Owner and Tour Guide @ Los Angeles Urban Adventures. Tourism veteran, third-generation Californian, global citizen, food lover, culture guru, local aficionado.
Sure, Los Angeles may be known for its glitz and glam, but the locals know that when it comes to grocery shopping, the best stuff is to be found in the markets. The City of Angels is a paradise of local produce, delicious desserts and sustainable seafood, and those in the know (ahem, like our local Los Angeles tour guides) tick off their shopping lists at the city’s many local farmers’ markets. After all, this is a sunshiny, health-foodie, everyday’s-a-perfect-day-to-be-outdoors kind of city — shopping local and eating local is part of the LA vibe. And while there is no shortage of markets to choose from, the biggest and most famed of them all is the Original Farmers Market at Fairfax and Third.
This busy market started in 1934 as a village square for locals to buy and sell goods, and today it’s a beating heart for LA residents. Don’t be surprised if you even spot a few celebrities within the crowds, taking shelter from the prying paparazzi! With all the history and character seeping from its stalls, one could spend a half day in the market, shopping, eating, drinking and people-watching.
If you’re going to go, your best bet is to arrive early. Savour a doughnut and coffee alongside the regulars, then hit the stalls! Just be warned — if you weren’t hungry before you arrived, you definitely will be as soon as you start browsing the offerings. Among our favourite stalls, there’s Monsieur Marcel, serving up gourmet foods, wine, cheeses and chocolates; Normandie Bakery, with its delectable selection of pastries; and Farm Fresh, with a produce display guaranteed to have you filling your cart with fresh fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile, carnivores will love the prime grade beef and homemade sausages from Huntington Meats, and Tusquellas Seafood offers prepared seafood salads and fresh fish.
While the Original Farmers Market gets most of the fame, it’s certainly not the only market loved by LA foodies. The Santa Monica Farmers Market happens on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, and the Hollywood Farmers Market takes place on Sunday mornings. Both of these markets span blocks of city space and offer everything from creamy cherimoyas and squash blossoms to raw milk and oysters on the half shell. And there are plenty of coffee, pastry and juice vendors to keep you fuelled up as you shop.
As well, while you’re in Santa Monica, don’t miss Santa Monica Seafood for an unbeatable selection of fresh fish and seafood treats. This family-owned business is committed to seafood sustainability, so shopping there isn’t only tasty, it’s ethical. As well, the shop’s café atmosphere makes it the perfect place to grab a snack and relax after all that browsing.
Lastly, of course, many LA locals stay true to their ethnic heritages by shopping at neighbourhood markets loaded up with products imported from other lands. Treats and ingredients from Russia, Persia, Thailand, Mexico, Greece, Korea and more can be found within the city of Los Angeles — basically, whatever your ethnicity, you can probably find an LA shop dedicated to importing flavours from your home!
You could say Los Angeles is a mecca for those who like to shop locally, healthfully and sustainably. With so many goodies out there to choose from, the only problem will be finding the time to cook up all those delicious ingredients!