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 (re)visited Market Chicken Rotisserie.
The nights have finally gotten chilly and the Christmas decorations are up at the Original Farmers Market, where I visited this past Tuesday around 8pm for a quick snack before a nearby sushi dinner on West 3rd. On my return to Nonna’s Empanadas (est. 2017), I find most of the pastry case empty, presenting me with a common conundrum for those who arrive at restaurants on the later side of things: What’s left to order that’s still good? On my visit, the stall is out of all Argentine-style beef pastries, nearly all chicken varieties (except with jalapeño) and most sweet empanadas. Some of the ones that remain look misshapen and unappetizing, and I start to wonder if I should just try to come back the next morning for the best pick of the bunch.
After a few minutes (and revisiting my jam-packed eating schedule for the next few days), I decide to try picking through the stragglers for the most appetizing ones. Priced at $5.25 apiece, I order the chicken and jalapeño as well as the carnitas. Within seconds, they’re in my hands in a cardboard box. Taking a seat at the counter, I alternate bites of each still-warm empanada, finding that even the less desirable empanadas at Nonna’s are excellent. Dipped into the spicy, oil-heavy chimichurri, they’re the perfect way to pregame my dinner.
Here’s a little peek behind the editorial curtain behind these columns: As I will be taking off the last two weeks of the year, I’ll be doubling up on my market visits in the next month to make up for it. In fact, I’ve already decided at this point where my favorite places to eat in the market are—look out for an upcoming Table at Third & Fairfax post in December recapping my top picks. Surprisingly, Nonna’s Empanadas did not rank among the best all-around restaurants or dishes. While the empanadas are delicious, they’re not as memorable to me as a couple of other places—but that doesn’t mean you should bypass them the next time you’re in the market. The ultra-specialized stall might lack the variety of other vendors, but the empanadas here sure are delicious.
Meals from Table at Third & Fairfax fall into three categories: Skip It, Worth Trying and Must Have.
Vendor: Nonna’s Empanadas
Order: Chicken and jalapeño empanada, carnitas and black bean empanada
Verdict: Must Have. Even the stragglers in the case at Nonna’s are worth grabbing right before closing time.