The next time you’re at a restaurant and tempted to ask the waiter where your astoundingly fresh beets came from, don’t. The beets (and, likely, the majority of the dish’s ingredients) probably came from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. While the market occurs on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, the best day to go is on Wednesday morning along Arizona Avenue. This is where chefs go to grocery shop. After parking in one of Santa Monica’s public parking structures (many of which are free for the first 90 minutes), head over to the market, where you’ll likely find kitchen staff picking up basil, 10-pound bags of leeks or jars of local honey.
Even in a city as expansive as Los Angeles, you get a small-town feel when you stroll through the neighborhood farmers’ markets. The freshly baked bread vendor knows your name; the strawberry farmer is giving a youngster a few ripe berries to taste; and the hummus stand is saving you the last bag of handmade pita chips. There's a sense of community that draws locals back every week—so much so, that Angelenos actually make time to hit the ATM beforehand (shocking, I know). Of course, there's also bounds of freshly picked fruits and vegetables, delicious prepared food (tamales, crepes, pupusas) and artisan gourmet goods (olive oils, jams, honey) that keep people coming back for more.
Without a doubt, Los Angeles has eternal bragging rights when it comes to phenomenal farmers’ markets. Oh, you think you’ve tried a good blood orange or heirloom tomato? Come back to us after visiting Santa Monica's on a Wednesday morning, Silver Lake's on a Saturday or Hollywood's on a Sunday. These seasonal markets are where the best restaurants in L.A. buy their produce, where you can indulge in your love for cheap eats, and where cartons of avocados and farm fresh eggs seem to stretch as far as the eye can see. Beyond culinary fare, some of the farmers' markets feature unique goods like vintage clothes and jewelry, used books and vinyl records. Check out our picks for the best farmers’ markets on the Westside, in Central L.A., toward the East and in the Valleys, then grab your reusable bag and start shopping.