Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The Ultimate Guide to the LA Farmers Market
Well, I did it! A little more than a month ago, I pledged to visit every food stand in the Third and Fairfax Farmers Market, and I'm proud to stand on the proverbial aircraft carrier and say, "Mission Accomplished." Below are a few notes about my mission followed by a complete summary of my findings. My more detailed reviews are available here.
How did I do it?
My mission was simple, eat at every stand in the Farmers Market: old favorites as well as places I'd never gotten around to trying. However, I did not include chains (Starbucks, Johnny Rockets, Pinkberry) or restaurants in the adjacent properties (Marmalade Cafe, Morels, etc.). I also excluded the second floor sushi restaurant Kado; this was to be about the places occupying the actual Farmers Market property.
For the past six weeks, I ate at the Market two to three days per week, sometimes more. Often, I would have more than one meal a day (or at a time) at the Market and, whenever possible, I would drag friends along to help increase my sampling possibilities. For stands I had never tried before, I tried to sample a variety of dishes, including specialties.
I ended up going to 34 different food stands/restaurants. Of those, 10 were places I had never tried before.
It was an interesting experience and gave me some small sense of what it must be like to be a professional food critic. Fun, but also tiring.
How did I rate them?
I divided the Market stands into three tiers using the following criteria:
TOP TIER: A great find. A place worth a special trip to the Market.
SECOND TIER: A good place. Not worth a special trip but a place that you might want to try if you happened to be at the Market.
THIRD TIER: Places that I would not go to again. Not necessarily bad (though some were), but generally unexceptional.
Of my new tries, two made it into the top spot, but most were relegated to the third tier.
Without further ado, here is the complete list with a few brief comments. New tries have been marked with an asterisk(*).
Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts - LA's best cake doughnuts and apple fritters
Country Market* - Funnel cake of the gods
Du-Par's Restaurant - Great pies, pancakes and the last great Monte Cristo in LA
The French Crepe Company - Tasty Crepes, sweet and savory
Littlejohn's - The best toffee around and other tasty candies
¡Loteria! - Mexican, great chilaquiles and queso fundido, avoid the bland tacos
Moishe's Village* - Boerek (Turkish pizzas), get it with fried eggs
Monsieur Marcel's - Best fondue in town
Pampas Grill - Brazilian churrascaria
Patsy D’Amore’s Pizza - Real NY style pizza
Bennett's Ice Cream - Decent homemade ice cream
The Gumbo Pot - Cajun food, po-boys, jambalaya, etc.
Moishe’s - Lamb ka-bob and other Middle Eastern fare
Singapore’s Banana Leaf - Paratha with Curry sauce is the go-for dish
Thee's Continental Bakery - Good cookies and pastries
Tusquellas Fish & Oyster Bar - Fish & chips
The Bread Bin - Eastern European sweets
Bryan’s Pit Barbecue - Dry, underseasoned barbecue
Charlie's Coffee Shop* - Basic diner food with a homey atmosphere
China Depot - The better of two Chinese steam table stands
Coffee Corner* - A small selection of pastries
Deano's Gourmet Pizza* - Pizza and pastas
Gill’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream - Soft serve
Kokomo - New school diner food, interesting in theory, boring in fact
La Korea - Basic Korean food
Magee's Kitchen* - Carving station meats and old-time Mexican dishes
Market Grill - Cheeseburgers and fries
Peking Kitchen* - The lesser of two Chinese steam table stands
Phil's Grill* - Basic Jewish deli fare done competently
The Salad Bar* - My choice for worst place in the Market -- lackluster salads and cold sandwiches
Sushi A Go Go* - A small step up from Ralph's sushi bar
T&Y Bakery - Cakes and pastries that look better than they taste
Ultimate Nut and Candy - Flavored popcorn and candies
Ulysses Voyage - Unexceptional Greek sit-down restaurant
For more complete reviews, see my original postings, cataloged here.
There you have it, another exercise in my obsessive completionist tendencies and the Ultimate Guide to the Farmers Market.