The Location: 4700 E. Warner Road, Phoenix
The Days/Hours: Every Sunday from 9 a.m. til 1 p.m.
Parking: It's located next to a shopping complex and in the parking lot of the Ahwatukee Community Swim and Tennis Center. The parking is a non-issue, as there is plenty close by.
The Vendors: You'll find all the staples of the Valley's larger markets - veggies, fruit, beef, fish, cheese - only less of it (breathing room is nice, and makes for easier decisions) and without some of the fluffier vendors that appeal only to the our Valley's pickiest eaters.
Among the vendors, there are some apparent superstar sellers. We were particularly impressed with Taste of Paradise farms, with monstrously large carrots and bell peppers in many colors, as well as dozens of other items.
In contrast, many of the produce vendors operated on a smaller scale, but with wimpier veggies that lacked some of the same radiance of color. Some great vendors had samples, with flavors that led to even more options, like Cahill, a company that forages their own wild prickly pears and turns them into preserves, syrups, jelly hybrids (with strawberry, blueberry, etc.), and even salsas. They do sun-cured olives, too, working with a farm near Tucson that soaks them in salty brine for months - sounds rough, tastes smoother than you'd think an olive could.
The Crowd: L
ess is more for the full, multi-generational families and their dogs, or girls soccer teams that stroll the aisles. Some attendees rushed there after church service to stuff their pantries and turn on the oven with the ingredients for comfort foods that become synonymous with Sunday afternoon supper: sausages and pork from Hopkins Hog Farm
, Salmon from Fish Hugger
, a full spread of pita chips and hummus from Valley favorite Doctor Hummus
Best Taste: One vendor, Arizona Cheese Company, had our favorite offering of the morning - cheese curds that literally squeak in your mouth when you chew.
What's Missing: All together, the Ahwatukee market brings essentials, but the market doesn't quite shine like it could. There are vendors who just don't quite belong - tie-dye clothiers, silver jewelry makers, and a few vendors who couldn't tell you more about the product then what their sign says, most likely hired by their company just to set up a tent. And $20 for a skinny bottle of avocado oil from Australia, which tastes pretty much like olive oil? We'll pass
The biggest surprise of all was the near non-existence of Ahwatukee small businesses; most vendors came from somewhere else in the Valley. In order to flourish as a market, they might need to recruit and show what sets Ahwatukee apart from other farmers markets, or better yet, other parts of town.
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