In September, Phoenix New Times celebrated the cream of the crop with our 36th annual Best of Phoenix edition. Here are our top picks for markets in metro Phoenix.
Best Market: French Grocery In the morning, French Grocery makes a perfect coffee stop, complete with locally roasted espresso from Tempe's Cortez Coffee. And for more filling fare, there's the weekly menu of cuisine from chef and owner Kevin Lentz. He's spent most of his adult life living and eating in the Big Easy and wanted to bring some of that city's flavor to Phoenix. No matter the time of day, we can swing by for one of the restaurant's macarons, which come in an array of colors and flavors that change each week. And as if that's not enough, French Grocery provides a well-curated selection of wines, cheese, and other artisan products, including European-style butter, goat milk, and chocolates. We only wished we lived closer to French Grocery -- or that this type of neighborhood market and restaurant will start taking off all over town.
Best Farmers Market: Old Town Farmers Market Though we're happy to see farmers markets popping up in just about every Valley neighborhood, we have to admit our favorite Saturday morning stop is still the Old Town Farmers Market. Because as much as we want to eat local and healthy, we don't have the time -- or energy -- to make a dozen stops to get the shopping done. The variety of vendors at the Old Town Farmers Market makes this a one-stop shop for market-goers with everything from organic produce to grass-fed beef and local honey. And in most cases, you'll have your choice between several vendors in each category. It's true that things slow down during summer, but at least we can still get in and get the basics before the heat really hits. The fact that the market is dog-friendly is a big plus, because we feel guilty about taking our time when we leave our four-legged baby home alone.
Best Place to Buy Wine: Wedge and Bottle So Wedge and Bottle might not have the largest wine selection in the Valley. It also might lack the insanely low Trader Joe's prices you're used to from your wine-buying experience. However, what this Ahwatukee wine, cheese, beer, and more store does have is a knowledgeable, friendly staff who knows a thing or two about pairing wine and cheese and isn't afraid to sell you on it. Wedge and Bottle also sells gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, which go shockingly well with a glass of wine. If you're ready to make a commitment to wine and cheese but not ready to make a decision, you also can opt to join Wedge and Bottle's wine and cheese pairing of the month club. A three-month subscription can be bought in the store or online for $165.
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Best Carniceria: El Rancho Market Walk past the display of balloons, down the aisles of hot sauce, chips, and beans. It's then you'll know you've made it to the meat section of El Rancho Market. Every part of the chicken is available -- all you have to decide is whether or not you want it marinated. It's beef you want? Take your pick among center shank, short ribs, and liver, and if you're really feeling it, grab some tongue. If making pozole has been on your list of things to do, El Rancho sells the right pork meat for your endeavor. And don't worry, El Rancho's seafood section goes well beyond shrimp and stuffed salmon. Whole octopus, blue crab, and catfish nuggets are a few of the more exciting choices.
Best Mexican Grocery Store: Ranch Market From the giant pots to the corn husks and masa you'll need to make tamales, Ranch Market has you covered. The produce aisle offers a bounty of produce both familiar and exotic. And you can get fresh juices, baked goods, rotisserie chicken, and just about anything you can think of, including hard-to-find Mexican spices and cerveza to wash them down with.