to Southern California that also included visits to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the gone-but-not-forgotten, Marineland.  Back then, an afternoon at Farmers meant a new toy from Kip’s Toyland (hopefully), and roaming the many food stalls, and debating whether to spend my allowance on salt water taffy or the freshly roasted nuts.  The former was a visual feast for the eyes, while the later was about these fantastic aromas that permeated the market.  The taffy usually won out.

Nowadays, Farmers is more about nostalgia – it’s still got its original 1930’s wooden stall design.  And those metal folding chairs and greenish hued, formica-topped, round, dining tables are still strewn throughout the market.  The fun food stall vendors are still there as well, some of which have been around since the early days of the market, including Du-pars (which does amazing pies), Bob’s Coffee & Donuts (yummy maple bars and apple fritters) and Phil’s Deli.  There are also some snazzy newcomers – Loteria Grill, which does really good Mexican, LA Korea which serves up tasty Korean BBQ plates, and Sushi-a-Go-Go, which can always be counted on for a pretty good spicy tuna roll.


Beyond the décor and food, Farmers can also be a good place for a bit of people watching.  The customer mix can best be described as interesting.  There are the seniors (as in elderly folk, not high school) who live in the hood, and have been going to Farmers for ages. They tend to congregate near Bob’s Donuts over coffee.  Next are the entertainment industry folk, who either work (CBS Television is nearby) or live in the area (3rd Street is a mecca for nouveau industry types).  And lastly, there are the tourists, mostly stragglers from the Grove shopping mall next door but, luckily, tend to be few in numbers (e.g. not tour groupies).  They can be recognized by their Abercrombie & Fitch shopping bags.


What’s the little thing that makes Farmers worthwhile?  The ability to pleasurably while away the time either Old School or New School style.  Old School:  read the LA Times while sitting at a table on the second floor (fewer tourists, mostly locals), eating a pastrami and swiss on rye (with pickle on the side) from Pete’s Deli.  Afterwards, for desert, a maple bar and hot coffee from Bob’s Donuts while doing the Times crossword puzzle.  New School style: munch on carnitas with a chile morita sauce from Loteria while looking at an iPad.

Where is it?  6333 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles.

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(Photos: Gary Fong)


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