This is not your school bake sale — you can eat like a king or queen at your local farmers market. Nestled between the organic produce and locally-made jewelry stands are some serious food stalls that serve up everything from sublime macrobiotic meals to authentic French cuisine.
So pack your tote full of fresh flowers and produce while you pack your stomach with thoughtful food made with fresh, local ingredients at farmers markets across metro Phoenix.
Heaven & Earth House of Macrobiotics
We dare you to try anything from Heaven & Earth and not sigh in delight. There’s the "Almost Famous" Seaweed Salad, a pickled ginger-topped bed of arugula and seaweed that’s in the running for the perfect salad, and the Kabocha Cashew Miso, a dense and delightful squash blend that melds flavors and textures so perfectly your taste buds will dance. The vendor also offers maki rolls, energy bars, and PB&J cookies that’ll have you swooning. The heavenly bites come courtesy of chef Seiko Yamanobe, a Cordon Blue-trained chef who fine-tuned her macrobiotic skills in Japan and at the Kushi Institute in Massachusetts. Everything is made according to the season, and, in keeping with the macrobiotic mindset, aims to balance the yin and yang.
Where to find it: Saturday Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market, Sunday Ahwatukee Farmers Market, alternate Tuesdays The Farmers Market @ ASU Tempe.
Arrive at 5 p.m. for Phoenix Public Market’s Thursday night Downtown Sundown market and you’ll see the Phoenix Public Market Café’s impressive 4-foot wide, gas-powered Paella pan simmering in action. First goes the chicken and chorizo, later the farm-fresh veggies and authentic Bomba Spanish rice. With each pass the flavors meld, the spices sing, the rice readies, and by 6ish you have a near-perfect paella — tender chicken, spicy sausage, perfectly-crisp veggies. Nine bucks buys you a hefty serving of the Spanish staple with a side of fresh greens and aioli. The sun setting over the city skyline and the live jazz band provide the ultimate backdrop.
Where to find it: Thursday Downtown Sundown at Phoenix Public Market.
Salted Serenity Sweets debuted its first decadently chewy handmade caramels at the Scottsdale Farmer’s Market in January — and sold out the first day. One ooey gooey bite and you’ll see why. Owner and caramel maker Elizabeth Picone uses only the best ingredients: organic dairy, real vanilla beans, no artificial flavors. Heck, even the boozy delights — Bourbon Caramel, Bailey’s Irish Cream Caramel, and Ale & Pretzel Caramel — use the top shelf stuff. Start with the Original Salted Caramel, a melt-in-your-mouth, silky smooth sweet with just the right amount of salty, and then try them all.
Where to find it: Saturday Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market and Uptown Farmers Market, Thursday Artisanal Market at Scottsdale Waterfront.
Ah, Paris, the land of ooh-la-la pastries and fancy 5-star dining. Well, it turns out there's no need to fly all the way to the Eiffel Tower to get a taste of French cuisine, not with chef Jean Ekobo serving up traditional crème brûlée, quiche Lorraine, flourless chocolate cake, and his famous cranberry cashew chicken salad at Valley farmers markets. Trained at the famous Lenôtre Culinary School near Paris, Ekobo, who was once personal chef to Mohammed Ali, brings his big personality and big tastes to this culinary endeavor. Bite into his fabulously flakey almond croissants or rich and regal spinach feta pockets and you’ll see what we mean.
Where to find it: Saturday Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market and Gilbert Farmers Market.
Living in the Valley of the Sun means we have a year-round excuse to eat popsicles, and AZ Pops gives us plenty of wildly fun ways to indulge. The umbrella-clad cold cart serves up Strawberry Watermelon, Prickly Pear Lime, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Coconut, Hibiscus Ginger, and Peach Mint Green Tea pops to name a few. In keeping with the farmer’s market vibe, owner Pam Raphael gets most of her ingredients from local farms (that means no artificial flavors). The little ones will lick ’em up with gusto, yet the genius gourmet flavor combos are all adult. And at $3 a pop, these treats are so worth their price tags.
Where to find it: Saturday Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market, RoadRunner Park Farmers’ Market, and Uptown Farmers Market; Sunday Anthem Farmers Market (seasonally).
Owners Kasey and Steven have turned the art of chocolate making into a labor of love. They craft their small-batch chocolate from scratch, carefully sorting, slowly roasting, and then grinding the beans for three days in —- you guessed it — an old school stone grinder so the creamy cocoa butters and bitter solids have a chance to not only meet, but date, get married, and live happily ever after. The result: a decadently dark, dairy-free bar with the nuances of a finely aged wine. Depending on the flavor — Mint and Cashew, Red Raspberry, Cinnamon Cayenne, Midnight Dark — you’ll pick up subtle notes of raspberry, caramel, or brownie.
Where to find it: Saturday Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market, Gilbert Farmers Market, Phoenix Public Market, and Uptown Farmers Market; Sunday Anthem Farmers Market, Ahwatukee Farmers Market, and Queen Creek Farmers Market.
The “Naked Ladies” at the b Naked stall will stop you dead in your tracks. Try the Naked Blonde and you’ll see what we mean, a raw macaroon that turns strands of coconut, maple syrup, and vanilla bean into an orgy (pun intended) of flavors. For a more upscale affair the Chocolate Pecan Tart is a must, a pecan-date shell filled with a sinfully decadent cream made of cashews, maple syrup, and raw cacao. Creator Sue Berliner, who has a knack for creating healthy delights, is always pushing the envelope. Her newest creation: Java Jolt, a raw chocolate ball with coffee three ways — the bean, the brew, and the grounds that’s a jolt of textures and flavor. Oh, and did we mention that everything is gluten-free, vegan, and Paleo with no refined sugar?
Where to find it: Saturday Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market, Sunday Ahwatukee Farmers Market.
There’s nothing like biting into a freshly baked loaf of bread, the chewy crust giving way to the light and airy inside. That’s our foodie Nirvana, and Proof Bread delivers it in many forms, from chewy-on-the-outside Ciabatta to green olive sticks. Cordon Bleu-trained chef Jared Allen develops his dough the old-school way: everything is naturally leavened (as in, made without commercial yeast). No wonder Proof was a finalist for Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards last year. Beyond the bread, the piece de resistance is the pain au chocolate, a perfectly flaky chocolate-filled croissant delicately dusted with powdered sugar that melts in your mouth.
Where to find it: Thursday Downtown Sundown at Phoenix Public Market, Friday Mesa Community Farmers’ Market, Saturday Gilbert Farmers Market.
Biting into a good burrito can be a practically religious experience. Your crack through the tortilla to discover a medley of tastes and textures that play like the ultimate hymn — and Mi Salsa burritos are about as holy as they get. Grilled to perfection, underneath the slightly charred flour tortilla is a piping hot center stuffed with seasoned meats, grilled veggies, beans, and rice. Menu faves include the Breakfast Burrito done with eggs, potato, cheese, and beans and the Pork Burrito, a jam-packed pocket full of pulled pork, rice, and beans. Even the vegan version — think poblano peppers, onions, corn, rice, and beans — is a force to be reckoned with. And each packed pocket comes with the ultimate condiment: Mi Salsa’s very own made-from-scratch salsas.
Where to find it: Thursday Downtown Sundown at Phoenix Public Market, Saturday Phoenix Public Market.
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A local farmers’ market staple, Raimando’s takes traditional Italian fare and turns it gluten-free. Sounds blasphemous, we know, but in the hands of Raimondo, the flour-free feasts will make you wonder why pasta wasn’t purged ages ago. Vegetable lasagna is layered with oodles of zucchini noodles, eggplant rollatini is stuffed with savory ricotta, breadcrumb-free meatballs are slathered in tomato sauce — and all for just $6 a pop. No, they didn’t jump on the gluten-free bandwagon to be cool; these are family recipes that have been unchanged for 38 years. No need to mess with perfection.
Where to find it: Thursday Sun City Farmers Market and Downtown Sundown at Phoenix Public Market; Friday Carefree Farmers Market; Saturday Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market, Phoenix Public Market, and RoadRunner Park Farmers’ Market.