The Market: Between vendors and visitors, every market has its cheerleaders. But few come as loyal as those who frequent the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market every Saturday morning. It's easy to find, located in the parking lot attached to the south side of the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, the permanent venue that stocks local produce and much of what vendors in the Valley offer all week long, not to mention a breakfast through dinner menu and wine bar. The Parking: The lot just south of the Public Market, across Pierce St., is yours for the parking (and remember, metered parking is still in effect on Saturdays). The market is light-rail friendly, narrowly favoring the Van Buren stop to the Roosevelt stop in walking distance. The Vendors: If you're hunting down what's growing this season, chances are likely that you'll find it at the produce-heavy Downtown Market.
There are big farms like Crooked Sky that bring bundles of carrots and bags of assorted beans, or Maya Farms (that seem to bring most of their produce to this market) that carried three varieties of beets alongside a slew of seasonal vegetables and one of the largest flower displays we've seen at a market yet. Then there are some smaller operations, like family-operated Golo Organic Farms, which brought vibrant and plump radishes (among other times) to the market on Saturday, or Horny Toad Farm with a bountiful display of green tomatoes. For every farm stand there's fresh bread or a fresh meal. Newcomers to the bread category hang out next door to each other; Mediterra Bakehouse who travel from Coolidge and bring plenty of loaves and orange marmalades made by Demitrios Fine Pastries, and Hayden Flour Mills with bags of flour and polenta, as well as loaves of bread baked at Pane Bianco using the wheat flour they milled themselves.
Fresh meals can be found in the form of vendors, like the hot-off-the-grill, five dollar vegan or meat burritos from Mi Catering (we like the "chicken" with green tomatillo, beans and rice), who also carry bottles of their salsas, and quality, refreshingly sweet jamaica fruit drink for only two dollars. If it's not Mi, it's several of the food trucks like Short Leash Hot Dogs, Jamburritos, and Mojo Bowl - or, of course, there's the menu inside the Public Market.
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The People: No one is in a hurry, and the only people waiting in lines are a block over at Matt's Big Breakfast. If you thought farmers markets were for hipsters, you'll be surprised to find that this market is one of the most family-friendly in town -- babies and tots significantly outnumber dogs.
Best Taste: We liked the pickled mushrooms and asparagus from Pickled Perfection, but our favorites were Grady with his selection of tangy Grady's BBQ sauces, or Raimondo's killer zucchini lasagna which, once you decide you like it, is another great idea for a full, hot meal at the market.
What We'd Like To See: Fresh meals are so easy to come by, we'll say things are at a saturation point. After all you can only lunch once on a Saturday, right? We'd like to see some more fresh pastries (there are only a couple - Two Frogs Bakery, Chocolate Spaniel), or more products you can fill your fridge and pantry with - like jams, mustards, oils, or a wider selection of pickled produce. Though, on the whole, between the farmers market and the Public Market, this weekly event meets all of our needs and more.