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Fritzi Coop
Photograph: Patricia Kelly Yeo for Time Out

Table at Third & Fairfax: A year at the Original Farmers Market

Kelly brings everything full circle with a visit to Fritzi Coop—the vendor that started it all.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Written by
Patricia Kelly Yeo

Table at Third & Fairfax is a weekly dining column in 2023 where Food and Drink editor Patricia Kelly Yeo will eat her way through the Original Farmers Market. Each column will drop on Thursday for a week-by-week recap of her journey through the classic L.A. tourist attraction. Last week, Kelly revisited Trejo's Tacos and recapped the market's best dishes and restaurants.

On my very last visit for this column, holiday season is in full swing at the Original Farmers Market. The garland-covered clock tower is fully lit up, there's an enormous tree covered in red and green baubles and the market is actually busy on a Tuesday night thirty minutes before closing. When I walk past Pampas Grill, I'm amazed to see the place all but filled with people: Families with children, people of all ages, a pair of sisters in red-and-white Christmas sweaters. Most people carry shopping bags from the Grove. I've been told by market staff that summer is the busiest time of the year, but the holidays seem to be in second place. 

It feels only fitting to finish Table at Third & Fairfax with the same order that inspired this column: The gluey, tasteless chicken tenders at Fritzi Coop, which I first tried a little over a year ago. Walking up to the stand, I'm disappointed (but not surprised) to find the stall completely out of sandwiches and Stinger (buffalo) sauce—meaning my order will be confined to the Nashville-inspired Fritzi Hot and classic tenders. I ask for four pieces ($10.95 without the combo) of each style, and ask for my order to be packed up to go. Within minutes, my buzzer goes off. 

Fritzi Coop chicken tenders
Photograph: Patricia Kelly Yeo for Time Out

Waiting in line to leave the parking lot, I can't resist sampling two tenders. Even warm, I can tell they're mediocre. The meat is basically tasteless, and the Nashville hot variety offers a subtle smokiness with absolutely zero flavor whatsoever. It's not until I get back to my apartment that I'm able to dunk tenders into the watery sauce, which helps improve the meal. Surprisingly, when I visited Fritzi Coop earlier this year, I enjoyed the buffalo sandwich to some degree, though not enough to keep it on our guide to L.A.'s best fried chicken sandwiches. Of the 36-plus different iterations of fried chicken I ate this year for our brand-new fried chicken guide, the tenders from Fritzi Coop are the downright worst ones I've had.

Full disclosure: I'm extremely glad to wrap this column. This year, I've realized just how much time it takes to thoroughly research new food and drink guides, capture video footage (yes, I do that too) and visit the same place multiple times to write starred reviews. Visiting the Farmers Market weekly, mostly for lunch, has made it particularly difficult to check out new cafés, coffee shops, bakeries and all other spots that only open during the day. By and large, my experience of eating through it has largely been unsurprising: Aside from the places recapped last week, I wouldn't recommend coming here for amazing food. The reason the Original Farmers Market still ranks number two on our guide to L.A. area food halls has more to do with history, convenience and the handful of strong vendors like Pampas Grill and Monsieur Marcel. 

Porn Star Martini stock photo
Photograph: Shutterstock

What I am excited for is my new, semi-regular column: Very Niche, But Where Can I Find [X]. The concept is fairly self-explanatory—so if you're trying to track down an esoteric food or drink item, please email me with your suggestions. I've already published the inaugural column covering where to find the elusive porn star martini, with a few more column ideas in the works. Thankfully, I won't be filing them on a weekly basis, freeing up significant time to bring you more of the very best of daytime-only eateries and other food and drink businesses, of which there seem to be more everyday. In the last month, I've already tracked the opening of bakery-café Fat + Flour in Culver City, which I visited two weeks ago. There's also East Hollywood's Cafe Telegramma, Chinatown's Flouring LA and Echo Park's Little Fish to check out—all of which don't stay open past mid-afternoon.

To the few hundred people who've tuned into my column every week, thank you for your loyal readership. May you find yourself a decent meal the next time you find yourself near the Original Farmers Market, even if you decide you'd rather just walk over to Sidecar Doughnuts, Wanderlust Creamery or Bacari down the street, or skirt around the Grove for a quick trip to Erewhon.

Meals from Table at Third & Fairfax fall into three categories: Skip It, Worth Trying and Must Have.

Vendor: Fritzi Coop
Order: Classic tenders, Fritzi Hot tenders
Verdict: Skip It. These are as terrible as the first time I had them.

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