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Why: The Original Farmers Market, has the murmur of a ballpark, the aura of an old family grocery and a faint underlying note of noir to keep you on your toes. In a city prone to scorn anything a little worn and charming, it's irresistibly both.
What: The Farmers Market is a collection of 100 restaurants, shops and food stores that dates to the Great Depression. Since 1934, it has drawn locals, TV stars, moms with strollers and visitors from around the world. (We've lost Carrie Fisher since the striking portrait above was shot there in the late 1980s, but the market looks just the same.)
Part of the magic is the confluence of so many cuisines – Cajun, barbecue, Brazilian, French, Japanese – in one location. My two favorites: Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts, on the east patio, where cranks, know-it-alls, philosophers and other folks with too much time on their hands gather to gab and grab coffee. At the other end of the market is Charlie’s Coffee Shop, noted for old-school French toast ($6.25) and amazing cheeseburgers ($6.95). Ask for Charlie Sue herself, who has run the place since 1976.
Part of the appeal is that the market isn’t just for visitors. It’s a practical pit stop for locals looking for a slab of sirloin at one of the impressive butcher counters, or a place to get a house key cut. This functionality, plus the sense of fun, make the old place one of the most authentic and enjoyable retreats in the city.
Where: 6333 W. Third St., Los Angeles, 8 miles west of downtown L.A.
How much: Free
Info: Farmers Market L.A.